Navy

Your stand against Bibles in the Navy shows that u have never come close to death & experience GOD. Try a pitching aircraft carrier night landing & you’ll be praying that you’ll get aboard. Or see your best friend killed then you’ll be praying. Never met a dying sailor who wasn’t praying.

(name withheld)
Captain US Navy Retired – Naval Aviator


Hi (name withheld),

First, let me thank you, sir, for your service to America.

My name is Rick Baker. I’m a former Air Force Officer and rescue pilot, having served two combat tours in Vietnam. I am also an MRFF Volunteer.

I saw your note to MRFF and I would like to take a minute and discuss it with you.

I have experienced many incidents in which I and my crew rescued or transported severely wounded personnel to forward Aid Stations, MASH’s or installation hospitals. We did not prohibit prayer or the Bible. Although I must say that most of what I heard from the wounded was an intense desire to get the enemy back for what they did

MRFF is not against the Bible. We are against coercive use of it in the military however. Many a staunch Christian military officer, using their rank and position, has attempted to make the Bible and other religious articles proselytizing devices in the military.

The Bible belongs in the Chapel, the home and personal effects of individuals and not required reading in the armed forces. By placing the Bible in the drawers of dressers at Naval residential areas, the Navy has shown an unconstitutional favoritism to Christianity.

In Lemon Vs. Kurzman, 1971, the US Supreme Court held that members of government, including the armed forces and public education, may not publicly favor one religion over another or religion over non-religion.

The Constitution is specific on this matter.

Rick Baker
Capt. USAF (Ret)
MRFF Volunteer.


Captain (name withheld),
>
> Mikey is extremely busy defending the Constitutional rights of service members so he asked me to respond to you. First, I would like to thank you for your service. I also want to thank you for using your real name. This indicates to me that you are not a troll and do indeed care about the content of your message. You would not believe the number of messages we receive that contain death threats, vitriolic language, and racial/ethnic slurs towards our founder, his family, and other volunteers.
>
> Now, to properly respond to your message. I will state ahead of time that I will most certainly use a level of snark in my response to you because quite frankly what you have written is deserving of such. I am a combat veteran of both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with 4 combat tours. Front lines, ground combat, snacking on MRE’s, foot patrols, mounted patrols, IED’s, mortars, snipers, local militants, and more…
>
> In all my time overseas I never once encountered someone who would stop putting bullets downrange in order to pray to their god. I never once met a Marine who’s last wish was to be prayed over. He was always parting with some message to send to his family back here. And I would think if god were real, at that point, would it even matter?
>
> Maybe sailors are a different breed, then. However, I know when my father was in the navy onboard the Kennedy in ’75 he had a harrowing experience. The Kennedy got rammed by the Belknap and went up in flames. My father spent most of the night without protective gear fighting the fire to ensure the ship didn’t sink. He had friends to his left and right dying and prayer was the last thing on their mind – at least that’s how he tells it. And I tend to believe that, considering my own harrowing experiences nearly ended my life a time or two and it didn’t bring me cowering to some benevolent deity.
>
> I would say I’m quite offended by your ignorance over the statements you’ve made but I’m used to it by the general population of intelligent yet severely uninformed miscreants that pervade our service branches these days.
>
> Another point: you have equated one belief system (Christianity) with a stance on Constitutionality being one and the same. That is a false equivalency and you should be ashamed of having stooped to such a level. I have met many an officer in my time in the military and I know what it takes to attain the rank of Captain in the U.S. Navy. You are certainly no intellectual slouch but you fail to put on the skeptical and inquiring lenses required of a man and commander of your rank and stature. For shame!
>
> The issue with the Bibles boils down to Constitutionality – NOT anti-Christian bigotry! That is all. It is a quite simple concept and one that everyone, when having it broken down “Barney-style” as we say in the Corps, will more than likely agree with. After all that hallowed piece of paper is what we have all sworn an oath to. It supercedes any and all personal beliefs. It guides the government, the military, the agencies therein and is not favorable towards any one religion. If ever an entity within that government does favor one it is our job as citizens to hold the government accountable. That is what we do.
>
> We at MRFF are not in any form sheep merely following the leadership of Mikey Weinstein. We aren’t parrots regurgitating tired old lines keeping with his status quo. We are Constitutionalists who are holding the military and its members accountable to ensure that the line of church and state becomes less blurry. We come in every shape and form – we have Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, Active Duty, Reserve, Veteran, Pastors, Bishops, Actors, Politicians, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Rastafarians, Roman Catholics, Atheists, Agnostics; the list is too numerous to place in a single email. We all have different beliefs, values, and worldviews but we come together in the belief that no one – NO ONE – should be forced to adhere to any specific belief system in the military. That is anathema to the very values we swore to defend.
>
> Making the Navy Lodge get rid of the Gideon Bibles had nothing to do with being anti-Christian and still does not. Unless the Navy is willing and able – key phrase “able” – to supply religious texts from every religion that is currently in service in the military then they are quite literally in violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment. We don’t care about civilian lodges or private businesses putting Gideons in the hotel – but when it comes from our US taxpayer dollars and is placed there by government workers or contractors it is a blatant violation of the US Constitution. I hear the same tired line about “free expression” as a rebuttal so let me cut you off there – the US Government does not have the right to freely exercise religion. The Government isn’t a citizen. And even the citizens who are in service of the government cannot freely express their religion in a manner that is reflective upon the government because that would create a perception about government endorsement of a specific religious preference. And as I’m sure you have given hundreds of liberty briefs over the years – perception is reality. If one of your sailors got a DUI and killed someone on liberty it still reflected on you, the unit, etc.
>
> Imagine that type of perception on a global worldwide scale in a time and age where the main antagonist of the US Military are extremist religious idealogues. Would it be fair to say it is unsafe on any level to create a perception where Christianity is favored and other religions are merely tolerated or worse denigrated?
>
> You may think it’s nuanced. A bible in the Navy Lodge “isn’t hurting anybody” so just let it be. Well, I’m sorry but the world doesn’t work that way. We live in a country based on the rule of law. And that rule of law says that we cannot establish a religion nor even have any entity of government appear to do so. And as defenders of the Constitution we will continue to hold the military and the Department of Defense accountable to that sacred document.
>
> Semper Fidelis
>
> Very Respectfully,
>
> Paul Loebe
> Special Projects Manager
> Military Religious Freedom Foundation
> Chicago, IL
>
> *Disclaimer: Although I am a Marine Staff Sergeant my views do not reflect the Department of Defense, US Marine Corps, or any affiliated branches.*


> Hello Paul and (name withheld),
>
> Paul — just a quick “amen” to your excellent summary of the situation.
>
> I also wanted to say “thanks for your service” to both you and the good CPT, but wanted to tell CPT Bell that as a Marine ground-pounder with close personal ground combat at Khe Sanh and elsewhere in Vietnam in 1967-8, I have come very close to death personally on more than one occasion, and had a number of men die very near me — and yet I was not once impelled to pray to anything. For one thing, like Paul, I was too busy, and for another, as an atheist, I thought (and still think) it is hypocritical to pray in times of need, but not in good times.
>
> However, my lack of belief in an invisible, mysterious, supernatural BFF in some nebulous place of residence never affected my combat readiness or effectiveness one iota (and you can ask any of the men I served with as to the accuracy of that statement).
>
> The men I saw die up-close and personal didn’t pray either, at least not that I heard. Some didn’t have time or opportunity, even if they wanted to. One had his head blown off by friendly rocket fire from a supporting Navy Phantom. For some, the pain was intense — one man’s last words to the skipper were; “It hurts real bad, sir.” Our Corpsman says most died crying or calling for their mom. (That matches up with some studies I have seen on the subject, as well as my own experience.) Our chaplain at Khe Sanh even wrote an article about atheists in combat. (See attached PDF.)
>
> Now I have no doubt some men find solace and hope in religion — at its best, that is what religion is there for. I know some men who have come back believers, even becoming ministers — and others who came back atheists. (I went over as one, so no change.)
>
> But as you say, the issue is now what some people find comforting in battle — or even in Navy Lodges — but what is right under the Constitution which clearly states that there shall be NO establishment of ANY religion — whether Pagan or Christian or Jewish, Muslim or whatever.
>
> If a religious belief of some sort makes CPT Bell or anyone else feel better, and they are not trying to force it on anyone else, fine. But it isn’t the government’s place to provide religious texts, other than in chapels and other appropriate designated areas. If he wants a Bible in his room in a Navy Lodge or anywhere else — fine — either bring his own copy, or get one from the chaplain or base library — and frankly, like Jefferson and Madison, I feel that even paid chaplains, base chapels, and providing religious materials (of any sort) are unconstitutional and a waste of my tax dollar. Let the faithful pay to pray! And while we’re at it, let’s tax religious organizations! What a racket they are!
>
> Semper Fidelis,
>
> F. J. Taylor
> USMC (Ret.)
>
> PS: I also attach for CPT Bell’s interest and information some material I found while researching the “No atheists in foxholes” lie in the cases of Chaplain Reyes and the Marine Corps Museum chaplain’s exhibit at San Diego.
>
> No Atheists in Foxholes? BS!
>
> Any government entity or personage (such as a chaplain) wrongly inferring that there are “no atheists in foxholes” is a clear violation of the First Amendment, in that it implies government or military sponsorship of religion. US law and judicial decisions have expressly forbade any such show of “favoritism, preference, or elevation of any religion.”
>
> This is not something new. Both Thomas Jefferson, patriot, author of the Declaration, statesman, philosopher, scholar, and our 3rd and arguably one of our finest Presidents, and James Madison, our 4th President, principal author, and considered “the Father” of the Constitution. opposed public or state-sponsored prayer, and a state-funded chaplaincy during their Presidencies. Madison said such proclamations were not appropriate because;
>
>> “They seem to imply and certainly nourish the erroneous idea of a national religion.”
>
>
> Speaking for myself, and other free-thinking active, retired and former service personnel, I am sick to death of the egregious canard that there are “no atheists in foxholes.”
>
> While researching this matter, I spoke with a long-time friend who is rather an expert on the issue, LCDR Rev. Ray Stubbe, USN (Ret.), who was chaplain of the 26th Marines at Khe Sanh, and noted co-author of the most authoritative history of the battles for Khe Sanh “Valley of Decision.”
>
> Ray was (and is) the “real deal.” He ministered to those of all religions, not just his own Lutheran faith, or even just to Christians. We did not have a Jewish chaplain, so when a Jewish Marine asked Ray if he could help get him a mezuzah (a small case with a parchment inscribed with a Jewish religious text, attached to the doorpost of observant Jews’ homes) for his bunker, Ray contacted his Jewish counterpart in Da Nang when he was down there and returned with the requested mezuzah.
>
> Ray was also the only chaplain to go to outlying posts, and would even go on patrols with us. Here is a picture of him with one of my comrades, prior to a patrol. Ray is on the right with the big grin and the M-60 bandolier. (He didn’t carry weapons (except a Kabar) as chaplains are forbidden to carry arms, but he did carry ammo, as the CO didn’t want him to stand out from the others. He didn’t want a chaplain killed on his watch!)
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Ray also conducted service during the Siege, as in this famous picture of him at Khe Sanh. They were just concluding when they heard the “pop” of the tubes in Laos. Ray concluded in a hurry, and said “AMEN! HIT THE DECK!!” They all dove into the trech just as the rounds came in.
>
>
>
>
>
> Ray informed me that not only was the statement about atheists untrue in his personal experience, but that he had made a statement to the news to that effect at the time of the Siege. He sent me a copy of the newspaper clippings of the statement. He reiterated that he stands by his statement, based on his extensive personal combat experience with wounded and dying Marines and other service personnel. I quote from the relevant parts of his letter dated 21 Nov. 2010;
>
>> “Your mention of “atheists in foxholes” evoked some memories, as I mentioned to you, and I’m attaching the documentation I mentioned along with a letter received in regard to the news item. I think you’ll find this to be interesting. I’ve always tried to be completely honest about things, as you know. We have to be focused on telling the truth!”
>
> A retired USMC captain I know was and remains a devout Christian evangelical, and a deacon in his church. In 1967 and 1968, he was an enlisted Navy Hospital Corpsman, assigned to our unit at Khe Sanh, where he endured the initial assaults on Khe Sanh ville during the onset of the Tet Offensive of 1968, and later was with us on the lines of FOB 3 outside KSCB when our company was removed there following the assaults. As a combat Corpsman, he was personally exposed on numerous occasions to enemy fire, and cared for casualties. In an E-mail dated Nov. 21 2010, he wrote:
>
>> “The old saying that there are no “atheist in foxholes” is certainly not a true statement. Some of the Marines I could not save from their injuries did not want me to pray with them. Some died quietly and others went out fighting for every breath and cursing. Most resigned themselves to their fate. Most of the time, when I asked if I could pray for them, they said “Please.”
>
> I personally know several other men who were atheists who were awarded high personal combat awards. In fact, some became atheists as a result of their combat experience. My dad was one. Raised a fundamentalist evangelical Protestant, he became a life-long atheist.
>
> One well-known soldier who lived and died an atheist was the late CPL Pat Tillman. Though not a Marine, and not killed by enemy action, I think his actions in leaving a high-paid career in professional football and enlisting to serve his nation in combat were the mark of a highly principled individual (unlike certain draft and combat evading politicians in recent years).
>
> Of course, I am aware that others get religion in combat. One of our men was converted shortly before his death in an ambush on Hill 689 (I hope it gave him some comfort in his last minutes), several other men later became ministers, and of course, there were and are brave chaplains (the Four Chaplains of WWII, and my friend Ray Stubbe, among others), but that is not the point under discussion. It has never been said or implied that there were “no theists in foxholes” or “no Christians in foxholes” – a statement which would be as untrue as the one I am disputing.
>
> Those who are usually credited with the creation of this annoying and egregious phrase did not in fact claim or acknowledge it.
>
> The three candidates from WW II were: Fr. William Cummings, a Catholic priest who served as a Transport chaplain (cited by LCOL Reyes), Lt. Col. Warren Clear, and an unnamed Army sergeant, all of whom were in Bataan in April of 1942. However, Fr. Cummings nor LCOL Clear both denied it. (The sergeant’s claim is as unknown as he is.)
>
> Some newspapers published at the end of WW I stated that an “unnamed clergyman” had (supposedly) remarked that “during the Great War one could find no atheists in the trenches.”
>
> As a young man, I personally knew men who were in the trenches during that particularly ghastly war on both sides (one was a German soldier), and several were atheists. Some had gone into the war as true believers – both in god and the righteousness of the cause. They emerged from the other end of the meat-grinder with quite a different set of beliefs.
>
> Possibly someone at Bataan or elsewhere was influenced by these earlier remarks. If anyone said that, they either weren’t in the trenches (where there most certainly were some atheists, as is plain from their writing both during and after their time in combat) – or they were just lying – a trait not unknown among some people who loudly profess faith, even members of the clergy.
>
> Nobody can identify the speaker or speakers in either WW I or WW II with any degree of certainty or accuracy, or their rank, clerical status, or military affiliation (if any), let alone their combat experience (if any).
>
> The most anybody can say about this remark with any degree of accuracy is that someone, who may or may not have even been in the military, or had combat experience, may have made this or a similar statement in WW I and / or WW II. In any case, whoever said it (if anyone), they were either liars or fools.
>
> In addition to LCDR Stubbe’s and our Corpsman’s remarks, at least one WW II chaplain stated clearly that there WERE atheists in foxholes, and indeed, they were rampant. Here is a reprint from Time Magazine, dated July 18, 1945, available in the Time archives online:
>
>> Religion: Atheists & Foxholes
>> Monday, Jun. 18, 1945
>> http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,775935,00.html
>
>> Despite pious rumor, there are atheists in foxholes. So writes Transport Chaplain Lewis A. Myers in the current Arkansas Baptist: “Foxholes are not valid agents for making Christians, for destroying atheists or for driving men to God. … If you desire a man to come out of a foxhole with something, you had better send him in with something.
>>
>> “In load after load of returning soldiers … we find 80% of them listen to the gospel with more skepticism than . . . ever … stay away from religious services . . . with less scruples . . . curse more and with a finesse unbelievable . . . gamble with more avidity and defend it with more vigor . . and find it difficult to hold an extended conversation without defaming womankind, even though unintentionally.”
>
>> Chaplain Myers believes that his plain speaking should act as a challenge to churchmen: “There is no need for our churches to fear the truth. Frankness in this matter is not against the war effort, and it isn’t expected of churches that they should surrender their idealism. We should understand now, before the great discharge of soldiers begins, that foxholes are not now and never will do the work of our Christian institutions.”
>
> So yes, there are atheists (and agnostics) in foxholes — I was one of them, as was my father before me.
>
> I know that some people feel the need to pray when they are in danger. Perhaps it gives them some relief from the stresses of combat. If so, they are welcome to it. However, there are those of us who do not feel the need for some mysterious, miraculous BFF in the sky, whether it be Christian or other Abrahamic traditions, or Thor, Zeus, the Cosmic Muffin or the Flying Spaghetti Monster of the Pastafarians.
>
> I don’t know how much close personal ground combat (if any) the people who evoked and perpetuated this bone-headed lie have had. I am not bragging or complaining here, but I had some pretty intense episodes. None of them ever made me even the least bit inclined to jump on the religious bandwagon.
>
> If anyone chooses to believe in order to calm their own fears of death or whatever motivates, fair enough. They have that right. But they do NOT have the right to repeat egregious lies about “no atheists in foxholes.” We are there — and if believers end up in one, chances are one of us will be there as well, covering them.
>
> Some people may believe that some “god is your co-pilot” but I have never seen any supposed deity in the trenches or fighting holes of Khe Sanh or any other battlefield I have been on — just dirty, sweating, smelly swearing grunts, mangled, bloody men, and rotting corpses. (You want to know what Hell is really like? Ask me or any other grunt who has crossed the line.)
>
> Whatever the case, the statement about atheists is and always has been a lie, and debases the beliefs and efforts of some very brave men, some of whom were wounded or died, having chosen to face death without the (doubtless useful) crutch provided by religion.
>
> Let’s look at it another way; If someone had said there were “no Muslims (or Jews, or Pagans or African-Americans or Hispanics, or Asians or whatever) in foxholes” would that also be excusable? What if someone said there were “no Christians in foxholes.”? Would that be OK? Hell no! The religions concerned would be up in arms!
>
> Fortunately for those of us who believe in the rule of law, the laws of this land are not dictated by the deities or scriptures of any faith, but by the secular Constitution and laws written in accordance with it. As Jefferson wrote;
>
>> “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” – letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814
>
> Some folks may not like it but that is the fact of the matter.
>
> As to GEN Eisenhower, (who is often quoted as stating something along these lines), he never served in combat in any war. In WW I, he was assigned stateside to organize and train the new tank corps. In WW II, his job was first in Washington, and later he was elevated to the supreme command because of his organizational skills and because Roosevelt and Churchill realized he was the only one who could induce the others to cooperate. Patton, Montgomery and the rest, though splendid tactical leaders, were simply too egotistical to submit to one another. Eisenhower, despite his non-combat status being scoffed at by Patton and Montgomery, was an able manager of men and organizations, and a smooth politician who was able to soothe the ruffled feathers of prima donna generals.
>
> So GEN Eisenhower, who never personally saw combat, was no more qualified to speak about atheists in battle than any other man who has never seen combat, thus making any reference to him as some sort of authority null and void. Q.E.D.
>
>
>


It has been well said that “the man who says there is no God is a fool.”

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

I was hoping to have a real conversation with you (name withheld). Instead you turned around and showed your ass.

You couldn’t win the battle of who’s the biggest badass since you were a POG and I called you on it, respectfully. Then you couldn’t believe that you were trounced by an atheist – note you never responded to me, only my fellow compadres.

Then you went into a one-line diatribe degrading atheists as fools. Well, prior to my deconversion I was studying to be a pastor and I do recall this one excellent passage that I think fits YOU quite well.

Matthew 5:22

But I say unto you, That whosever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

You are angry at us without cause and I TRIED – TRIED – to reason with you and explain why we are on the same side. And you still ignored my pleading. Then out of your arrogant pride you called us fools – or specifically myself and FJ Taylor, since Mikey is Jewish and the vast majority of MRFF is comprised of Christians – which by your very own measure of good and evil means you face an eternity in hell….

Enjoy your eternity of ignorance

Very Respectfully,
Paul Loebe
Special Projects Manager
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Chicago, IL

*Disclaimer: Although I am a Marine Staff Sergeant I do not speak on behalf of the Department of Defense, United States Marine Corps, or any affiliated branches.*

Share this page:

Commenter Account Access

  • Register for a commenter account
    (Not required to post comments, but will save you time if you're a regular commenter)
  • Log in using your existing account
  • Click here to edit your profile and change your password
  • All comments are subject to our Terms of Use

1 Comment

  1. Staff Sgt. Dan Vicars

    for those who do not understand, God gives all peoples on this Earth, including our American Servicemen ( thank you for your service) the right to choose, the same as the Constitution of the United States does. No man can force, this belief on any other human being. I have read a lot of men putting down Religion including the Christian Religion, but may I ask a question? When I go to the gravesides of so many brave men in our National Cemeteries “Why do so many of them have crosses, stars of David, and other religious symbols on them” ?? I would think if there were so many were atheist out there, they would have a “Monkey” or something relating to evolution on there grave,. This is not to Put any one down, for we all have the right to choose. I ” thank” every person that is fighting or has fought for our country no matter what his or Her beliefs are. and I pray “God bless America and our military forces, and protect them”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*