A chaplain at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska was ordered to remove a religious column he had written titled, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave all in World War II,” because it allegedly offended atheists serving on the Air Force base.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes confirmed to Fox News that he wrote the original essay that appeared in his “Chaplain’s Corner” column on the base website.
Reyes recounted the origin of the phrase “There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.” Father William Cummings has largely been credited with uttering the phrase in Bataan during World War II.
President Eisenhower referenced the phrase during a speech to the American Legion in 1954, noting “I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in the foxholes.”
Reyes ended his essay with a reflection on faith.
“Everyone expresses some form of faith every day, whether it is religious or secular,” he wrote. “Some express faith by believing when they get up in the morning they will arrive at work in one piece, thankful they have been given another opportunity to enjoy the majesty of the day, or express relief the doctor’s results were negative.”
Reyes did not attack or insult atheists or non-believers in his column.
However, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation accused Reyes of going on an “anti-secular diatribe” and publicly denigrating “those without religion.”
They fired off a letter to the Air Force base allegedly on behalf of 42 anonymous airmen who allegedly complained.
“In the civilian world, such anti-secular diatribe is protected free speech,” wrote MRFF’s Blake Page in a letter to Col. Brian Duffy, the base commander. “Beyond his most obvious failure in upholding regulations through redundant use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members by telling them that regardless of their personally held philosophical beliefs they must have faith.”
The Air Force agreed and approximately five hours after the MRFF complained, they removed the chaplain’s essay.
“While certainly not intended to offend, the article has been removed from our website,” Col. Duffy wrote in an email to the MRFF. “We remain mindful of the governing instructions on this matter and will work to avoid recurrence.”