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.
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!
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
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)
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.
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.
Their work is greatly needed and I appreciate their service.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.