Jason Heap is an atheist, but he doesn’t see why that should prevent him from being a chaplain in the U.S.Navy.
Heap is a 38-year-old Texas native and religious scholar who also just happens to not believe in God. Still, he has submitted an application to the Armed Forces Chaplains Board to become the first humanist chaplain in military history.
He meets all of the requirements and passed a physical, but the fact that he isn’t a practicing Christian seems to have halted his application. Some lawmakers are actually trying to prevent atheists from joining the chaplain’s corps saying that only “religious” people should be able to hold such responsibilities
Still, Jason Heap holds master’s degrees from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University and Oxford University, and has taught religious studies in Britain. He said that he’s not trying to make a point. He genuinely just wants to serve his country as a chaplain.
“I am aware there are many who would be reticent or militant against that,” he said. “But at the end of the day, my job is not to inculcate my viewpoints onto other people. My job as a chaplain is to be a facilitator, someone who cares for people, someone who is a sounding board.”
House lawmakers approved an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill which would block atheists from becoming chaplains.
“The notion of an atheist chaplain is nonsensical; it’s an oxymoron,” said Rep. John Fleming, who sponsored the amendment.
But Heap stresses that he just wants to help, and believes that atheists deserve representation in the chaplain corps.
“We want to participate. We want to be part of the team,” he said. “There are more atheists than any other single non-Christian group in the military. We deserve to be represented, too.”
Do you think Jason Heap should be allowed to become the Navy’s first atheist chaplain?