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.
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.