Friday, April 7, 2017

Military Atheists and Secular Humanists (MASH)

When researching material for new posts, I came upon this NBC News article on atheists in the US Army. 
I have often been surprised by the large role of the church in US society (and politics), but to read that only 4% of the US Military is formed by humanists, agnostics and atheists I found truly astonishing, let alone their struggle to be recognized as "none Christians". 
In the Dutch armed forces, Humanist counsellors are appointed as civil servants not commissioned officers. For carrying out their work they are viewed equivalent to the military ranks (captain, major or lieutenant colonel). They are employed in the military, not by the military, and work outside the military hierarchy. Professionally they are not accountable to the Ministry of Defence or the military authority, but to the agency that sends them, in our case the Dutch Humanist Society (Humanistisch Verbond). 
Lt.Col. de Kooter, Humanist Counselor 
Chaplains are not formally subject to the orders of the military commanders. This service exists primarily for the people as individuals, not for the military apparatus. Humanist counselors thus like to call themselves “critically involved” (in a good way).
Beret badge Humanist Councillors 
Being unlucky to be part of the 25% or so that got drafted into the military (in 1982), I became the secretary of one of these counsellors; the best part of 14 months of military service!

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