Can the US Army embrace atheists?

In a land of faith and flag, Justin Griffith is challenging the US military to abandon its religious ties.

When Justin Griffith was a child growing up in Plano, Texas – a place he describes as the “oversized, goofy buckle on the Bible belt” – he would bring his bible to science class and debate his teachers on the finer points of evolution.

“In my head, I won every time,” says Mr Griffith, now 29.

But somewhere along the way, his penchant for picking ideological fights with the non-religious got him in trouble. He found it harder and harder to argue with the points they were making. At 13, he suffered a crisis of faith.

“It was so painful. I lost my religion before I lost my first girlfriend. Nothing that big had ever happened to me, and I didn’t have any coping skills,” he says.

Mr Griffith found peace with his atheism, but he is not done sparring with the opposite team.

As an active-duty sergeant in the US Army, he’s leading the charge to get atheists more respect in the armed forces. In the process he is earning attention, both positive and negative, from around the world.


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