Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Atheist Soldier and His Christian Buddies

He's an atheist and a soldier from Fort Bragg and is suing the Army for bigotry and harassment. In his lawsuit filed against the Army, Spec. Jeremy Hall accuses Maj. Freddy J. Welborn of threatening him and another atheist soldier with charges and a re-enlistment ban due to their 'beliefs.' Hall alleges Welborn attended a meeting of atheists and others described as free-thinkers in Iraq last July and issued threats shortly after the talk began. Hall eventually filed the lawsuit along with the advocacy group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, in federal court in Junction City. The suit alleges Hall's First Amendment right to be free from state-sponsored religion had been violated. Hall returned from Iraq last November after allegedly being threatened by a number of his fellow soldiers.

Odd stuff. Hall was interviewed on CBS this morning and seems like a decent person and a patriotic soldier who, he said, wanted to make a career out of the Army. His religious beliefs ended all of that.

Amazing stuff, isn't it? Wouldn't you think that hired military men, that is, the all-volunteer army, would attract atheists? After all, aren't they all amoral? I mean, they are all going to Hell anyway, so why not let them kill as many bad guys as they can on the way?

Makes you wonder, if this story is true, why religious belief is so pervasive in the United States military. Jesus taught, 'love your neighbor,' and, 'blessed is the peacemaker.' Jesus stayed the sword of Peter as he was being arrested. Quite the paradox for the American soldier.

Curious scenario: soldiers on each side of the battle line praying to a Deity for victory and safety as if that Deity would take sides in the conflict. Quite the imagination.

On the topic of imagination, I read an article today in New Scientist by Maurice Bloch titled, Religion a figment of human imagination. Anthropologist Maurice Bloch of the London School of Economics challenges the popular notion that religion evolved and spread because it promoted social bonding, as has been argued by some anthropologists. Instead, he argues that first, we had to evolve the necessary brain architecture to imagine things and beings that don't physically exist, and the possibility that people somehow live on after they've died. In other words, religion is really a result of human imagination.

Or, in the case of Army, Spec. Jeremy Hall, he can't imagine all of that, and, as a result, has undergone harassment and shame from those whose imagination run wild. Seems to me that an unimaginative soldier would be more prized than one whose mind drifts off into the ethereal. But then, what the hell do I know!

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