Atheists in Alaska: Chaplain's essay condemned over World War II reference

Monday, July 29, 2013
Chad Groening (

A retired U.S. Army chaplain calls it an outrage that the U.S. Air Force once again caved to the demands of an anti-Christian zealot on a mission to crush religious expression in the military. 

“‘No atheists in foxholes’ has been a saying around the military for decades,” says retired Col. Ron Crews, who served as an Army chaplain for 28 years.

Crews was referring to the backlash directed at Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes, who made reference to the 60-year-old adage in a commentary posted on the military website for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

Crews, Col. Ron (Chaplain Alliance)Reyes told Todd Starnes at Fox News that the commentary was posted on his “Chaplain’s Corner” and was removed by the base commander.

The commentary was entitled, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave all in World War II.” It retold the story of a Catholic priest who coined the phrase at the battle of Corregidor, when non-Catholics were attending his services.  The priest later died of starvation after sharing his food with others.

Apparently it was the “atheist” portion of the title that hurt the feelings of atheists who read it, since a base spokesman told Starnes the commentary was removed “out of respect for those who considered its title offensive.”

But the atheists weren’t finished with Lt. Colonel Reyes.   

Michael Weinstein, who heads the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, learned of the commentary and is demanding that the Air Force punish Reyes for what he called an “anti-secular diatribe” for using the "no atheists in foxholes" reference.

Weinstein’s organization is demanding “punitive measures” and “counseling” against Reyes, and against those who allowed him to publish the essay on the website.  


Weinstein says he created the organization to battle the “far-right, militant, radical, evangelical, religious fundamentalists.”

Crews, meanwhile, serves as executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, which has been documenting anti-religous movement in the military during the Obama administration. 

Crews says Weinstein's Military Religious Freedom Foundation is clearly misnamed.

"The proper name for his organization should be Freedom from Religion Foundation,”  says the former chaplain, “because that appears to be his understanding of what religious freedom means: that there should not be any mention of religion or faith in the public square, and especially in our military."

Crews says the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is asking the chaplain's commander to apologize to Chaplain Reyes and put his posting back on the base website. 

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