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Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Community Improvement & Capacity Building, International, Military & Veterans Organizations, National Security, Religion, Veterans

Mission: To provide a supportive community for nontheistic service members, to educate military leaders about nontheism, and to resolve insensitive practices that illegally promote religion or unethically discriminate against nontheists.

Results: We have over 30 active affiliate groups across the globe, send care packages out monthly to deployed personnel, and provided support, advocacy, and resources to promote the needs of our nontheist servicemembers.

Target demographics: US military and veterans especially humanists and other nontheists for the benefit of all

Direct beneficiaries per year: Several thousand military personnel through local group activities and care packages

Geographic areas served: Wherever the US military sends our men and women in uniform

Programs: care packages to troops overseas, support and social groups, education for the greater community, advocacy and outreach in relation to policies and procedures directly affecting military personnel.

Community Stories

38 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The one thing I hear from people all the time is how they thought, "I'm the only non-religious person in the area." MAAF helps end the isolation so many non-theists feel by providing a community where atheists feel accepted. Their support extends to all military through their packages to deployed soldiers and their efforts to make sure ALL soldiers are valued.

Client Served

Rating: 5

MAAF fills a dire gap in the theistically dominated US military ranks.
MAAF helps non-believers find comraderie & place to not only feel they belong, but to do good works - all in the face of religious military leaders who would shun & malign atheist when given the chance.
Thank you for being there & keep up the good work, MAAF!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers provides an absolutely essential service to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who are not religious. The Military Chaplaincy has been very explicit that they will not support the growing population of non-believing servicemembers. MAAF helps to provide support to these abandoned atheists and freethinkers.

Previous Stories
3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

MAAF has been wonderful. They supported our development of an atheist community at Fort Huachuca, providing literature and suggestions for networking. They supported us in an unsuccessful attempt to get support from the military chaplaincy and the garrison.

Erwin A. K.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a major supporter of MAAF. In the Netherlands we have fifty-three years humanist chaplaincy in the Armed Forces. In the almost twenty years that I work as a humanist chaplain (Royal Dutch Marines), I have noticed that I can make a difference for soldiers and veterans. During my tour of duties, including Iraq and Jordan, I spoke to many American soldiers who would like to go to a humanist chaplain. I hope that atheists and freethinkers in the United States are treated in the same way as Chirstians and Muslims. Let's think about boundaries and work together for peace and security. Col. Erwin Kamp MA, Head of the Humanist Chaplaincy in the Dutch Armed Forces.

KC1203

Donor

Rating: 5

As a political activist, I highly value organizations that vigilantly work to address violations of the necessary separation between church and state. As an atheist, I greatly appreciate organizations that provide much-needed support to non-theists in our overwhelmingly religious society, particularly those non-theists who may feel uniquely isolated or unsupported. That's why, despite the fact I have no military background, I strongly support MAAF. MAAF's leadership and volunteers are dedicated, hard-working, and compassionate, and routinely go above and beyond to provide help and support for our service members. I'm proud to be a regular donor.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful organization - truly an advocate for military members!

Client Served

Rating: 5

In 2013, I was about to start basic training with the USAF. I emailed MAAF, worried that if I didn't attend church, I would be given extra duty. What followed was a chain of events leading to the creation of Humanist Services at Lackland. Jason Torpy reached out to local volunteers and together, they were able to provide services that now benefit about 1,000 trainees every week. I can't ever thank MAAF enough for what they've done, providing a space for Humanists in the military, and helping so many young people find a place they can feel at home.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

MAAF does great work and truly strives to reach those who often feel they are "outsiders" in the military community. I spent thirty years in uniform and have watched the active force turn slowly into a religious cadre of proselytizers. This drift from love of country to a religious bent within the ranks often leaves the non-believing atheist, agnostic, humanist, and secular fighting man and woman feeling isolated. MAAF, and and its leadership, work diligently to make sure there is someone who "has their back." The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers is truly a "candle in the dark."

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Amazing outreach and advocacy. Ensures representation of our non-theist military personnel around the globe!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

MAAF is the only organization that has reached out to breach the isolation felt by many freethinking cadets at West Point and to help them feel part of a secular community. Without MAAF's encouragement West Point would not have created a club to support secular cadets.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The one thing I hear from people all the time is how they thought, "I'm the only non-religious person in the area." MAAF helps end the isolation so many non-theists feel by providing a community where atheists feel accepted. Their support extends to all military through their packages to deployed soldiers and their efforts to make sure ALL soldiers are valued.

Previous Stories
2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

MAAF stands up for those in the military who are often overlooked, or even worse, denigrated for their lack of religious belief. Local MAAF chapters; MASH (Military Atheists & Secular Humanist) units, provide a welcoming respite from the overly religious environments many service members find themselves in. Like-minded people coming together for meals, debates, community projects and the peace of mind you get from not having to watch every word you say. MAAF National is actively involved with local groups, they even came to the Fayetteville NC Dogwood Festival to support our local group, MASH Ft. Bragg. Jason & Rose are great!!

If you are a non-theist in the military or a veteran, joining MAAF is a great way to amplify your voice!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

MAAF sent me monthly care packages while I was deployed. We got care packages from churches too, but it was great to get something from an organization that aligned with my interests and beliefs; I really felt supported. Thanks!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Cheerful and highly supportive central leadership, provides useful advice & materials and facilitates contact with other groups to ensure even the isolated feel part of a wider community of action.

2 Beth131

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The leadership is very active and helpful. They are trying very hard to get the word out that atheists in the military have a community to reach out to.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

Was president of the first MAAF?MASH group at Fort Bragg in 2011/12. MAAF president deliberately presents false information to the public through the media and other non-profit organizations in order to justify organizations agenda. Does not work with satellite groups at actual military facilities but attempts to align him-self with work being done at a grass roots level and take credit for it. Very unprofessional and unorganized group.

Comments ( 1 )

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Rosalind E. 12/16/2014

We appreciate you taking the time to leave this review. MAAF would like to take a moment to comment on the items you have posted. 1. MAAF, MAAF President Jason Torpy, and the Executive Board fact check before presenting any information to the media and general public to ensure that the best and correct information is distributed. This is done to ensure that all our servicemembers are receiving equal rights and the same opportunities. 2. MAAF works closely with local Affiliate groups at varying levels. The organization hired an Outreach Coordinator in 2014 to ensure that each local group has the support and resources they need to achieve their goals and support nontheist servicemembers locally. MAAF promotes each group and the successes they have, not to take credit, but to encourage others to get involved locally, to be supported, and help develop the local communities in and around military installations. 3. MAAF employees and the Executive Board do their best to promote the nontheist community, ensure the rights of all servicemembers, and exhibit the very best qualities expected of military service. Each day that the organization is in operation is a day of improvement over the ones that came before. MAAF is in a period of growth, and we are developing even better practices and outreach activities. We hope you will continue to observe MAAF activities and perhaps participate again. The group at Fort Bragg is very active in their community, and organize monthly gatherings for themselves to come together as a community in order to meet their own needs, and those of their community. Warm Regards, Rosalind Eaton Outreach & Operations Coordinator

2 James154

Donor

Rating: 5

I joined MAAF because atheists and those who don't need a religion, don't have anyone on their side in the military. The small number of religious have a large organization supporting them but that doesn't help the majority of the military who are not religious. MAAF is a counter-weight to the strong bias in favor of the religious minority in the military.
MAAF is a great organization and I encourage everyone to join.
Jacksonville, FL, USN (Ret)

3 David275

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

They provide moral support for our service people who believe in humanity over religious dogma. They stand up for true equality in the military, not just for those who are Christians. They provide for a support network for those not supported otherwise. Being in the military is a very taxing life. Being an atheist/freethinker in a predominantly Christian population is a burden at times. MAAF helps the same way any community helps one feel a part of things important and lets them know they are not alone.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I am retired Navy. In my Navy career, I found the vast majority of service members to be non-religious or atheists. Yet the military does not acknowledge this fact. So when I found out there was a group who valued me and was willing to fight for the rights of the majority, I quickly became a paying member. I strongly recommend anyone who is a veteran to join MAAF to protect our religious freedom. This is a great organization. http://militaryatheists.org/

3 Sara116

Client Served

Rating: 5

MAAF is an outstanding organization that makes good on a service member's declaration to support and defend the Constitution. Service members give up a lot when they join, but their own First Amendment rights shouldn't be one of them. MAAF's advocacy, education, and outreach work towards ensuring that service members stationed all over the world have a support network and know that someone is working back home for them.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

MAAF provides me with confidence and camaraderie. I was so happy to find them in a time when I was feeling so choked by religion and the religious in my southern town. As an atheist military spouse to a Christian service member, I find chastisement at every turn; this organization gives me hope that one day, secularists will be met with acceptance and respect.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers has sent me two care packages since I have left on deployment. They were filled with all kinds of goodies from cliff bars to wet wipes and q-tips. It is very appreciated what they do. Although I cannot wear the fox hole Atheist pin they sent me I put in in my rack and it puts a smile on my face every night before i got to bed. This is a great association for us atheist serving. Thanks MAAF for all you do.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm currently on deployment in the USS Bush carrier strike group aboard the USS Roosevelt. I just received my care package. I just wanted to say thank you and I am glad there is an organization supporting atheist military members. To anyone reading this that is a closeted non-believer: You are not alone!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization is the only voice for those that serve this country with secular values. There are many of us. Without this group the chatter from religious groups would be the only voice heard. Great Group that I fully support. SSgt USMC

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

MAAF is something I could have used during trying times when I served in the United States Air Force. Back then, the old "go to" was the Base Chaplains Office, and they were totally unsuited to serve the needs for the many "atheists in foxholes". My son is serving his third deployment, and I am very glad MAAF is there for him if ever he needs emotional support from like-minded people. I have made sure to let him know about this marvelous humanist support group.

Michael W. Ash, MSgt, USAF (Retired)
Pensacola Florida

4 QueenoftheBarn

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

These military men and women are putting their lives on the line for their country while being denied the most basic of rights, freedom of religion. MAAF is working diligently to secure the rights guaranteed to them by our constitution, and to end the ubiquitous belief that being non religious equates to being unpatriotic.
Military non-believers have served our country in every war we have fought. We as free citizens of the United States owe them our support for the sacrifices they continue to make on our behalf.
They deserve nothing less.

3 Marty E.

Donor

Rating: 5

MAAF is a very transparent organization that fights for the rights of an underrepresented group. They constantly keep members and donors informed of where their money is being spent and they are always there to fight for the rights of military personnel who feel uncomfortable being accosted in their workplace.

3 Christopher51

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Their work is greatly needed and I appreciate their service.

3 Kate G.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

MAAF always steps up to protect and enhance basic human rights not only in the military, but beyond. Without MAAF, soldiers and their families would be bereft of alternative resources. MAAF's tireless social media efforts go far to support all soldiers and equality regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. One of brothers is a Marine and straight and narrow in his life and views, but I support him even though I don't agree with some of his views (my other brother is gay and my Marine brother is resigned but not 100 percent on board with that), and MAAF helps me to see that my Marine brother does not define my gay brother's or my life, and that we love him (our Marine brother) unconditionally anyway -- because regardless of his being a little pest, he's our baby brother and a truly wonderful person. MAAF has helped with this and has given me the incentive to review with a kinder heart and less of a knee-jerk reaction so many different life views and religions (I'm an atheist). I'll always be grateful to Justin Griffith for leading me in this direction.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I you think that it is difficult to hold an unpopular opinion in the general public, imagine what it is like in the military. MAAF makes it less challenging to hold your unpopular opinion.

3 Douglas11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

MAAF is an organization that helps military atheists with issues such as; organizing groups, dealing with military Chaplins, helping the local community, and educating military atheists about their rights. The organization has helped me meet great people and inspired me to proudly represent the atheist community in the military.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

I left my job as an IBM consultant making plenty of money and living the dream in NYC because I cared about foxhole atheists and knew that they needed help to achieve equality in the military. My own experience at West Point and in Iraq showed me a great need. I now run MAAF full time making significantly less in money and significantly more in personal fulfillment. I hope you'll tell your story here, donate, and join me in this fight. Those honorable atheists and humanists in the military will do their job either way, but they need and very much deserve a lot of help from their peers and from those of us on the outside.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

MAAF is helping Military Servicemembers to fight for their rights to NOT participate in Religion, Religious ceremonies, prayers, rites, etc., etc., etc. and still serve their country honorably and respectfully while protecting this country. MAAF supports the First Amendment.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

I volunteer with a non-profit summer camp for children from secular families, Camp Quest (CQ). While CQ has locations all over the country, my camp is located near many military bases. At least 30% of our campers and volunteers are or have been associated with the military. We have campers whose parents are deployed, who have lost parents or other loved ones in the military. We have volunteer counselors and leaders who have completed multiple tours.

Our programs teach science, philosophy, nature, teamwork, self-confidence, and more, and also help our campers become part of the larger freethought community. We highlight "famous freethinkers," including Pat Tillman. We have done service projects in collaboration with MAAF that involve sending notes and gifts to those serving overseas. Working with MAAF has always been a pleasure, they are quick to reply to email and bounce ideas around.

After camp, we provide resources for campers and families to continue to get involved in our community, including lobby day events, how to start a secular club, and what other area organizations to join. Many of our families have benefited from MAAF and we're happy to have helped them make that connection.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been in the US Army Reserves for 25 years (and counting). I'm an atheist and early in my career, I simply didn't pay too much attention to matters of religious discrimination, though in retrospect I can think of a couple of examples. Especially after 9/11, however, there seems to have been a renewed effort by the leadership to equate military virtue with religiosity (particularly Christinanity). I started to see (or perhaps notice) more and more cases of religious discrimination, intolerance of unorthodox views, and at times even overt disrespect. Then I found out about MAAF. This is an organization that REPRESENTS the atheist, humanist, freethinker community in the Armed Forces. I found them to be a wonderful resource and eventually became so involved in their cause that I became a Board Member. If you have been discriminated against by any member of the military because you are an atheist, please know that you are not alone. MAAF can help reach out to your leadership and in most cases remedy the situation. In the more obstinate cases, MAAF can provide you with resources to help you make things right.

3 Doug31

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As the national demographics shift from religious to non-religious and non-belief, so too do the military demographics. There is a growing but silent minority of Humanists and atheists present in America's Armed Forces, and their numbers continue to swell. Sadly, because of the stigma that surrounds atheists many are unwilling to openly profess their life stance for fear of being shunned (or discriminated against) by their fellow service members and superiors.

MAAF has made a remarkable effort to protect the rights of these service members and continues to make progress toward a goal for equal rights of ALL Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

More and more are starting to step forward, but there are many who would ignore, and even actively deny, their right to be acknowledged and supported. These men and women risk all for their country. Their country owes it to them to afford them the rights they have sworn or affirmed to defend with their lives.

Help us help them.

4 Brian_Engler

Board Member

Rating: 5

The large and growing number of service members who have no religious affiliation and no belief in a deity is seriously underserved by the existing corps of chaplains. Military chaplains, of course, derive from one or another spiritual denomination, but they are required to step beyond their own sectarian beliefs in order to serve all military personnel, regardless of those individuals’ beliefs, when called upon to counsel or comfort in times of need. Service members who have no denomination, however, at times are treated like pariahs or, worse, are overtly proselytized to become believers. These individuals may protest within their command, but their lone voices often go unheeded, so collective action is needed. Being a national organization with local chapters, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers provides a larger and more focused voice for all nontheists in military service that, increasingly, is being heard in the upper echelons of the Department of Defense and by higher civil authorities. More needs to be done. For example the commissioning of explicitly humanist chaplains is one initiative being pursued. MAAF is dedicated to building a welcoming community for what it calls the last unprotected minority. It needs your membership and financial support to accomplish its aims. Please join MAAF and explicitly support our nontheistic service men and women.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Jason was extremely supportive at a time that I was subjected to some very distressing incidents relating to my lack of religion. He was warm and caring and encouraged me on the appropriate measures to take and how to express myself. I probably wouldn't have taken the corrective action without his support and wouldn't have been able to see the matter get the attention it did.