Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pastafarianism in the Military

I'm kind of breaking one of my self-imposed rules of life, and talking about religion.  Normally I avoid it (well, sober anyway,) because one of my biggest pet peeves is people forcing theirs on you, and one of the 8 I'd Really Rather You Didn'ts specifically says that's one of them.

However over at (the official site for the Church of the FSM,)
Here’s a guest post by Justin Griffith.  Justin is well known for his fight against the idea that “there are no Atheists in Foxholes”.  He was recently profiled in the New York Times for his activism.
Justin goes on to talk about how he actually managed to get a Drill Sergeant to smile in basic when he tried to confiscate his Holy book and his struggle to get the Big Army to realize there are honest to goodness Atheists in the ranks.

I have run into similar situations.  My current paperwork simply says "No religious preference," however as many have noted, just about everybody assumes that's just the same as Christian non-denominational.  My dog tags tell a different tale however-

However this last June I went through Soldier Readiness Processing.  This is basically a day when they go through all your records and see how squared away it is in the event you get called up for active duty.  Part of that is making sure you've got all your stuff in order in case you buy the farm, including you have the correct religious preference listed so they know what to do with you.

So I go in to talk to the Chaplain, and he looks at my form, looks at his list of "approved" religions, and says "I don't see this on my list.  Is it some sort of joke?"
"No. I'm Pastafarian."
"Well this is a serious thing.  If you die we want to make sure we don't upset your family.  You have to be serious about this."
"I am serious."
"Well, it's not on my list."
"Fine, just leave it No Preference.  Close freakin' enough." (It had been a long day, and it was my last station.)

It still does tend to be an issue.  It overwhelmingly feels like the leadership can't wrap their heads around the idea that some people simply are not religious(or fictitious Drill Instructors...)  At the same time, if you are one of those people, you don't really seem to get equal treatment to those who are.  Throughout Basic those that regularly attend a religious service basically get a couple hours off every week to go to their chosen service.  In my experience those that didn't go got to have a barracks party (cleaning for you civies. Due to this, I usually would go to the Catholic service, just for the time off.)

Maybe more Atheist soldiers will step forward and claim Pastafarian for their religion and we can get the Army to actually recognize it as a "religion."  It could be the simplest way to finally get some form of (non)religious equality for not having a religion.  There's definitely the numbers...
Defense Department statistics show that about 9,400 of the nation’s 1.4 million active-duty military personnel identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, making them a larger subpopulation than Jews, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists in the military.
Speaking of all this, I'm hoping to be officially ordained in the Church of the FSM, but I'm tight for cash, and it's $46.  There is, however, a Tip Jar over on the left... maybe I can get commissioned as a Chaplain...