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Resistance to Atheist Becoming Navy Chaplain


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Atheist Republic (News)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): n.d.

According to Commercial Appeal, there is active work to prevent an atheist from becoming a navy chaplain.

Mid-South senators are taking a stand to block an atheist from becoming a U.S. navy chaplain. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., sent a letter to the Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson.

In the letter, Wicker wanted them to reject the application of a secular-humanist from acquisition of a post as a U.S. Navy chaplain. Wicker is a U.S. Air Force veteran and is a member of the Senate armed services committee.

As many as 22 other senators signed the letter with him. The letter expressed the fear that the U.S. Navy “may expand the Chaplain Corps beyond its clear purpose of protecting and facilitating the constitutional right of service members to the free exercise of religion.”

Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran did not sign the letter. Prominent individuals who signed the letter were Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz.

Jason Heap is the atheist trying to become a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. In 2014, he was endorsed by the Humanist Society. Heap sued. He lost.

The letter from the senators said, “The Navy has sufficient authority to create programs for humanist or atheist service members. … The Chaplain Corps is not the appropriate place. The Chaplain Corps serves religious needs, not philosophical preferences.”

One letter with the endorsement of 45 House members makes similar lines of reasoning. Hement Mehta had commentary stating, “It’s an absurd, literal argument that does a disservice to those actually serving in the Navy… Just because atheism isn’t a religion, per se, doesn’t mean that non-religious soldiers don’t have emotional needs. Depriving them of a chaplain who speaks their language hurts our military.”


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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