No atheists in foxholes

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No atheists in foxholes

Postby DjVortex » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:39 pm

The propaganda saying "there are no atheists in foxholes" is so pervasive in the US that most people believe it, especially most people in the military (it seems).

That may be seemingly true, and it may in fact be caused by fear, but not the kind of fear that's implied in the saying. In other words, it's not because of the fear of the enemy, but because of the fear of their own comrades. An outspoken atheist in the US military would probably get discriminated, harassed and insulted. Thus most atheists in the military probably pretend being christians, thus making the saying technically speaking true, just not for the reason people like to believe.
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Re: No atheists in foxholes

Postby atheist_in_a_foxhole » Thu May 31, 2012 5:00 am

I am living proof the propaganda is wrong! I served in the Iraq war during much of 2003 (during the initial invasion and first months of the occupation) and by that time I had just about convinced myself that there was no reason to believe in a god. Although I did not yet consider myself "atheist" at that time, the fact that I had no faith means I was in fact atheist by default. When life-threatening situations arose (which happened more than once), I did not have time to think about god, even if I had been so inclined. I was busy making sure that I remembered my training, and trying to get myself into the best position to face what was coming. Although i did encounter some religious types in the field during my experience (including one of my squad leaders), I would venture to say that like me, many of my fellow soldiers were concerned more with the practical business at hand, rather than with praying.
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Re: No atheists in foxholes

Postby DjVortex » Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:10 pm

Welcome to the forum.

Not being a soldier myself, nor even American, I can only imagine what a soldier's life is in the US army. From everything I gather, it's probably quite difficult at times.

Personally, I perfectly understand that a soldier simply wants to do his part to defend his country, his fellow citizens, and to preserve peace, even if that means that sometimes drastic measures have to be taken. However, as far as I understand, many Americans (although probably not the majority) do not appreciate this, and only see the "drastic measures" part and nothing else, and do not have much respect for the soldiers. More prominently though, the rest of the world, especially Europe, is almost unanimously against the aggressive actions of the US. They oppose this so strongly that there has been an actual hatred of the US in Europe during the last decade. Attacking another country is, of course, always controversial; however, I really think that most of those people who strongly oppose these actions do not see the larger picture nor want to acknowledge that the situation is much more complicated and not so black-and-white as they naively seem to think.

Add atheism to the mix, and how strongly it's stigmatized in the US in general and the US army in particular, and I imagine it can be quite unbearable at times.
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Re: No atheists in foxholes

Postby atheist_in_a_foxhole » Sat Jun 16, 2012 4:34 am

Well, although I supported the action I participated in at the time, I am now very much ready to see US troops withdrawn from both theatres in western Asia. I would like to think the legacy of our involvement there would be a better life for the people there, but that is far from certain at this point. But there is a chance at least, if our leadership makes the right decisions.

Hatred would be a strong word, but I also sense much contempt for the European way of life here in the US. Mostly by people who don't understand how things work there. I spent a good bit of time in western Europe, particularly France, so I would like to think I have something of a better appreciation, but to many Americans, Europe represents decadence and failure. This is unfortunate, because I have met many people in France who were hardworking, upstanding people. It is unpopular here to say so, but I do think there are some things American society could learn from Europe. In particular, I would like it if America were more like Europe in respect of its secular society. Our history has unfortunately been influenced by a host of religious nutties, the ones that would have been causing problems in Europe had they not come here. Atheism seem to be moving apace here these days, though, and I hope in another generation or two the society will be transformed for the better as far as this is concerned. However, John Adams said something similar more than two hundred years ago, and it still has not happened for some reason.
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Re: No atheists in foxholes

Postby DjVortex » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:46 am

atheist_in_a_foxhole wrote:In particular, I would like it if America were more like Europe in respect of its secular society.


It's quite ironic that the majority of European countries are, technically speaking, theocratic instead of secular (in the sense that their constitutions and laws do not establish the separation of church and state, and in fact most countries have an official state church, which has special privileges over all other denominations, making them, technically speaking, theocratic governments) yet in practice most of them are some of the most secular governments and societies of the world. On the other hand, the United States is a truly secular government (because its constitution establishes the separation of church and state), yet it's one of the most religious countries in the (industrialized) world, where religion has a big impact at all societal levels, including the government.

Some people speculate that that's not completely a coincidence (although the exact mechanism for this to happen is up to debate).

I suppose that the most urgent thing that the US needs to learn from Europe is the European form of social security and healthcare. Here, generally speaking, people do not have to die or lose limbs just because they don't have money, yet the quality of healthcare is some of the world's highest.
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Re: No atheists in foxholes

Postby atheist_in_a_foxhole » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:25 am

Perhaps in Europe there was something hard and definite to fight against, an established church, resulting in a rather secular society in the end, whereas in America there was so much latitude on the religious question that zealots found fertile ground, while more rational thinkers felt unoppressed and did not challenge religious dogma in any meaningful way for many years.
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Re: No atheists in foxholes

Postby Iksandar » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:38 am

I didn't go the any of our wars..I was a conscientious objector (not easy for an atheist) but I did break with the Roman Catholic church while in hospital, in my teen years, totally paralyzed and unsure of my future. This seems to me to be a refutation of that platitude...that when in extremis we all turn to god.
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Re: No atheists in foxholes

Postby atheist_in_a_foxhole » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:38 am

That is the point, exactly. Whether in war or personal hardship, it is not necessarily a given that people turn to a god.

By the way, congratulations on having the courage to object to the war in the beginning. I know that was not a popular choice at the time, or even one that I myself would have agreed with. But it was a choice that you had every right to support as a free American. It has cost our own country and others a heavy toll in lives and money over the last decade, and your side of that argument may be proven right in the eyes of history. I am sure that your own hardship in your youth must have taught you that kind of courage. I can only imagine.
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