An Air Force chaplain’s essay that deals with universal faith was removed from his base’s Web site because it allegedly offended atheists, according to Fox News.

Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes told Fox News he penned “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II” for the Chaplain’s Corner column on the Web site of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.

But the Military Religious Freedom Foundation reportedly accused Reyes of an “anti-secular diatribe” and publicly disparaging “those without religion” in a letter to the base commander, allegedly on behalf of 42 anonymous airmen who complained.

No Atheists in Foxholes Essay by Air Force Chaplain Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes Reportedly Deleted from Web Site of His Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson Because It Offeneded Atheists

(Credit: JBER web site)

(As the essay appears to have been deleted from the site, it cannot be linked—but it can be read at the bottom of this post; but the base Web site did leave intact six critical comments about the essay, along with one complimentary comment.)

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“In the civilian world, such anti-secular diatribe is protected free speech,” wrote MRFF’s Blake Page in a letter to Col. Brian Duffy, the base commander. “Beyond his most obvious failure in upholding regulations through redundant use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members by telling them that regardless of their personally held philosophical beliefs they must have faith.”

The Air Force agreed and approximately five hours after the MRFF complained, they removed the chaplain’s essay.

“While certainly not intended to offend, the article has been removed from our website,” Col. Duffy wrote in an email to the MRFF. “We remain mindful of the governing instructions on this matter and will work to avoid recurrence.”

But that’s not good enough for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. They want the chaplain punished for what he wrote.

“Faith based hate, is hate all the same,” Page wrote. “Lt. Col. Reyes must be appropriately reprimanded.”

Duffy did not respond to an email requesting information on the specific Air Force policies that the chaplain’s essay violated.

In his essay, Reyes discussed the origins of the “no atheists in foxholes” maxim and ended it with a reflection on why everybody exercises faith on a daily basis.

Ron Crews, the executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, told Fox News that Reyes was within his rights to comment on matters of faith and criticized the head of the MRFF, Mikey Weinstein.

“Chaplains have religious liberty as well to speak to issues,” Crews said. “Mr. Weinstein appears to want to silence any speech of faith in the military. It is a sad day for the Air Force and for our country when officers obey every command from Weinstein to silence even chaplains from talking about their faith.”

Fox News obtained a copy of the essay that Reyes says was removed from the base’s Web site:

“Chaplain’s Corner: No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II”

By Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes

Many have heard the familiar phrase, “There is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole.”

Where did this come from?

Research I verified in an interview with former World War II prisoner of war Roy Bodine (my friend) indicates the phrase has been credited to Father William Cummings.

As the story goes, Father Cummings was a civilian missionary Catholic priest in the Philippines.

The phrase was coined during the Japanese attack at Corregidor.

During the siege, Cummings had noticed non-Catholics were attending his services.

Some he knew were not Catholic, some were not religious and some were even known atheists.

Life-and-death experiences prompt a reality check.

Even the strongest of beliefs can change, and, I may add, can go both ways – people can be drawn to or away from “faith.”

With the pending surrender of allied forces to the Japanese, Cummings uttered the famous phrase “There is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole.”

In one of my many discussions with Roy, he distinctly remembered a period on the “Hell Ships” – these were ships the Japanese used to bring POWs from the Philippines back to Japan.

They were unmarked and thus ‘fair game’ for attacks from the allies from the air and sea.

Of the 3,000-plus POWs listed on the ships, only 180 survived the journey.

“When our own planes were attacking us,” Roy said, “I remember Father Cummings calming us down by reciting the Lord’s Prayer and offering up prayers on our behalf.

For a brief moment I did not hear the yells and screams of dying men as our boat was attacked by our own men.”

He went on to say, “There was a peaceful quiet during the attack that I cannot explain nor have experienced since.”

Later on during the trip to Japan, Cummings, after giving his food to others who needed it more, succumbed to his own need and died of starvation.

Everyone expresses some form of faith every day, whether it is religious or secular.

Some express faith by believing when they get up in the morning they will arrive at work in one piece, thankful they have been given another opportunity to enjoy the majesty of the day; or express relief the doctor’s results were negative.

The real question is, “Is it important to have faith in ‘faith’ itself or is it more important to ask, ‘What is the object of my faith?’”

Roy never affirmed or expressed whether his faith was rooted in religion or not, but for a moment in time on the “Hell Ships,” he believed in Cummings’ faith.

What is the root or object of your faith?

Is it something you can count on in times of plenty or loss; peace or chaos; joy or sorrow; success or failure?

Is it something you can count on in times of plenty or loss; peace or chaos; joy or sorrow; success or failure?

What is ‘faith’ to you?

(H/T: Todd Starnes)