Some 150 members of Congress today voted in favor of allowing nonreligious military chaplains to serve atheists and agnostics in the armed forces.
Although that wasn’t enough for an amendment to succeed, it means a lot to American freethinkers.
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) offered the amendment on the House floor.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ) tried to add a similar amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act in committee.
You may recall the breathtakingly bigoted remarks Andrews’ amendment inspired by some members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.
Kudos also to Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who defended atheists and humanists at that committee meeting: "To say that an atheist or a humanist doesn't believe anything is just ignorant. They have very, very developed beliefs and value systems, and there are many, many of them serving in the military, including Pat Tillman. The response to the gentleman's amendment makes me feel all the more the necessity of it. Basically, if you are an atheist or agnostic in the military, the military's response is, 'We've got nothing for you.. There's no hope for you.' They believe in a system of values, and that system of values is worth as much to them as Christianity is to us."
(Note: there were 150 Democrats who voted yes, 44 Democrats who voted no and 230 Republicans who voted no.)