11/12/09

Atheists Serving Our Country

The recent Ft. Hood murders committed by Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, arguably motivated by religious and political extremism, has led to some very interesting tangents revealing important information regarding the world views of the men and women in our United States military.

While putting yet another man's failed life and nihilistic ideology under the microscope and reflecting on an assortment of theories regarding past acts, assertions and motivations along with the subsequent analysis of post event comments/behaviors of just about each and every American citizen with a voice to be heard, some reporters have discovered important news.

Of significance is this recent golden nugget:

"Muslims make up less than 0.3 percent of America's active duty military forces. Of the roughly 548,000 soldiers in the U.S. Army, there are 2,500 Muslims, 1,500 of them on active duty. By comparison, 105,000 claim Roman Catholicism as their religion, and 99,000 say they're Baptists. More than 1,800 soldiers say they're Jewish, surpassed by the nearly 2,500 who identified themselves as atheists. More than 101,000 list no religious affiliation."

Now, to me, the actual number of atheists and those with no religious affiliation in the military putting their lives on the line, while very notable, isn't actually the primary newsworthy item.

It is the fact that atheists are now included, they are counted, they are compared and their presence in our military is provided for public consumption in reasoned equanimity with no negative nuance.

I attribute this shift in presentation to the continued civil public outreach and education campaigns by assorted grassroots networking efforts, the resource of the internet and blogs such as msatheists.org, The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, the Freedom From Religion Foundation ad campaigns, the work of the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the American Atheists (among other skeptical, scientific, secular and humanist organizations) in conjunction with all of the other local proactive vocal individuals from all walks of life speaking out (more often than not) to set the record straight.

After many years in the field supporting such positive activism, I have to tell y'all, this is very hopeful news indeed.

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