The following letter was written by a MRFF supporter of several years who has served as a U.S. Air Force officer and is currently a civilian stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base
Lt Col Reyes,
Recently you wrote a commentary called “No athieists in foxholes” which was removed from the JBER website. After reading the article I must say I was a little perturbed. As an Air Force veteran and an atheist I found it condescending (as is the phrase “no atheists in foxholes”).Now please don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the historical information regarding Father Cummings and the Hell Ships, though I admit I have not had time to read up on the veracity of the tale. My undergraduate degree is in history–with a minor in religion, no less. However, the article insinuates that when crises looms, humans automatically revert to something you call “faith”. Although I have not faced a wartime situation such as you describe in your article, I have had my share of bad times, near death experiences, and crushing defeats. Yet at no point in my life has any of that prompted me to have “faith” in anything; I did not suddenly “believe” in a supernatural being or anything else because of the gravity of my situation. And I do know plenty of other non-theists, agnostics, atheists, etc who have gone through worse than me and have not found God or any other thing because of it.Although in the military we are allowed to believe as we will, and we are permitted to openly acknowledge and even discuss our belief set, we must be careful in what manner this information is presented and to whom. Can you imagine if an atheist O5 wrote an article on an official Air Force site entitled something such as “We stopped believing in mermaids, unicorns and fairies two centuries ago, isn’t time we stop believing in other imaginary creatures such as God, Buddah and Zoroaster”? This would be immensely offensive to those who do believe in those particular faiths or beings. The outcry would be enormous, no one’s beliefs should be officially and publically denounced on a government-sanctioned website.I fully respect your faith and your right to worship and believe as you do, I also support your right to your own opinions on religion and morality, and I definitely understand your role as a chaplain. However, I do ask that you be more careful in the future not to denigrate those with different opinions and beliefs through official Air Force channels; instead, use a non-military, non-government website where you make it abundantly clear that you are not expressing the opinions of the Air Force and are not speaking in an official capacity as an Air Force officer.
(name and job title withheld)