Beliefs Institutions

Will Thor join the Army? Believers still in limbo

US Army insignia and the Hammer of Thor. Photo courtesy of Karl E. H. Seigfried
US Army insignia and the Hammer of Thor. Photo courtesy of Karl E. H. Seigfried

U.S. Army insignia and the Hammer of Thor. Photo courtesy of Karl E. H. Seigfried

(RNS) Jeremiah McIntyre wants to be called a Heathen.

The 38-year-old Army sergeant follows the old Norse religion Asatru, in which the god Thor swings his hammer in the sky and Odin rules a heavenly place called Valhalla. Should McIntyre die, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would allow a hammer of Thor on his tombstone.

But the Army does not otherwise currently recognize the active-duty soldier’s faith. He can’t organize or attend Heathen services on base without special permission, he can’t receive prayer or counseling from a Heathen chaplain, and if he were to die in the service he would probably end up with a nondenominational Christian burial.

“It’s all well and good to be allowed to display my religion on my tombstone, but I’d like to be able to display it while I’m still alive,” he said.

Heathens have been seeking recognition as a religious group from the U.S. armed forces for at least six years. Only the Air Force recognizes Heathens, and that status was granted only last year. In January, an Army official told Heathen representatives they had been approved — only to backtrack a few days later.

Now, the group is redoubling its efforts for Army recognition with a petition and a letter-writing campaign. Some, like McIntyre, are reaching out to media to tell their stories.

“It’s just wrong,” McIntyre said of the fact that he cannot have a Heathen burial service. “I am sure you would not want some other religion praying over your body and asking that it go somewhere you don’t want to go.”

McIntyre is one of several Heathens — both military and civilian — pushing for Army recognition. The current move is spearheaded by Josh Heath. Heath served six years in the Army and is now in graduate school. He and other soldiers — who declined to be quoted in part because they are on active duty — are petitioning the Army to recognize Heathen and Asatru (which roughly means “belief in the gods”) as religious preferences in about 2009.

“If you have a (recognized) religious preference you can have a religious holiday,” Heath said. “At basic training, it would allow them to have a religious book — you are allowed only one. And if they had Heathen as a choice, they could have an actual Heathen ritual for their burial.”

Soldiers could also request permission to attend Heathen worship services, called “blóts,” and more easily find fellow Heathens to organize them. And, getting Heathenry and Asatru recognized would be the first step to getting their own Army chaplains.

 Josh Heath served six years in the Army and is now in graduate school. He put together a four-man team and began petitioning the Army to recognize Heathen and Asatru (which roughly means "belief in the gods") as religious preferences in about 2009. Photo courtesy of Josh Heath

Josh Heath served six years in the Army and is now in graduate school. He put together a four-man team and began petitioning the Army to recognize Heathen and Asatru (which roughly means “belief in the gods”) as religious preferences in about 2009. Photo courtesy of Josh Heath

“Without that, there is almost literally no way you can get a chaplain for your faith,” Heath said.

The men say they felt frustrated last year when the Army added humanism to its list of recognized religions — another long-term effort that involved the American Civil Liberties Union and other outside advocates. There is a push now to get the first humanist chaplain installed in the Army.

“That really riled me up,” Heath said. “The frustrating thing for me is we started this before the humanists were even on my radar. What spurred this most recent push to get Heathen added is that humanism got approved.”

That’s when Heath put together his team to submit the appropriate paperwork and push the request up the Army’s chain of command.

The efforts generally led to nothing until early this year, when Col. Bryan Walker, an Army chaplain and personnel director for the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains, informed Heath’s team that Asatru and Heathen had been approved. The group celebrated.

Then came word from the chaplain’s office that the announcement had been premature. Six months later, Heathen and Asatru are still not recognized.

“Army Heathens are now in a state of limbo,” wrote Karl E.H. Seigfried, a writer and lecturer who has followed the process closely on his blog, Norse Mythology. “Inquiries are being given stock responses from the Chaplains Office. In January, the only issue was waiting for the code to be entered. Now, the Army position is that the original request for addition of the religious preference has not been approved, but is ‘under active consideration.’”

Walker declined to be interviewed for this story, and the Office of the Chief of Chaplains declined to make another spokesman available.

No one knows how many Heathens serve in the armed forces — since they can’t identify as such it is hard to count them — but Heath estimates there may be as many as 5,000. If the number is even half that, it would mean there are more Heathens in uniform than there are Wiccans, a faith the Army recognized in 2001, according to 2014 numbers from the Department of Defense.

So at the moment, the Heathens are back at square one. But Heath said he is not about to quit fighting — even thought he left active duty in 2011 and the reserves in 2013.

“I don’t quit,” Heath said. “My goal was to get this added and then I could walk out of the military and know that other soldiers were cared for because of what I had done. I could be 20 years out of the Army and if this still needed to be fought, I’d be fighting it.”


About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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  • Thanks for showing yet another example of Christian privilege, paid for by our tax dollars. Can you imagine if I told, say, Baptists that their taxes were used to enforce a system where Baptist servicemembers would be prevented from fully practicing their religion when alive, and that their funerals would be dedicated to the worship of Allah, or Vishnu? Fair’s fair, right?

  • As Christians, we know that Jesus is Lord and the only Lord. To acknowledge other false gods is a sin, as noted in the 10 Commandments monuments that appear at some US goverment buildings.

    For the government to acknowledge other religions/gods is an infringement on our beliefs and violates our First Amendment rights. Part of practicing our religion is the idea that other religions are not valid.

  • Sorry Ronald but the US Army is not a “Christian Army” recognizing other religions right to exist does not infringe on any of your rights.

    That said I hope Asatru is recognised soon and a feast for Tyr shortly after.

  • I am a Heathen, a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. Our faith is one of the cornerstones of Western Culture, as our common law handed down from the Heathen Anglo Saxons, the organization of our town councils (Alderman), our toasting and ring tokens taken for the marriage ceremony, our Yule feast rebranded for Christmas, much of what we celebrate as Western Culture has always been Heathen at the root. Our values are those of service, we are our deeds. It is this that drives so many of us into the armed services, where our service is welcome, but our faith……oddly is not.

  • If you are serious (I expect you are not) you certainly aren’t American, by any measure more than the accident of your birthplace

    Anyone believing the USA was created to be a “Christian nation” any more than any other faith needs to read enough history to stop publicly embarrassing yourself.

  • Really, a religion that has been relegated to the Comic Book section of any magazine shop is seeking recognition? Really?
    We need a common sense board that can simply tell oddballs what is and what isn’t. The list of “religions” keeps growing, and we keep acknowledging them without question of the substance that makes them “religions”! THOR? REALLY ?

  • “We need a common sense board that can simply tell oddballs what is and what isn’t.”

    If only that was true, then oddballs who believe in nonsense like creationism, dominionism, and religious based discrimination could be excluded.

    But we don’t use such common sense.

    Instead we allow all comers.

    Religious freedom means nobody has to care what you think of the faiths of others. Your opinion about Thor worshipers has as much validity as mine towards fundamentalists. No bearing whatsoever as to whether they deserve to be legally recognized.

    Astaru is far older than Christianity and can claim in good faith that they are the victims of centuries of concerted efforts to wipe them out.

    JR, why do you hate religious freedom so much?

  • “Really, a religion that has been relegated to the Comic Book section of any magazine shop”

    Christianity will be there in a few more decades.

  • funny, that’s what the Baptists say about the Catholics, except that thre former refer to the latter as “the scarlet whore of Babylon.”

    “We need a common sense board that can simply tell oddballs what is and what isn’t.”

    That’s true Christians (TM) like you are for, to tell everyone else hwat’s wrong with them.

  • My guess is because despite all of the evidence he provides to the contrary, he thinks he is god.

  • But that’s the beauty of the Constitution, no? I get to worship Thor if I want to and you get to call me an idiot if you want to, but we are both protected. Equally.

  • This is not religious freedom, this is fraud…. a mockery of faith and rational thought. You, of course, will levy the same charge against Christianity, but it is an argument that has no merit. Christ is an historical figure that changed civilization and the finest minds in history have lent credence to its reasonableness. Hokey, ancient rites practiced by forest dwellers are nothing more than treasured folklore for some. And the US Army has to ponder this?………

  • That is my Catholic mission, yes. Whether people agree, I could care less. I do have an issue with blatant claims that anyone can cast its beliefs as a religion……and no one defies the sanity of it. Wicaans, Satanists, Scientology, and more are just loons.

  • No, its lasted two millennium so far. More likely your family will be the prototype for a new “Walking Dead” series. A pole through the brain is all that will shut them up. Can’t wait.

  • The only reason you only know of it being in comic books is because Christians tried to wipe out the heathens just as they do everything else, it’s a religion of homework, little by little were bringing it back. For you to say what you did only shows ignorance, name one heathen that has literally hurt you or your faith in any way, besides you’re religious freedom is fought for by me and my brothers so we can have as much freedom and recognition as you, so when I suit up for combat am I still a fraud?

  • No, there is a separation of church and state. You need to remember that. Until the communist scare in the 50s, there were no mentions of the Christian faith in any political way.

  • I served in the U.S. Navy reserves from 2003-2011. I am and was then,a Heathen. I served honorably,as a heathen soldier,yet my dog tags read ” other relig”.

    While my ship mates read bible passages on down time. I sang songs in my head of my gods and ancestors.

    When my ship mates were greeted by the chaplain,I received an eagle eye,and a stern look.

  • Unless things have changes, Congress establishes which religions will be recognized by the military. You should be petitioning Congress, not the Army.

  • Why not worship the sun on Sunday, the moon on Monday, Tyr on Tuesday, Woden on Wednesday, Thor on Thursday, Fria on Friday and Saturn on Saturday? Then we’ll have the whole week covered.

  • JR, you are a poster boy of a rude and hateful Christian. No wonder your group is in decline. Yeah, you’ve had some time for your cult to dig in but for most of those centuries past, open examination hasn’t been allowed.

  • Oh Perry, forgive me for stirring up your hate of Christians. Ask Thor to strike me down, or call on Zeus to curse me.
    Examination of pagan religions takes only minutes to dismiss, but you go on believing they have value.

  • Bob,

    Thank you for your comment. Since my organization and I have spent the last 6 years trying to make this addition, I believe we are familiar with whom we have to request this addition through.

    If you’d like to contact your Congresspeople on our behalf though, heathens would sincerely appreciate your support.

  • Really? A religion based on a broadway play (Jesus Christ Superstar)? Listen, religion has come into play in many books, cartoons, plays, and movies. Thor, Odin, and the rest of the Aesir were Gods long before Stan Lee was born. It’s a real faith that is much older than what YOU know about. If you’d get out of the comic book stores and read something with value, such as the Poetic Eddas, you’d realize that there is more to it than comic books. Just because a comic book was made doesn’t make Heathenry invalid. If it did, South Park showing Jesus as a frail weakling would make Christianity invalid. No one is asking you to believe, but to accept and tolerate that others don’t share your beliefs.

  • “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” – Religion. Not Chritstianity. By allowing us Heathens to display our faith this does not impede your rights in any way.

  • This is a religion older than Christianity. Please do not start insulting it before you have actually gathered your facts. Various religious figures have been used in pop culture – Thor is not the only one.

  • No, JR. Your comments are by far the more hateful ones, as inspection of your posts here shows plainly.

    I dismiss your religion as superstition in these few seconds. If you disagree, then present the modern testable evidence for your beliefs.There isn’t any.

    Also, as for the length of time that your superstition known as Christianity has existed, Zoroastrianism lasted much longer, and it’s almost gone now. However, Christianity stole most of its silly stories from Zoroastrianism and other superstitions that came before it. Your religion isn’t even honest.

    Now JR, try doing a post without hate and insults for a change. I dare you.

  • See above re your superstition, hateful JR. You represent your cult of hate and violent retribution well.

  • I’m not sure if you are being serious or just showing how ignorant some people really are.
    The first amendment may give you the right to free speech but it does not mandate that I listen to you. If you come to my door to tell me about your god I will be polite and ask if you want to hear about my beliefs. If you feel that my speaking about my beliefs violates your first amendment rights then you can remove yourself from my property. I will happily allow you to practice your religion, I will not allow you to dictate to me what I believe or what religion I practice, that is my right under the first amendment. Your rights do not cancel mine out.

  • So the age of a religion makes it valid? Hmmm. I wonder why Jesus never preached the faith of heathens then?
    Because it was a product of ignorance.

  • Okay, folks, the kindergarten teacher is back and she has “buried” JR’s comments and she’s looking for more to ditch. People, let’s try and write posts without the words “ignorant,” “loon” and “idiot.” Okay? Now, I have work to do today and would like to get on with it.

  • Part of practicing your faith includes stoning women who don’t marry as a virgin, stoning everyone who isn’t a Christian, marrying the woman you raped and paying reparations to the parents of the rape victim, owning slaves, not cutting your hair, eating shellfish or wearing mixed cotton blend clothing.

    From the sounds of it, you wouldn’t be a good soldier. Let alone cherry picking which beliefs for you to follow.

  • There are hundreds of paths up the mountain,
    all leading in the same direction,
    so it doesn’t matter which path you take.
    The only one wasting time is the one
    who runs around and around the mountain,
    telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.

    Hindu teaching

    So people stop running around wasting your time…go climb your own path and learn to smile along the way.

  • If your faith deems that you must preach your religion then by all means do so, but do it first through Love, Kindness and Respect. and if the message is received then good, if not then leave them the same way, with Love Kindness and Respect.

  • I can’t control myself, Perry, when people like yourself try to validate these nonsensical issues and then compare their value to Christianity. The proof, the empirical proof for Christianity you request is, as I always repeat, the four Gospels of the New Testament. Written between 62 and 90 AD, there has never been documentation from the same time that refutes what was recorded, and certainly the Jews and Romans would have benefitted greatly by doing this. They are as historically valueable as Homer, or Plato, or Josephus, or Pliny.
    You find me the proof of their worthlessness, the proof that these eyewitness accounts were fables, that some mad conspiracy was built around the life of Jesus, and that thousands died defending it. Try,Perry….please.

  • JR, again, you have made a hateful and sarcastic post. You exemplify your hateful religion well.

    Again, I dismiss your religion as simply superstition. What you presented was obviously not modern testable evidence for your beliefs and you know it. What you presented is ancient stuff. There is no modern evidence.

    Thanks for confirming that there isn’t any modern testable evidence for your beliefs. Your whole religion is a shameful, hateful scam, and its stories are largely merely stolen from earlier superstitions; it is not even an original scam.

  • Are you kidding me? We are not asking YOU to acknowledge anything. I am asking for a SECULAR government to grant me a right to worship under my own religion, Heathenism. (Which for the record far outdates your own faith.)

    The government, nor Army, are Christian based. That’s kinda why our forefather’s came over here, in case you forgot.

    Part of me practicing my religion is understanding that your Christian beliefs and principles are a hodge-podge of various faith’s the Church has conquered over the years.

    Take your “Christmas” tree, your easter, your practice of drinking in ritual, your concept of Hell (actually spelled Hel), and many many other views you practice… Take all of those, and give them back to the Pagan’s.

    You do not know of which you speak my friend. Yet I do not preach hate. Worship the God you wish to worship, and I wish you the best.

    Just don’t, in the name of your faith, cast down my own. For I do not do the same to yours.

  • JR, I question where your Christian faith is brought about validity due to a historical figure who changed civilization?

    Better yet, is Christianity not filled with “hokey, ancient rites” that are practiced by zealous believers?

    You bring about the charge of rational thought… I give you two viewpoints:

    “Live your life right, honor your gods, be honorable and trustworthy, self sufficient, and generous.”

    “Live your life how you please until you find it necessary to swear fealty to a historical figure. At that point you are saved, go to heaven, and find yourself given glorious things.”

    One of those belongs to Heathenism, the other Christianity.. can you pick which my friend?

    Why does the Christian faith feel a need to persecute and force their beliefs on others? Nothing about this is asking anything of a Christian. We are not asking to practice in a church, or have a christian minister perform our rites.

    We just want representation and equal respect in…

  • Hopefully, a born again Aztec will not demand Army recognition of his faith. Ripping out hearts during human sacrifice could become problematic for his bunkmates. But hey, he has the right, doesn’t he? It’s a bona fide religion…..only “asleep” for 600 years.

  • Thanks, Kim. Hopefully the other kids will give you hugs and kisses for punishing me. Now, you’re the cool, but immature, teacher. Congrats!

  • Under the RFRA as conservatives read it, heart ripping is perfectly OK. The government has to overcome your sincerely held beliefs that murdering people is bad.

    Of course when we have US soldiers “blood-eagle”ing fellow soldiers of Taliban members, then your analogy would work just fine.

    In your sarcasm, you missed the fact that Aztec religion IS being revived (minus the human sacrifice stuff)

  • I’m not surprised that Aztecs are regrouping. There seems to be a growing pattern of people returning to pagan religions, long tossed on the ash heap of history. Perhaps because there is no leader or structured dogma known today, people will be capable of breathing new life into these fables and make them real again.

  • Not so much “tossed on the ash heap” as much as “forcibly burned at the stake”. When the influences the faith of former colonial overlords is on the wane, people tend to develop an interest in their long suppressed history.

  • Ronald: As a retired Navy Chaplain, I can tell you that one religion’s acceptance does NOT affect you. As one poster said; we are not a Christian Military. As long as we are in uniform, we are a US military. Our colors are red,white, and blue. Our “religion”–as a military, is our oath of service. Because we are taken away from access to our normal religious practices on many occasions, Chaplains were brought in to provide help in allowing people to observe their faith

    That being said, every military member is equal. As a Chaplain, my job was to minister to whom I could, and find religious help for those I couldn’t. Thus as a Lutheran Chaplain, I was also called on to make sure I had a Catholic lay leader, and that the lay leader had what he needed for a six month deployment. I also provided for Jewish sailors’ needs. I was the only Chaplain aboard ship; I had to minister to many people with whom we might disagree, but my job it to help everyone, not just Lutherans.

  • JR: As a Christian minister reading your posts, I wonder why you are so angry? Jesus told us to love one another and love God. Everything we do must reflect that. Jesus also told us to turn the other cheek when people go after you. The Beatitudes are pretty difficult to follow, but they do not allow us to live life as bitter and angry people.

    In the US, Christians have SO MUCH privilege in our society. You believe that the heathens are damned or made up or whatever. That, in our society is your right. But how many souls do you win with these posts? You’ve got a least 4-5 posters (out of a pretty small group…) angry with you. No one will take your words to heart.

    As a Chaplain, I assisted many sailors whose beliefs don’t match mine (including LDS, by the way). That is my calling, assigned by the Church which sent me to the service. I had long talks with some of those sailors; did I convert any? Don’t really know. But I didn’t drive anyone away.

    Pr Chris

  • JR: Maybe they are, and maybe they are not. That is their problem. You’re sure not going to get them to listen to you. Like many people, esp. those of military age, they are asking questions of identity and issues of faith and belief. Some of those “loons” will find a traditional religious faith; others may remain there for life. For me, I can hope that Christ will save everyone. (cf. Pope Benedict XVI) I worry about my faith.

    BTW…during a 6 month deployment, my Catholic lay leader had no safe place to store consecrated hosts (Only officers have safes available to them.) I suggested to the Catholic Chaplain that since I had two safes in my room, (I had a two person person stateroom with no other officer assigned.) one be given to the lay leader for storage of hosts. He agreed; the lay leader would come to my stateroom to fetch them before worship, and return after. Exactly in conformity with canon law? Probably not, but it solved a problem for my lay leader…

  • Thought I’d mention that if you’re going by official figures you may have a pretty lowball idea of how many Wiccans and other sorts of Pagans actually *are* in the military: it’s still a bit dicey to be ‘out of the broom closet’ there despite the recognition. Also, Pagans can just be fussy about labels, even if they re glad to circle up with Wiccans, but not-entirely-scientific surveys say there’s an awful lot of Pagans in the military who don’t choose to have Wiccan listed on their dogtags. (I think there’s actually more than Muslims, even officially, though. Not sure on that, but you notice when they’re denying chaplains when smaller groups have more. 🙂

    I don’t know how the numbers *compare* with Heathens, mind you, not that it should really matter, but you make other Pagans sound like a rarity in the military.

    In any event, all my support to the Heathen soldiers and vets… I’d actually thought this was sorted out already.

  • Well, thanks for understanding a chaplain’s job, Chris.

    (And for the records it’s not Pagans or Heathens calling on any Gods to strike anyone down for being of a different faith… Or just different. It’s the right-wing Christians who do *that,* particularly on a daily basis, …especially now that some people they don’t like can have civil marriage.)

    Also, funny enough, Pagans and Heathens both are about ‘controlling ourselves’ in our sometimes-different ways, like JR there says he *can’t* at the idea someone else has different Gods.

    Or that there even *are* Americans not of his religion. Who just might have given a bit more thought, and dare I say, spiritual doings, about our own ways than did those who mock and declare us, and, well, everyone else, enemies.

    How bout *neighbors?* You know, people not you, living alongside like civilized people? 🙂 I’m guessing you kinda get that. Even if it’s just about ‘attracting more flies with honey…

  • It’s been fought for a lot more than 6 years my friends. I was fighting for it when I was in 40+ years ago & back then I couldn’t get it on my headstone even if I had died. I even was brought up to mast because I had my hammer under my shirt & it was discovered when I was taken unconscious & bleeding from the chest to the medic. I fought the mast successfully but still had the stigma attached as far as command was concerned. A couple of years later I left with an honorable with medical after getting wounded again but was never able to list my Asatruar beliefs even with the VA.

  • I think he is just jealous because Jeebus is too much of a softy to be portrayed as a super hero!!

  • Arrogant!!! Look at the facts mate… Heathens/Pagans are thousands of years older than Christianity, Christians murdered millions of pagans for not being Christian. They spread fear and chaos in order for people to convert.
    Christians murdered in the name of God and Jesus and created the devil to scare people into obeying rules… Once the world was taken over by your kind Christianity was smacked, forced and brainwashed into children who grew up and did the same to their children… This is why tolerance is impossible for you people!! Now it seems Islam is doing the same thing and it’s hilarious how YOU people act…complaining that the Pagan soldiers who fight on your side want the right to have OUR beliefs accepted and a proper burial for us, after dying for the typical Christian ideology that is war, money and dominance. While the Christians cry in fear… the Pagans will fight to the very end… you should be grateful to have us on your side! So show some fkn RESPECT!!

  • Well said!!! But it’s a concept these Christians will never understand… especially the fact that every custom and holiday was “borrowed” from older Pagan belief systems and cultures… These poor Pagan soldiers… giving their lives, just to be spoken ill of by keyboarders with nothing better to do than to cry… What are Christians so afraid of… is it because their numbers are consistently falling and Aetheism and Paganism is on the rise… maybe people are slowly waking up to themselves… Good job heathen Warriors… but if I was you… I’d let them die without your help… defend your family and your home AT home!! Where it’s actually appreciated!!

  • … nobody wants to see a scrawny guy in a nappy “forgiving” his enemies to death and then giving up on life and blaming his invisible Daddy for it!!

  • Good on you for tolerating the intolerable!!! I hope to meet you in Valhalla one day brother!!

  • Society is ridiculous, lol. The world would be better off if we had never advanced beyond grunts and hand gestures. Silly humans; arguing about things you can’t prove. Religion is only a business…faith is all that’s important and faith is personal. It means something different to everyone in the end.

  • As an asatru heathen in the army,this is an important issue for me through basic training i had to go to the wiccan services if i wanted ny kind of religious service, and as an asatru going to a wiccan church it was like a muslim going to a catholic church although the wiccan preastess was mote than accepting and often help cater to our needs it would be nice to go to an acrltual asatru church and be able to have religous books , i wish i could get in touch qith the movement to gey asatru recognized even if there is not much i can do as an e-1

  • Thank you for your service, Sir. I appreciate all Chaplains that adhere to their mission. We may disagree about religious particulars, but we can still serve our country with dignity and work together.

  • Actually, Kimberly, as much as I usually detest what JR writes, I think it is very important for it to be seen.

    As far as I am concerned, he does a great deal of useful work in exposing the completely unwarranted faith in a wholly imaginary superiority of so many people, who profess to be good Christians, but whose contempt for their fellow humans who disagree with them is palpable.

  • Firstly, it’s not a Christian army, knights templar are long dead.
    Secondly, show a little respect, this is the religion of your ancestors. If it wasn’t for those ‘sinners’ you wouldn’t be here. Besides, let a person choose who they want to worship, just like you are allowed

  • My Honorable Discharge was from the Navy in 1984. Odin showed up and told me to follow in late 1986 or early 1987. I spent a year pondering whether I should agree to his request. So I was not a practicing heathen until about 3 years after I mustered out. I would not have requested Asatru on my dog tags unless I had stayed in. Eventually I ordered a new set with Asatru on them. Out for 30 years and I still wear my replacement dog tags and original issue chain one day most weeks and whenever I travel.

    This former blue service veteran definitely supports current green service members to be able to where accurate dog tags.

  • No refusal to recognize a person’s religion is religious discrimination. Christians are to allowed to force their religious belief on others nor interfere with the practice of other religions. Under our Constitution, all religions, and non religions, must be treated equally. As that is not yet happened in the Army, that is open religious discrimination by Christians in the Army. The Army cannot support any religion over any other religion, that is against the Constitution of the United States. Stop playing the phony victim card, because that is a out and out lie which in turn is a sin in Christianity.

  • Lets see the Hindu religion is at least five thousand years old, perhaps as old as eight thousand years. So obviously by your standard we should all e Hindu, since it is far older than Christianity, and created one of the world first great civilizations. Buddhism is also older than Christianity and the Buddha was also a historical figure. Both of these religions are still practiced by millions of people.

  • I am a professional chaplain (or more precisely a spiritual care professional) who worked in the health care system in the province of Quebec, Canada.

    Here after 20 years of debate we solved the problem by adopting a very simple philosophy:

    1. We are professionals who work for the state and not a church.
    2. We are hired on the base of our academic and clinical training (master degree and lot’s of supervised clinical formation in religious science), not our belief or our disbelief.
    3. Like any other professionals, we are to be neutral in our approach, respectful of every beliefs and faiths.
    4. Our job is not to enforce a particular faith but to help people find they own meaning according to their own symbolic referents and beliefs.

  • 5. We are officially non-confessional, but open to the confessional/religious elements of the people we served. We are here to serve the spiritual and/or search of meaning, not to lead or proselytise.
    6. When we are called to perform particular rituals or ceremony of a designed faith it’s our duty to find a proper minister of that particular faith if we are not able to perform these rituals or if the faithful of that faith do not recognize us the authority to perform their rituals.
    7. We must act and intervene according to scientific validated approach, not faith or beliefs based one.

    It took us more than 20 years to reach that, even if some of member try to stick to a more religious based approach (essentially catholic priests whose numbers are dwelling fast).

  • Our approach has now been approved by all spiritual care professional in Canada, although, just like in the province of Quebec, some reluctant members’ sticks to their religious based approach and still fight to be called “chaplain”.

    I think the major problem with the army, just like jail, is that they still use a confessional system instead of a professional based one.

    I know it’s not perfect, but I strongly believe it’s the way of the future. Neutral religious professionals who know their limits and affinity (just like a psychologist who chooses a particular approach may it be cognitive, psychodynamic or humanist, he must respect his client affinity and refer him to another professional if he’s not the right one to intervene).

    Maybe it’s been easier for us to adopt this approach since the general population of Quebec are fed up with religion due to the abuse and immense power the Catholic Church had in our history?

    But are we not all living in a secular society?

  • JR, Comic books are a new thing. Based on the lore and cosmology of ancient and current modern practice. Northern practices and religion are not. Sometimes those comic books and movies are a great stepping stone to find truths that are beyond pop-culture. People find that which is missing in the common churchianity places.

  • Just because Marvel comics came in and made a comic book series, and a movie, about gods worshiped by our ancestors does not make it any less real… Lest we forget, the Egyptians had interesting gods as well; Horus, Isis and Osiris to say the least among the hundreds they had. And funny too, when Rome tried to conquer Egypt, how they remarked about the strange “animal gods” that Egypt worshiped, while failing to realize that while their gods took on a bit more of a human appearance, their gods seem strange to some christians now…

    Think about this, too… The religion you take part in is mainly considered by a few things: first off, the country you were born in has a LOT to do with where you will most likely end up. Secondly, your parents’ choice of religion usually dictates where you will STAY. Very few people break out of their religion’s “comfort zone” for a number of reasons, but think if you were born in a Hindu country, how strange christianity would seem to you…