The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers say it is seeking an alternative to the services provided by Christian and other faith-based chaplains in VA hospitals and hospices. The group is campaigning for more secular humanist representatives for veterans – the equivalent of chaplains for non-believers.
THE CHRISTIAN POST
As part of the atheist group’s campaign, its president released a letter written by Vietnam veteran Phil Heycock before he succumbed to cancer during an extended stay at a VA hospice.
“Currently, religious, theistic oriented Chaplains are on staff and visit patients including secular humanist atheists like myself. While the Chaplains have been friendly, according to their Christian beliefs I will be burning in hell after my demise. While I respect their right to believe as they wish, I don’t find their perspective on death comforting,” wrote Heycock.
MAAF President Jason Torpy said that Heycock expressed that he received good quality care but felt that the Christian chaplains generally available were not comforting to him as a secular humanist. “He also requested the letter be held until after his death to avoid alienating his caregivers, whom he knew to be religious,” stated Torpy.
Chaplain (Col.) Ron Crews, executive director for the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, told The Christian Post on Monday that he feels that VA chaplains are doing their best to accommodate everyone and that the MAAF is using the letter in an effort to gain public support.