Posted in: Religion

Jason Heap Wants To Be Navy’s First Atheist Chaplain

Jason Heap atheist

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?

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7 Responses to “Jason Heap Wants To Be Navy’s First Atheist Chaplain”

  1. Patrick Frye

    Secular humanism was declared a religion by the Supreme Court and various atheists have won lawsuits where they requested atheism identified as a religion for legal purposes. Atheists tend to share a limited common set of beliefs, but besides counseling what would an atheist chaplain do? Unfortunately, the majority of atheist organizations tend to focus on attacking other religions and you have to wonder whether atheist chaplains would focus on "negative outreach" instead of positive projects.

  2. DeeCee Fish

    The christian chaplains already have the "negative outreach" thing covered. Those with "atheist" or "no religious preference" on their tags are seen as fair game for converting–and this appears to be supported structurally, by the "spiritual fitness" programs in the military. Not only are atheists targets, but "the wrong kind of Christians" are pressured to be more evangelical. The MRFF (Military Religious Freedom Foundation) notes that "Over 33,000 active duty members of the United States Armed Forces have come to our foundation as victims of spiritual and psychological torment and brutal bullying. 96% of them are Christians themselves."

    Perhaps *all* chaplains should be secular, so they aren't tempted to attempt conversions when they should be counseling.