- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The American military might reflect the diversity of society, but its chaplains are falling short when it comes to representing nontheistic beliefs, said the American Humanist Association at its first congressional hearing on Tuesday.

The advocates called for acceptance and resources for humanist service members with nowhere to turn.

“The lack of belief in a god should not be a disqualifier to access to chaplaincy and support,” said Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. Until the Armed Forces Chaplains Board sees otherwise, he continued, “they’re saying as loudly as they can that they are absolutely opposed to anyone who does not believe in a god.”

Humanism stresses the value of human beings rather than a divine being and bases its beliefs on critical thinking rather than faith.

A 2009 survey from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute found that about 3 percent of military members identify as humanist, while 25 percent of service members have no religious preference.

Currently there are no military chaplains or lay leaders in the military that are humanist, although there have been candidates for both.

In April, the Army announced that “humanist” is now officially recognized as a “faith code” within its ranks.

In May, the Navy rejected an application for the first humanist chaplain in its ranks.

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