Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Reyes came under fire from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation earlier this week for posting a column titled “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II” on an Air Force base website.
Serving at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, Reyes was ordered to remove the column from the “Chaplain’s Corner” on the site because it allegedly offended atheist servicemen. The MRFF claimed that 42 airmen had complained and sent a letter on their behalf to the base commander about Reyes’s crime:
In the civilian world, such anti-secular diatribe is protected free speech. Beyond his most obvious failure in upholding regulations through redundant use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, “no atheists in foxholes,” he defiles the dignity of service members by telling them that regardless of their personally held philosophical beliefs they must have faith.
The essay, whose title was drawn from a famous phrase uttered by a priest during a siege in WWII and referred to in a 1954 speech by Eisenhower, was removed from the website after the MRFF contacted Reyes’s superiors. Now the Foundation is seeking to have the chaplain punished for his “faith based hate” and for violating military regulations.
No such regulation seems to exist that would merit censoring Reyes, and his column (which, for the record, did not attack non-believers) should be protected by the First Amendment. The MRFF is essentially “saying that the coercive power of government must be used to punish a military office, who is also an ordained Christian minister, for making ordinary religious references consistent with his faith,” according to Breitbart.
Everyone expresses some form of faith every day, whether it is religious or secular.
Some express faith by believing when they get up in the morning they will arrive at work in one piece, thankful they have been given another opportunity to enjoy the majesty of the day; or express relief the doctor’s results were negative.