Many Christian leaders and conservative politicians have scoffed at the notion of allowing atheist chaplains into the military, arguing that the idea, in itself, is an oxymoron. But one faith leader is speaking out and claiming that permitting non-theist chaplains in the ranks would actually be a good thing.
Wallace Henley, senior associate pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, recently wrote an op-ed for The Christian Post saying that, by allowing non-believing chaplains, atheists open themselves up to a scenario and label they may end up regretting.
"Allowing atheist chaplains recognizes atheism as a religion and would make atheists subject to the same legal restrictions they have gleefully placed on every other religion," the Baptist pastor wrote.
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If this happens, the tables, at least in Henley's view, would essentially turn. If secularism is a recognized religion, he argues that it would then be theoretically possible for Christians to pursue lawsuits against atheists, humanists and other non-believers for their refusal to allow invocations at government meetings.
See, in this case, Christians, among others, could argue that atheists are using their faith-based beliefs (or lack thereof) to try and hamper others' free-exercise. Henley continues, noting that it seems as though some activists want to codify their non-belief into a religious structure:
In the contemporary environment it is easier to speak against God than for God in the public square. An officially sanctioned military chaplaincy for atheists could actually weaken the atheists' grip on public religious expression.
After all, it was a Supreme Court justice who, in 1961, recognized non-belief in a deity as religion. "Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others," opined Justice Hugo Black, in a footnote in the Torcaso v Watkins case.
Atheists seem to want atheism to be a religion.
The preacher believes that atheism has its own "creeds, high priests, and scriptures" and that it even has its own saints. As TheBlaze has noted, atheist churches are, indeed, popping up (although many non-believers would scoff at the ideals that Henley advances).
"So if atheism is recognized as a religion, might it be possible that theists could have new standing?," the pastor asked. "They might even be able to argue that authorities are unconstitutionally favoring the religion of atheism by restricting prayer to a deity?"
Read his entire argument. TheBlaze has been covering the ongoing debate over atheist military chaplains. The back-and-forth continues but, for now, it seems the admission of non-believing chaplains won't be allowed, as the House recently voted to prevent the Department of Defense from appointing atheist faith leaders.
What do you think about this debate? Should the military allow non-believing chaplains (supporters argue that their placement in the military would allow atheist soldiers to obtain guidance without needing to seek medical professionals' assistance).
Take the poll, below:
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(H/T: Deseret News)
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