Questionable Motives

August 2, 2013

Who is Rex Murphy to tell us why non believers do not deserve military chaplians who are atheist?

Filed under: abuse,anger,apologetics,Atheism,Military Chaplains,Rex Murphy — tildeb @ 11:04 am

religious confusionA success story for the power of religious indoctrination seemingly unable (certainly unwilling) to understand why religious privilege in the public domain is a problem in need of real and workable solutions.

I often listen to Canada’s Mother Ship on public radio (called the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and have enjoyed one of its popular shows called Cross Country Checkup, a weekly call-in program about current events. Its host, Rex Murphy, usually does a terrific job making every caller feel like he or she is contributing understanding to the topic under review. But I noticed that his thinking, which once upon a time usually analyzed and expressed complex issues very well, seemed to shut off in response to legitimate issues about the catholic church. When such issue arose, Rex then became first and foremost an across-the-board apologist for this deplorable criminal institution. I thought to myself just how insidious must be the indoctrination needed to shut down such an otherwise powerful brain. I had hoped it was a one-off area of blindness, all to familiar and so very similar to many such deeply indoctrinated people; they are simply unable to see the forest for the trees, the problems for the Church. They have never developed the neural capability.

So it was with sadness at the blindness of a powerful mind that I then I had the great misfortune to read one of the stupidest articles ever penned by Canada’s Great Curmudgeon and Pride of Newfoundland, Rex Murphy.

His article was a knee-jerk reaction with little cognitive assonance against the proposal for atheist chaplains to be allowed in the US military in order to offer services to non believers simlar to those offered religious believers. Rather than deal with the actual issues raised by looking at the accessible mission statement of the chaplain’s designated role in the US military (“The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps provides religious support to America’s Army while assisting commanders in ensuring the right of free exercise of religion for all Soldiers. In short, we nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the fallen“, which is perfectly in tune with a secular chaplain, let me be clear) ), Rex turned his article into a foul diatribe against what he calls ‘angry atheists’. Motivated by his misdirected anger at an ‘unmanly’ Hitchens, for exposing Mother Teresa as another religious hypocrite who promoted suffering while enjoying private planes and access to the rich and powerful and a beneficiary of their largesse, Murphy manages to smear and misrepresent not just Hitchens, not just Dawkins for good measure, which is standard operating procedure by angry religious apologists generally and christian apologists in particular, but all atheists everywhere. In his deep wisdom and erudite thinking, Murphy manages to miss the existence of the ongoing, widespread perception by the religious that atheists are of questionable character, somehow less trustworthy and probably immoral because of their non belief. Atheists experienced in this receiving this kind of discrimination from people far less educated and wise than Rex do tend to present themselves honestly as victims of this abuse and respond in various ways… like attempting to get people of no religious belief into positions once privileged for only the religious – like chaplains, for example – whose secular roles are described by ex-priest Eric MacDonald:

While it is true that, for the religious, chaplains provide the opportunity for service members to continue, during their military service, the practice of their religion, and have the comfort of their religious beliefs in the performance of duties that are often difficult and, at the sharp end, concern things which religions often concern themselves with: moral and spiritual reflection on things like being required to kill or to accept suffering and death in the performance of their duties, reflection on the suffering and death of comrades, and the reception of comfort, reassurance and counsel at moments of crisis in their lives, crisis which so often attends the performance of military duties. It is not only about church services, hymns, prayers or other forms of religious practice. Indeed, as a priest, religious ritual or belief often did not enter into the practice of ministry to those in times of crisis. To be a listening and sympathetic ear is often much more important than prayer or the sacraments.

Atheists are subject to unwarranted and ill treatment for their non belief all the time. Rex simply proves the point for us by adding his big-brained bowel movement of an article to this shit pile fertilizing not what’s true but noxious and toxic religious beliefs that blatantly discriminate against us. Imagine the audacity and ill manners of atheists to respond to this unfair and unwarranted attack of our characters with some anger. The nerve! Apparently, we just need to shut the fuck up and continue to privilege religion and the religious whether they are deserving or not. Then all will be fine and dandy according to Rex because, hey, that’s the way god’s creation should be run.

(One take-down of Rex’s slow motion fall from grace over the past several years comes from journalist Graham Templeton here, but highly negative responses come from all over, like here, here, here, and here.)


  1. The religious have serious problems understanding what motivates an atheist. If its not a threat of damnation, if its not the hope for reward, then what? Many theists, unfortunately, just can’t imagine doing good for goodness sake… because its right and promotes better societies. This really does highlight a frightening shallowness in their thinking.

    Comment by john zande — August 2, 2013 @ 11:16 am | Reply

    • Thanks for the comment, John.

      I wanted to try to show that even some very smart, very literate people simply fail to think well when it comes to promoting their religious security – not for a lack of good reasons but an impulse to use bad ones. They seem comfortable and confident vilifying others in its name without recognizing the trap they are stepping into. A handy way of checking one’s self is to replace the identifier – in this case atheist – with other identifiable groups of people one belongs to and see if the reasoning holds up. If Rex thought about replacing the term ‘angry atheists’ with, say, ‘angry Newfoundlanders, he would surely be absolutely mortified to have been such an intolerant and bigoted dolt acting contrary to very values he falsely attributes to holding religious beliefs! Incredible.

      Comment by tildeb — August 2, 2013 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

      • That’s a good trick to remember. We’re perhaps all guilty at some point in making silly generalisations, and this is a fine feedback system. That said, the club mentality held by many theists (particularly fundamentalists) urges them not to entertain any thought which might humanise non-believers.

        Comment by john zande — August 2, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

  2. Tildeb, i’ll write to you here rather than on Prayson’s blog. I’m following your conversations and I’m in awe of your skills in this matter. You’re going to be my “go-to man” whenever this subject surfaces. You’re astonishing!

    Did you pick up on what i asked Chancellor to read? “The Paradoxes of Darwinian Disorder” was a hoax performed by Dr. Maarten Boudry, a research fellow at Ghent University’s Department of Philosopy & Moral Sciences. He submitted that paper (which is utter nonsense) to two theology conferences and both actually accepted it. I did a post on it which i think will make you laugh:

    Comment by john zande — August 3, 2013 @ 12:54 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for the compliment, but the disinformation spread about evolution really pisses me off and I feel I must address the dishonesty whenever and wherever I encounter it. My motivation is to teach rather than correct because the theory is astonishingly beautiful and its insight eminently valuable. That some people really don’t grasp this remarkable – almost crowing – achievement in the pursuit of gaining knowledge about life itself, while so many seem to want to work tirelessly to try to discredit it for very poor reasons, I feel requires me to step up to the plate and deliver a much-needed correction.

      Funny you should mention the Prayson exchange; when reading your comment in which you introduced the title (The Paradoxes of Darwinian Disorder) I immediately thought of the Sokal hoax. Apparently, and much to my relief, I seem to still have two neurons to rub together! And you’re right: your post did make me laugh. Thanks for the link.

      Comment by tildeb — August 3, 2013 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

      • Pleasure. You have more patience than me when it comes to creationists. I find it honestly hard to give them the time of day. As the saying goes: in the age of information ignorance is a choice. It’s the one subject that crosses the line for me and i become a rabid anti-theist. I know that’s not productive, but i have a low threshold for willful ignorance.

        Comment by john zande — August 3, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

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