Rock Beyond Belief Featured on PBS’ Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly April 20, 2012

Rock Beyond Belief Featured on PBS’ Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

If you’re watching Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly on PBS this weekend, you’ll catch this fantastic piece from correspondent Lucky Severson on Rock Beyond Belief.

The segment covers the need for secular chaplains as well as the problems with the military’s “spiritual fitness” tests:

Justin Griffith: It went on and on telling me that I need to improve my spiritual fitness. But if I need help, I call this 1-800 number. So I called that 1-800 number, and I was basically just going to yell at whoever it was, and to my surprise this was a suicide hotline. I was told that I was suicidal because I was not religious.

No matter who they interviewed to represent the “opposition,” the answers were never very thoughtful:

Colonel Stephen Sicinski: I don’t see there being any inequality today. I’m not tracking as to where you might think that there is inequality of treatment. We don’t treat soldiers that are atheists as atheists. We treat them as soldiers.

[National Association of Evangelicals vice president] Galen Carey: Well, evangelicals very strongly supported the men and women in uniform, and they want to see that their spiritual needs are met. I don’t think you would find many who could understand, frankly, the point of a chaplain for atheists.

Will it produce any change within the military? Not yet. But the more we keep the pressure on, the faster change will happen. The atheists clearly have the facts on their side. Carey and Sicinski have nothing but their own prejudices.

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  • Renshia

    Wow that was great.
    Some of those army guys are a little thick. I sure hope the rest of the army is run by people more competent. HA ha ha…..

  • Kamaka

    Holy Shit!

    The atheists get a fair shake in the media. Yay!

  • Reason_Being

    Very cool.  I am not familiar with that program on PBS do they regularly run segments on atheism?

  • JD

    the answers were never very thoughtful

    On the contrary.  You think the commander who has been dealing with this for 2 years didn’t think about how to answer that question, or even have it vetted ahead of time?

    His point is well taken — The US Army doesn’t treat atheists a particular way because they’re atheists anymore than it treats anyone else a certain way based on their philosophical beliefs.

    It treats soldiers like soldiers. It treats atheist soldiers equally with every other soldier in the Army. 

    The only example of “inequality” the reporter could come up with was that of the atheist chaplain, an irrelevant point (to equality) which has been discussed ad nauseum.

    Since you find it not “very thoughtful,” how do you think the Army treats atheists “unequally?”

  • Keulan

     The thing I love about PBS (and similarly, NPR) is that they actually report things like this fairly. You could never expect such a great report about atheists in the military from Fox News, and even the mainstream media either doesn’t report it at all or barely mentions events like Rock Beyond Belief.

  • Richard Ewald

    Ha!  “The views expressed here are the views only of the authors.They are not necessarily the views of any military, government, religious, or other organization.”

    That’s a pretty big disclaimer, necessitated by some pretty big bigotry.

  • JoeBuddha

    You mean things like the Spiritual Fitness test is NOT treating atheist soldiers differently?

  • Not often, but they do every once in a while. They did an interesting segment on the Sunday School at the Palo Alto Humanist Community a few years ago.

    The thing I like about “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” is that the hosts take great pains to remain neutral. They also focus on all world religions, not just Christianity.

  • Hil

    Great topic.  It’s difficult to describe the discrimination that exists in the military without being called un-patriotic or hurting your military career.  I was told by my boss that she was shocked she hired an atheist (full time National Guard).