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Christians take over interfaith Army chapel in combat zone

Christians take over interfaith Army chapel in combat zone

American Atheists, Inc. Press Release

Atheists Call for Chapel’s Restoration.

American Atheists recently became aware that a chapel on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Orgun-E in Afghanistan has been illegally modified to look like a church with a steeple and crosses etched on the doors.

These modifications directly violate military regulations, including Army Regulation 165-1. According to the regulation, chapels are a shared space and no religion has more right to these buildings than any other.

David Silverman, President of American Atheists said,

“Soldiers with minority religious beliefs and atheists often feel like second-class citizens when Christianity is seemingly officially endorsed by their own base.” Silverman continued, “We’re proud of all of our nation’s troops as they serve and defend the U.S. Constitution, and we insist that they all be treated equally, regardless of their religious affiliation.”

Justin Griffith, Military Director for American Atheists said,

“It's standard for FOBs of a certain size and permanence to set up buildings like gyms, post exchanges, and chapels. These are intended to be shared spaces, designed for service members of all stripes. Even the chapels are for everybody, not just Christians. That's precisely why military regulations prohibit chapels from permanently attaching sectarian religious symbols.”

In 2011, the Pentagon faced a similar situation involving a cross at a chapel on Camp Marmal. They rectified the situation quickly (and commendably) by removing the cross to make the chapel comply with Army regulations. We urge you to take similar measures as soon as possible.

Official Complaint Letter

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

About Al Stefanelli

Al is a retired author, writer and journalist. His books include "Free Thoughts - A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist" and "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth." Al began writing in 1985, starting with the New York Times. In 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print. He also produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast from 1995 to 1998, and his work won a North Carolina Journalism award in 1998. Al is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for "The Clergy Project." He is also a former Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties. Currently, he writes part time for The God Discussion, co-hosts the Internet radio programs, "The God Discussion Show" and "Reap Sow Radio." Al lives in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, GA.
  • You would not want freedom for people to worship as they feel led, after all.

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