Military atheists expanding to Special Ops at Ft Bragg
Seeking recognition for their beliefs even though they must be anonymous in their duties.
Ft Bragg is the home of primary deployment center for the Army’s combat power. Home to Forces Command (the Army’s deployable forces), including the famous 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Command, Ft Bragg is one of the most important military installations. It’s not surprising that it would be a focus for atheists and humanists as well. And for the first time, MAAF is expanding into the special operations area.
Sergeant First Class Chad Brack is an instructor at the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. SFC Brack trains future Special Operations Non-Commissioned Officers and students attending the Special Forces Qualification Course at Camp Mackall. He will now be setting up alternatives to church for nontheists at Camp Mackall (and on Facebook).
My initial reason for doing this was to provide an alternative to religious services at Camp Mackall for students. Nearly all phases of the Q-Course are run there and I know that students will be interested. The point would be to ensure equal opportunities for nontheists as well as to affirm the nontheistic identity and values of interested students. This will provide another facet of private support already provided for atheists and humanists at Ft Bragg.
David Niose speaking at Ft Bragg
A local spouse is organizer for the Military Atheists & Secular Humanists at Ft Bragg. The group meets regularly and has recently hosted authors Dr Andy Thomson of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, lawyer David Niose, past President of the American Humanist Association and author of Nonbeliever Nation, and Todd Stiefel of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. This group grew out of the Rock Beyond Belief event organized by American Atheists military director Justin Griffith. Events are social, service, and fellowship events are scheduled at meetup.com.
Unfortunately organizers like Chad, Justin, and Major Ray Bradley are all nontheists at Ft Bragg who have had to work entirely without the support of the chaplains. Ray Bradley in particular has submitted valid paperwork to be recognized as a humanist lay leader and has sought recognition as a humanist on his official records. All of this outreach has gone without resolution. So we have no choice but to press on and support ourselves. We will not change our beliefs as a prerequisite for equal opportunity in the military.
MAAF Special Ops member on patrol in Afghanistan
Despite setbacks with the military establishment, MAAF supports its own. As a membership organization of current and prior military, we understand our needs and will reach out to help our own. Hopefully soon, the chaplains and leaders in the military will recognize that we serve alongside them and deserve equal respect and support.