In fact, atheists, agnostics, humanists and other assorted skeptics from the Army's Fort Bragg have formed an organization they hope will be a pioneering effort to ensure fair treatment and win recognition for nonbelievers in the overwhelmingly Christian U.S. military.
"We exist, we're here, we're normal," said Sgt. Justin Griffith, chief organizer of Military Atheists and Secular Humanists, or MASH. "We're also in foxholes. That's a big one, right there."
For now, the group meets regularly in homes and bars outside of Fort Bragg, one of the biggest military bases in the country. But it is going through the long bureaucratic process to win official recognition from the Army as a distinct "faith" group.
That would enable it to meet on base, advertise its gatherings and, members say, serve more effectively as a haven for like-minded soldiers.
"People look at you differently if you say you're an atheist in the Army," said Lt. Samantha Nicoll, a West Point graduate who in January attended her first meeting of MASH. "That's extremely taboo. I get a lot of questions if I let it slip in conversation."
The decision on recognition goes first to an Army agency called the Installation Management Command and may be reviewed after that by the Army Chaplain Corps. Neither agency returned calls for comment. MASH members said chaplains at Fort Bragg have been supportive of their effort.