The Military Association and Free Thinkers (MAAF) plan to make a request to the military for an atheist chaplain. Around the same time last year, Republicans and Democrats battled over this issue. The president of the MAAF said in a statement "The military includes atheists, humanists and people with nontheistic perspectives and the military currently has no way to service them."
Rep. John Fleming R-La, called the idea an "oxymoron." The Army Chaplain Corps motto is "Pro Deo et Patria" which means "For God and Country." Fleming said "It's self-contradictory — what you're really doing is now saying that we're going to replace true chaplains with non-chaplain chaplains."
The MAAF say that military chaplains do not have enough outreach for nonbelievers. The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute did a study in 2009 of military members. A quarter of the respondents said they had "no religious preference" and just over 1 percent identified themselves as pagan.
The MAAF said in a statement last year that "Such broad-based and growing support of professionals and experts should make it easy for the Department of Defense and the Navy to open their doors to diversity of belief that includes humanists and other nontheists."
The Department of Defense weighed in saying "The department does not endorse religion or any one religion or religious organization, and provides the maximum extent possible for the free exercise of religion by all members of the military services who choose to do so."
The fight for an atheist chaplain has been going on for many years, now it may be finally coming closer to a decision. If lawmakers cannot decide, the Department of Defense may be able to make a decision instead.