I walked up the the book display and saw a large Father's Day display consisting of the book, No Atheists in Foxholes by Chaplain Patrick McLaughlin. As an atheist veteran, I'm flabbergasted at the denial of reality some Christians have about the existence of atheists in the military. When I was in the Air Force, I knew plenty of people who were either atheist or agnostic. In fact it seemed that it was more common to be nonreligious than in the regular civilian world.
The December 2004 Population Bulletin - America's Military Population, Vol. 59, No.4 which analyzes the US Armed Forces regarding race, religion, ethnicity, civilian background, education, etc. A copy of the report is located at the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.
Religious affiliation or the lack of it is addressed on page 25 of the bulletin. According to the bulletin, the percentage of service members identifing themselves as nonreligious is larger than in the civilian population, even taking into account the younger average age of service members. In the civilian population, younger people are significantly more nonreligious than older people.
We do know the civilian American population has been moving away from the traditional Christian religions and toward other religious groups or eschewing any religious affiliation.34 This latter trend is particularly pronounced among young adults, exactly the age groups most likely to enter the military. In general, the armed forces show lower religious affiliation than the civilian population, even among civilians ages 20 to 39 (see Table 5). A larger share of military than civilians reported they are Christians but are not Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox or Protestant, or do not specify a denomination.This report shows the higher number of the nonreligious in the services, but also the higher number of non-denominational Christians in the military. A lot of non-denominational churches are heavily evangelical. The large number of non-denominational chaplains who have entered the service in the last 15 years may account for the increased friction between the nonreligious service members and the evangelical Christians that have made the news in the last few years.
Oh and this blog is one year old today. It's been a lot of fun and I hope to continue for another year. A big thanks to all of my readers.