How atheists are forced to attend chapel in military training
When I was in military basic training, I was not forced to go to chapel. I though was required to clean the barracks with the other "heathens" while those who went to chapel didn't. Of course they had a right to go to chapel, but they should have been required to help clean the barracks afterwards or us non-religious, humanists, atheists etc should have had our own time off to read books by Kurt Vonnegut, Bertrand Russell or other humanist authors.
Well, some atheists in the military were heavily pressured or required to attend chapel while in basic training. Just like coaches pushing their religion on athletes in public schools, there are drill sergeants doing the same with recruits, but recruits have even less ability to stand up for their rights. In basic training, a drill sergeant is quite literally, at least a demi-god.
Justin Griffith is the military director of American Atheists. He relays his experience as a young recruit at basic training. Unfortunately, his experience is all too common. It seems my own experience was rather mild compared to many other atheists in the military. I guess it depends on how evangelical in their religion, your drill sergeants and officers above you, are in fact. He writes of being in in an assembly early in basic where different lines were being formed, for those of differing religions:
I looked for the “not attending church” line, but could not find it. I was instead ordered to line up in the non-denominational line.
I sounded off, “Sir, This Recruit requests permission to not attend church services, Sir!”
Another platoon’s Drill Instructor interrogated and berated me for quite some time as I continued to respond with that phrase. Finally he gave in and took me back to the barracks where my Drill Instructor did the same. Eventually he too gave in and put me to work cleaning different areas of the barracks.
My Senior Drill Instructor (a church choir singer and devout christian) was then informed. He attempted the interrogation and berating, having the same effect. Later he had both a private and a public “Hats off” more polite conversation urging me to attend church services. Again I sounded off with the phrase that became my mantra. ”Sir, This Recruit requests permission to not attend church services, Sir!” He then seemed to want nothing to do with me since I wouldn’t “Do this for him.”
At least he stopped trying to force me to go.