Atheist in Foxhole Told to Say Grace By Higher-Up April 19, 2009

Atheist in Foxhole Told to Say Grace By Higher-Up

I can’t verify this story, but it’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe. Military atheists have had to endure a lot under the direction of Christian superiors. This is one of the smaller battles, but if it happened, it’s disappointing:

My friend is in the military and on deployment. They had a mandatory potluck to attend (this is the Army — you are not volunteered, you are “voluntold” to do things) and after arriving, she started eating because she was hungry. This encouraged the other hungry soldiers to begin. Someone of higher rank then asked her incredulously why she was eating. She said, “I’m hungry.” He then said that they hadn’t said grace and asked HER to lead the prayer. She said, “No”…

You can guess where this is going… the rest of the brief story is here.

Saying grace isn’t a crime and the officer in question could’ve done it himself if he wished. But to assume everyone believes the same thing you do is a mistake and one would hope a commanding officer knows better.

(via Beth01 — Thanks to Sam for the link!)

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  • My brother (also an atheist) was ordered by his sgt to close his eyes along with the rest of his troop during a grace before meal. He is in the Guard. It happens.

  • Is Christianity such a lame religion it must use threats and force to get people to follow it?

    If asked to say grace, simply utter the single word, “grace” then start eating. Or, as in the story above state your position calmly and that’s about all you can do.

    It’s obvious that in this case, like it seems to be so often, that the Christian is wrong.

  • Desert Son

    Is Christianity such a lame religion it must use threats and force to get people to follow it?

    It started out as a distinctly minority cult in danger of persecution. As with many organizations that last, it grew in power, eventually reaching the point where it could effect persecution of others, and has significantly chosen to do so throughout many instances in history.

    That its followers have chosen, often, to persecute others is interesting. Given enough time in power, enough history of persecuting others (whether truly viewed as persecution or merely, “doing some god’s will”), the idea of infliction of discomfort and disenfrachisement of others becomes ingrained in the socio-cultural tradition of the faith.

    Hence, the great fear of loss of Christian power even though, in the west, the followers have a significant population. The implication of loss of that power is connected intimately with the long-standing knowledge of how the tradition has treated those without power: terribly.

    All the more reason to demand belief and conformity by force, rather than through consent of the governed. Once in place, the stranglehold on power must be maintained, for fear of retribution.

    I feel it’s similar to why there is still latent fear among many majority ethnic populations about increasing enfranchisement of minorities (like, oh, say, a minority member becoming President of the United States). The fear is the knowledge of how the minorities have been treated, and the bigoted assumption that equal terms and equal justice will mean retribution against the majority for injustices long perpetrated. It’s terribly discriminatory, especially because it presumes to know what the minority population really wants, and presumes that desire to be revenge, instead of approaching the issue with the more humane attempt to understand what the minority group wants, and being open to the idea that perhaps the minority simply wants what they have observed the majority to appreciate for so long: peace, health for themselves and their children, opportunity in work and education, economic stability, and a chance to celebrate (and be celebrated in) their success.

    The short answer to your question is, “Yes.”

    In the horrifying instances we’ve witnessed in modern media where Islamic terrorists demand conversion of a hostage to Islam, I have found myself wondering if the extremists truly believe what they are witnessing is genuine, honest conversion to the faith, rather than the terrified grasping at hope by an individual desperate to believe that declaring allegiance in a particular way will mean an extension of life at the hands of the captors.

    No kings,


  • Dave Huntsman

    I responded to that posting with my own instance:
    I’ve been in the Federal civil service for 34 years. I don’t want to compare my experience with someone in the military; because the issue of ‘rank’ and ‘orders’ takes on an even more serious set of connotations for those in the military than us civilians.
    But recently we had two official celebrations at the Federal research center I work at, one for Martin Luther King day and one for Black History Month. Both were religion-soaked; one excuse given being that ‘the civil rights movement and MLK were influenced by their faith” etc. (No mention made of the faith-based voting down of Prop 8 in California by blacks and hispanic minorities. The definition of the ‘civil rights movement’ by people seem limited to ‘people of color’, and not ‘those’ people).
    But my point here is that at this year’s Black History Month thing we were ordered to stand for the “Black National Anthem”, an original song that included praise of a deity in it. (We didn’t know what we were being ordered to stand for initially). The note I wrote afterwards to management politely complaining about this still sits on my computer. I have, unfortunately, direct experience in retaliation at my Center for taking issue with such things.
    Again, this does not fall into as serious a category as when it happens in the military; but it does happen in the civilian civil service as well.

  • Thilina

    the worst part about these cases is that the people you’re suppose to complain to are the ones at fault or just dont care.

    personally i always like some of the saying grace quotes from the Simpsons in a similar but less career threatning situation.

    “We paid for this food, so thanks for nothing” — Bart

    “Good rice, good curry, good god lets hurry” — Apu

  • Phillip Drum

    The same thing happened to me a few years ago. I’m in the Army and I’m an enlisted Soldier. The story goes like this:

    I was at a graduation for an Army Leadership school called BNCOC (Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Development Course) and I was told that I must bow my head during prayer for unity purposes. I told them that I didn’t believe in anything and that I wasn’t required to bow my head. They kicked me out of the ceremony and didn’t let me graduate from the school. Later I filed an EO (Equal Opportunity) complain with that people that I work for since this is clearly discrimination and was allowed to get my certificate from the school.

    The thing that made me the angriest about this whole situation was the fact that these people have sacrificed my whole career just because I didn’t believe what they did. Since then, I’ve decided the Army isn’t for me, and I’m getting out to go to college.

  • jedipunk

    She should have started praying to Krishna.

  • Tim

    The latest issue of Harpers magazine has a fascinating article on just this type of thing called “Jesus Killed Mohammed.” Not yet available online, but more info here:

  • Sandra

    In situations like she was in I always like to say a traditional Buddhist “prayer”:
    Let us all take a silent moment to contemplate the origins of our food and how it has come to our table.

    The Christian family and friends are appeased because they can imagine that I am referencing their god, and the ‘cook’; while the people who really know me are aware that I mean the scientific method as well as the people who grow/harvest, transport and prepare the foods.
    The lack of an “A-men” (think atheist men *evil grin*) is my hint to them, but they are too thick headed to perceive this.

  • teammarty

    One more reason why we NEED our own version
    of “Don’t kiss, Don’t tell.”
    That way the old cannard aboutthere being no Atheists in foxholes would be true.

  • Brian Macker

    Yeah, my experience was go to church or clean rifles. I quit.

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