[Vision2020] Christian Warrior Sets Down Soldiers' Meeting in Iraq

nickgier at adelphia.net nickgier at adelphia.net
Thu Sep 13 01:26:03 PDT 2007

Bart Meltzer,
Director of State and Regional Operations,
American Atheists, Inc.
bm at atheists.bm@

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for
nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and
addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)


Thought you'd be interested in this report of the first-ever meeting of
Atheist service-members in Iraq under the umbrella of the MAAF-Iraq chapter
of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. This meeting was
put together by the same young MAAF member who recently had his second
letter published in the Stars and Stripes.

One of our members, a young Atheist enlisted soldier, thought he would like
to see if he could generate some interest in MAAF meetings at his Forward
Operating Base (FOB) here in Iraq (not the base I'm at, by the way). He got
things coordinated and started hanging flyers, and after weeks of having to
re-hang his flyers almost daily because some vandal kept tearing them down,
he finally succeeded in having a small MAAF meeting. I wasn't there because
the meeting wasn't on my FOB, but I knew he was holding it and was expecting
to hear from him after the meeting. Keep in mind that this young soldier
did everything right - he went through the Chaplain's office and jumped
through all the hoops it takes to legally hold meetings that are religiously
or philosophically based. Four soldiers attended this meeting - all of them
very junior enlisted soldiers with the exception of one Major (an O-4), who
claimed to be a "freethinker"

Well, to make a very long story a little shorter, the Major turned out to be
a fundamentalist Christian who verbally berated the other attendees, accused
them of plotting against Christians and disrespecting soldiers who have died
protecting the Constitution, and threatened them with punishment under the
UCMJ for their activities (said they were "going down") and said he would do
whatever it took to shut the meetings down. Keep in mind that by this point,
he had two of the attendees (one soldier fled when the shouting started)
standing at the position of attention so that he could yell at them, berate
them, and humiliate them. This apparently went on for several minutes at
which time the Major shut down the meeting by saying he wasn't some
"push-over Chaplain" and that he would not tolerate the meetings to

The young MAAF member who hosted the meeting is absolutely freaked out about
what happened, but he said he's going to continue with the meetings and
isn't going to be bullied by the prayer warriors. I've advised him to
immediately notify the Chaplain sponsor of what happened to get guidance
while I try to figure out what to do next. I should hear something back
from him tonight sometime and there's even a small possibility I might be
able to score a mission to his FOB and attend one of his meetings in the
next few weeks (if I do, I'll meet with the Chaplain in person).

As for immediate action, he's going to get me the names of his Chaplain
sponsor and the name of the officer who disrupted the meeting. My intent
right now is to make a formal report to the most senior Chaplain I can find
along with possibly an Equal Opportunity complaint against the officer if we
can get him fully identified. I may not be eligible to make that complaint
because I wasn't there, but I can at least smooth the way for this young
troop to make one if he elects to. At the very least, I can make the EO
office formally aware of what happened there.

More info will follow when I get it, but right now, feel free to disseminate
this information since I've intentionally sanitized it for names and
locations. I will be happy to forward any words of support to him if they
get mailed to my milatheist at aol.mil address - he could really use some
encouragement right now, I think.


Kathleen Johnson,
Military Director,
American Atheists, Inc.
kjohnson at atheists.kjo

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