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The God Squad Eats Its Own 
26th-Apr-2008 09:35 am
Liberal 1 (This Is what...)
Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats
Specialist Jeremy Hall, 23, outside Fort Riley, Kan., where he has been stationed since being sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers.
FORT RILEY, Kan. — When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers.

Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, declined to comment on the case, saying, “The department does not discuss pending litigation.”

Specialist Hall’s lawsuit is the latest incident to raise questions about the military’s religion guidelines. In 2005, the Air Force issued new regulations in response to complaints from cadets at the Air Force Academy that evangelical Christian officers used their positions to proselytize. In general, the armed forces have regulations, Ms. Lainez said, that respect “the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs.”

To Specialist Hall and other critics of the military, the guidelines have done little to change a culture they say tilts heavily toward evangelical Christianity. Controversies have continued to flare, largely over tactics used by evangelicals to promote their faith. Perhaps the most high-profile incident involved seven officers, including four generals, who appeared, in uniform and in violation of military regulations, in a 2006 fund-raising video for the Christian Embassy, an evangelical Bible study group.

“They don’t trust you because they think you are unreliable and might break, since you don’t have God to rely on,” Specialist Hall said of those who proselytize in the military. “The message is, ‘It’s a Christian nation, and you need to recognize that.’ ”

Soft-spoken and younger looking than his 23 years, Specialist Hall began a chapter of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers at Camp Speicher, near Tikrit, to support others like him.

At the July meeting, Major Welborn told the soldiers they had disgraced those who had died for the Constitution, Specialist Hall said. When he finished, Major Welborn said, according to the statement: “I love you guys; I just want the best for you. One day you will see the truth and know what I mean.”

26th-Apr-2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
wow...how interesting.
26th-Apr-2008 02:19 pm (UTC)
ignorance on this scale is always disturbing to me. Good for him for standing up and refusing to be demonized!
26th-Apr-2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
I think the most telling detail is the superior saying that they were not holding up the constitution.

26th-Apr-2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
Exactly, as though it were a religious document rather than a governmental directive. This is the kind of shit I'm talking about that I have to deal with all of the time - any wonder that I'm so pissed off?

*pantses you, runs*
26th-Apr-2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
ain't my thong keeeeYOOT!?!
26th-Apr-2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
Indeed, and the butt floss has substantially lowered your levels of heinie tartar and ass plaque!
26th-Apr-2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
but it's still sparkly white.
26th-Apr-2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
Honey, your butt is so white it's fucking pale blue.
26th-Apr-2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
it's the flouride rinse...it wasn't supposed to stain.
26th-Apr-2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
26th-Apr-2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
see..the floss...the flouride...I'm only thinking of you.
26th-Apr-2008 01:52 pm (UTC)
Cawfee Tawk moment: Is atheism having no beliefs, or is atheism a belief in no theology?
26th-Apr-2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
From infidels.org:
Atheism is characterized by an absence of belief in the existence of gods. This absence of belief generally comes about either through deliberate choice, or from an inherent inability to believe religious teachings which seem literally incredible. It is not a lack of belief born out of simple ignorance of religious teachings.

Some atheists go beyond a mere absence of belief in gods: they actively believe that particular gods, or all gods, do not exist. Just lacking belief in Gods is often referred to as the "weak atheist" position; whereas believing that gods do not (or cannot) exist is known as "strong atheism."

Regarding people who have never been exposed to the concept of 'god': Whether they are 'atheists' or not is a matter of debate. Since you're unlikely to meet anyone who has never encountered religion, it's not a very important debate...

It is important, however, to note the difference between the strong and weak atheist positions. "Weak atheism" is simple skepticism; disbelief in the existence of God. "Strong atheism" is an explicitly held belief that God does not exist. Please do not fall into the trap of assuming that all atheists are "strong atheists." There is a qualitative difference in the "strong" and "weak" positions; it's not just a matter of degree.

Some atheists believe in the nonexistence of all Gods; others limit their atheism to specific Gods, such as the Christian God, rather than making flat-out denials.
Antitheism is the position against all organized religion. I am both.
26th-Apr-2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
Very interesting! Thanks!

And here I thought I was being silly!
26th-Apr-2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
Welcome, I aims to please.

I'm sure you are quite silly from time to time, I'll bet D could tell me stories all day long! Hell, the icon alone says as much!

Edited at 2008-04-26 03:34 pm (UTC)
26th-Apr-2008 02:12 pm (UTC)
26th-Apr-2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
26th-Apr-2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
Have these people never taken any logic? If you base your entire argument on a false premise, your argument falls like the walls of Jericho. Also, I know far more atheist, or merely nominally religious, officers than people like that. Ugh.

As a side note, I know my husband would much prefer to fight with someone who was fighting to protect his life than someone who might fight less because he had virgins/golden apples/etc. waiting.
27th-Apr-2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
i'm glad someone brought that up

they were deists, if i remember correctly, which is much different than a christian
27th-Apr-2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
Some of them were, but there is apparently some evidence that at least some (Jefferson is one, I believe) were atheists, but that, like today often, was A Bad Idea(TM), so deism was a public compromise.
26th-Apr-2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
I've seen other reports about this situation, and it really honks me off. Other reports detail some of the harrassment he's gotten, including the threats of outing him, because if he's an aheist he must also be gay. Sheesh! Oh, yeah, he's also been accused of satanism. How stupid are these people?

...No, don't answer that. I don't really want to know.

26th-Apr-2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
princessenoire got there before I could... I HATE when people say the "Founding Fathers" were Christians. If only people would listen during American History.

"They don’t trust you because they think you are unreliable and might break, since you don’t have God to rely on.."
Wow. So, relying on God keeps one from breaking? This whole thing is such bullshit. I'm guessing that Welborn is the C.O., he should be discharged.
27th-Apr-2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
It depends on where they got their American history, actually. In all of my regular American history classes (including college) we were told they were all Christian. This was in Alabama, btw.
26th-Apr-2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
well... as a definate non christian, and a brit, im absolutely dumbstruck... such utter blinkered ignorance...eugh...

please gods...save us from the christians
28th-Apr-2008 06:19 pm (UTC) - Major Welborn's myspace acct
To get an idea about the kind of person Freddy Welborn is:

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