Direct Letters

The two letters below can be sent directly to chaplains and or commanders. MAAF members should take time, at least anonymously, to send these letters to your leaders. The letters are essentially the same, but the message is essentially the same. Personalization relevant to your experience and your unit and then cut and paste these into email or regular mail. This kind of outreach is critical to increase awareness.

Letter to commanders

Dear Commander,

I am writing on behalf of tens of thousands of atheists and many other reasonable service members who ask for equal treatment of all service members. Recently, many chaplains have made the statement that there are no atheists in foxholes. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers is an organization that disproves the myth. Atheists, freethinkers, and other nontheists have served the United States and other countries in conflicts throughout history.

I am writing to let you know that atheists are in your unit as well, and I hope that your command climate allows all service members will make statements to ensure that we have your support. Although your chaplains are trained specifically in their own religion, it is important that they also take time for those many service members, theist and nontheist, who do not share their own personal religion. Chaplain duties require both support the morale of the unit and to advise the command on the morale of the unit. In addition, chaplains have a special opportunity for counseling on a variety of issues. In order to ensure a cohesive, effective unit, I hope you will ensure chaplains reach out to all service members, on their own terms.

As your chaplains speak and pray at ceremonies and other events, I ask that you take time to reach out to nontheist service members. Because of some religious statements of national leaders and military leaders, as well as the tradition of prayer at military ceremonies, nontheist service members can easily be divided from the unit due to passive discrimination. Nontheist service members often suffer from negative treatment that is fueled by a chain of command that passively and sometimes overtly supports discrimination. I ask that you lead the way in promoting accommodation of all service members by making public statements that nontheist service members deserve respect and support.

At the command level, we have the opportunity to focus on the unit's mission and our mutual duties to the Constitution. We can find common ground in these things. Please visit the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers at www.militaryatheists.org for resources, related organizations, and more information.

Letter to chaplains

Dear Chaplain,

I am writing on behalf of tens of thousands of atheists and many other reasonable service members who ask for equal treatment of all service members. Recently, many chaplains have made the statement that there are no atheists in foxholes. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers is an organization that disproves the myth. Atheists, freethinkers, and other nontheists have served the United States and other countries in conflicts throughout history.

I am writing to let you know that atheists are in your unit as well, and I hope you will make statements to ensure that we have your support. Although you and other chaplains are trained specifically in your own religion, I ask that you also take time for those many service members, theist and nontheist, who do not share your personal religion. You have important duties to both support the morale of the unit and to advise the command on the morale of the unit. In addition, you have duties for counseling on a variety of issues. In order to ensure a cohesive, effective unit, I hope you will reach out to all service members.

Although you may be open to assisting nontheist service members, I would ask that you consider making specific statements to that end. Because of some religious statements of national leaders and military leaders, as well as the tradition of prayer at military ceremonies, nontheist service members can easily be divided from the unit due to passive discrimination. Nontheist service members often suffer from negative treatment that is fueled by a chain of command that passively and sometimes overtly supports discrimination. I ask that you lead the way in promoting accommodation of all service members by making public statements that nontheist service members deserve respect and support.

Although we may have conflicting views about the nature of the universe, ethics, or the best purpose of humanity, I hope that at least within the context of the unit's mission and our mutual duties to the Constitution, that we can find common ground. Please visit the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers at www.militaryatheists.org for resources, related organizations, and more information.