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Fleming Amendment to Block Military from Appointing Atheist Chaplains Passes House

The notion of an atheist chaplain is nonsensical; it’s an oxymoron.

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Washington, D.C., July 24, 2013 | Doug Sachtleben ((202) 225-2777) | comments
Congressman John Fleming, M.D., released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted Tuesday night to pass his amendment that would prevent the Department of Defense from appointing chaplains without an endorsing agency:

“The notion of an atheist chaplain is nonsensical; it’s an oxymoron. This is the third time since June that the House has sent a message to the Department of Defense that atheist chaplains should not be appointed. Since General George Washington instituted the military chaplaincy, chaplains have served a vital role in serving the spiritual needs of our Armed Forces. It is absurd to argue that someone with no spiritual inclination should fill that role, especially when it could well mean that such an individual would take the place of a true chaplain who has been endorsed by a religious organization. Opponents of my amendment make vastly exaggerated claims about the religious demographics of the military. In reality, less than one percent of service members self-identify as atheists, and all chaplains stand ready to serve any member of the Armed Forces, regardless of whether he or she shares the chaplain's faith.”

Note: Representative Fleming’s remarks in support of his amendment on the House floor can be seen here. The amendment passed with a bipartisan vote of 253-173.

Dr. John Fleming is Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He is a physician and small business owner and represents the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana.
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