Earlier this year, I posted about the situation surrounding Jason Heap, an applicant to become a Navy chaplain who was rejected, allegedly because he is a humanist. His story raised questions about whether the role of chaplain is appropriate for a nonreligious person. Some argue the very idea is a contradiction in terms. For his part, Heap argues that he “adheres to these beliefs with the strength and sincerity of traditionally recognized religious views,” and points out that more than 3% of military personnel identify themselves as humanists.
Now, Heap has filed a lawsuit against Navy and Defense Department officials over his rejected application.
Stars and Stripes reports:
Heap applied to become a chaplain in July 2013 and learned this spring that the Navy had declined his application without explanation.
According to the lawsuit, Navy officials were eager to enroll a chaplain with Heap’s educational background, which includes degrees from Texas Christian University and Oxford University. But when they discovered he was seeking to enter the chaplaincy as a humanist who believes in living an ethical life based on nonreligious principles, his application went off track amid political protests, the suit alleges.
The piece also notes that many expect the newly-Republican Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass a defense bill that includes a ban on atheist chaplains. Stay tuned.