One of the very first in-processing activities for all military personnel is to receive their ID tags. Young troops are asked, “What is your religious preference?” There are over 100 different specific, general, and administrative answers to that question, and military personnel enjoy the right to put their beliefs on their ID tags and official records. Humanists are denied even that basic right. They must choose “atheist” or “no religious preference” which are both terms that state what they don’t believe, not what they do believe. Adding an option would be neither administratively cumbersome nor intrusive on other beliefs, but that one additional option would add affirmation that all beliefs are accommodated equally.
The Army chaplains have, for over a year, blocked an open request for a humanist option. It would also allow for collection of proper demographics by accommodating humanists in the military as separate from “no religious preference” or “atheist.”
POLICY RECOMMENDATION: “Humanist” must be added to the list of religious preferences in all branches of service and the Defense Manpower Data Agency.