For an atheist in America, I have it pretty easy. I live on a college campus where a significant minority if not a majority of the students are non-religious and I have parents who are willing to accept that their children may not share their religious views. As such, I am pretty free to express my views, though I don’t usually make an issue of it.
Some don’t have it so lucky. One such person would be SPC Jeremy Hall, a U.S. soldier currently stationed in Iraq who happens to be an atheist. When he tried to form a meeting of non-Christian, the meeting was allegedly interrupted by a superior officer.
According to the court filing made by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation:
On August 7, 2007, plaintiff Hall attempted to conduct and participate in a meeting of individuals who consider themselves atheists, freethinkers, or adherents to non-Christian religions. With permission from an army chaplain, plaintiff Hall posted flyers around COB Speicher [an Army base located near Tikrit, Iraq] announcing the meeting. The meeting attendees included plaintiff Hall, other military personnel and nonmilitary personnel.
During the course of the meeting, defendant Welborne confronted the attendees, disrupted the meeting and interfered with the plaintiff Hall’s and the other attendees’ rights to discuss topics of their interests. During the confrontation, and because of plaintiff’s actions in organizing the meeting, defendant Welborne threatened plaintiff Hall with an action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and further threatened to prevent plaintiff Hall’s reenlistment in the United States Army.
This is a sad reminder that our country still has issues of tolerance to work through. Obviously we are not as bad as some Muslim states where apostasy is punishable by death, but for a country that was founded in part upon the idea of religious freedom, instances like this one are disappointing.