An Atheist in a Foxhole

CNN puts an atheist soldier as its top story on the web side. The soldier has filed suit alleging that he has been subject to discrimination because he is an atheist. I appreciate the attention the soldier is getting for standing up for his beliefs (or lack thereof), but its typical of CNN to focus on a negative military story when a lot of positive things are happening right now.

Anyway, the soldier sounds like a sharp kid and is modest about his situation without sounding bitter. I assume there is much more to the story and its does not include quotes from those who served with him. However, I did enjoy this quote:

It eventually came out in Iraq in 2007, when he was in a firefight. Hall
was a gunner on a Humvee, which took several bullets in its protective shield.
Afterward, his commander asked whether he believed in God, Hall said.

"I said, 'No, but I believe in Plexiglas,"' Hall said. "I've never
believed I was going to a happy place. You get one life. When I die, I'm worm

One issue the story raises is that there seems to a belief in the American military that sound religious beliefs are necessary for effective leadership and that belief is necessary in general. It is not difficult to imagine how this type of thinking was ingrained in the military, but I think it is unfortunate. It is obvious that an atheist can serve or lead as well as anyone else. For a good example of bravery by a soldier who was not the typical blue-blooded Christian soldier, read this moving Christopher Hitchens piece.

On another Iraq note, despite media reports to the contrary, things are going well in Basra. For an in-depth analysis of how the surge was developed and implements, check here.

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