‘Worm food’ atheists bashed; hopes for humanist chaplains dashed

Bigoted U.S. reps say no to equality in military

There are plenty of foxhole atheists, but religionists on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee made sure this week that none will be allowed to serve as secular representatives in the chaplain corps.

A stream of invective against atheists followed the introduction of an amendment by U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act at the committee meeting June 5. It would have permitted persons certified by nontheist groups to join the chaplain corps to provide guidance to "members of the armed forces who are atheist, agnostic, or belong to no organized faith group."

The amendment, which was killed, brought a flood of abuse of the nonreligious:

  • "They don't believe anything. I can't imagine an atheist accompanying a notification team as they go into some family's home to let them have the worst news of their life and this guy says, 'You know, that's it — your son's just worms, I mean, worm food.'" — Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas

  • "This I think would make a mockery of the chaplaincy. The last thing in the world we would want to see was a young soldier who may be dying and they're at a field hospital and the chaplain is standing over that person saying to them, 'If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future.' " — Rep. John Fleming, R-La.

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