Pat Tillman and humanists in foxholes

Time and again, I have served in close quarters with highly religious soldiers of different denominations, from Christian to Muslim to Wiccan, whose different religious persuasions were no obstacle to their ability to work together. The work of a democratic Army requires tolerance, and welcomes differences as a natural element of the society from which the Army comes.

What makes the addition of Humanism unique is that until now, there has never been a category that recognizes a secular belief system that exists outside of classic religious understanding. The unholy trinity of ‘Atheism, Agnosticism, and No Religious Preference’ doesn’t quite capture the belief system of someone, like Tillman, who was spiritual without the aid of spirits, and deeply ethical without relying on a divine foundation for his own beliefs.

While I’m not quite ready to let go of my hedged bet of ‘No Religious Preference,’ I’m glad to serve in an Army that is willing to grow and acknowledge the belief systems of those in the ranks who hold strong secular beliefs. I don’t know if Pat Tillman would have Humanist on his dog tags, but I think it’s safe to assume he would have appreciated the option.

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