Humanist services at Lackland raise eyebrows — but draw crowds

Oct 4, 2017

By J.p. Lawrence

“Please don’t jump down my throat,” Taylor Grin thought as he approached his training instructor with a request.

It was 2013, and Grin was a few weeks into Air Force basic training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. He had just learned which religious services were available to trainees — Catholic, several Protestant denominations, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist, among others.

Grin, then 26, considered himself a secular humanist, someone who pursues an ethical life without a belief in God. With no chaplain-facilitated service for trainees like him, he wanted to start one — and became a key player in a national culture war playing out within the U.S. military.

With a commander’s blessing, Grin and seven others met in a lobby Sundays, picking up new members from recruits headed to nearby restrooms. The weekly meetings now attract 1,000 trainees or more, a major share of the roughly 3,800 who attend religious services each week.

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One comment on “Humanist services at Lackland raise eyebrows — but draw crowds”

  • @OP – link –The meetings are a refereed discussion of a range of topics — morality, mortality, ethics, grief, stress — but no worship of a deity or deference to a religious leader.
    Gettman is endorsed by the Washington, D.C.-based Humanists Society as a chaplain and celebrant but has no such status in the military chaplaincy.
    She identifies as an atheist and agnostic, too.

    The services still go unmentioned during trainee orientation or in brochures listing available religious services.
    And Torpy said commanders have rejected attempts by his group to start similar meetings at Army basic training facilities at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

    But after the Navy held off a request for two years, a humanist meeting now has grown to 85 attendees at its boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois, said Ray Doeksen, an Army veteran and lay leader there.
    He still can’t advertise it to trainees.

    The ultimate goal is a humanist chaplain, Doeksen said, adding, “I won’t be happy until we’re on a level playing field.”

    It seems that the air-force, who need more thinking people with brains, are leading the way despite obstructionism from the delusional worshippers of unthinking authority!



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