Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff, a member of the Board of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs and former military chaplain, provides a very good example of this sort of casual bigotry. He writes about the relationship between ethics and war in the Christian Science Monitor:
War can numb our sense of good and feed the beast within. The problem isn't that we don't have good people in uniform. The problem is that war can turn even the best into different people. "There are no atheists in foxholes," goes the saying, but foxholes can breed atheists, when those who see war's nightmares lose all faith in dreams - and fight fire with fire and dog eat dog are the only values that survive.
None of the Abu Ghraib abuse reports I've seen mention chaplains, who normally serve with prison and intelligence units to help us all remember human values we share, regardless of faith. If leaders didn't make use of chaplains, that may be one more failure - of the leaders, or the chaplains. Using all the tools at their command, leaders must prepare their forces to withstand threats to judgment, ethics, and morale.
Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff is quite correct that foxholes can breed atheists, a fact ignored by most who quote that old myth, but Resnicoff can’t help but get in a dig against atheists by complaining that there is something fundamentally wrong with people questioning and rejecting belief in his god because of their experiences in war. Notice also how Resnicoff treats such doubters and atheists as though they "lose faith in dreams" as though believing in a god were the same thing as having dreams.
Rabbi Resnicoff is absolutely and completely wrong in suggesting that becoming an atheist is somehow associated with losing “faith in dreams” and with no greater values then “fight fire with fire” or “dog eat dog.” Resnicoff might not personally have enough respect for atheists to think that their values and dreams might be something like his, but I wonder why the Christian Science Monitor thought his bigotry fit to publish. I also wonder why the U.S. government ever employed as a chaplain someone who bigoted towards nonbelievers, a growing segment of the American population.
As for Abu Ghraib, I find it curious that Resnicoff thinks the presence of chaplains would have prevented anything at all. How much evidence is there of military chaplains doing anything to prevent atrocities, torture, and murder? How much evidence is there that those responsible not only for Abu Ghraib, but torture in American detention centers around the world are not devoutly religious and theistic? I’m not aware of any and if Resnicoff know of some, surely he would have included a brief mention of at least one incident or example.
When General Eisenhower visited Ordruf, a World War II concentration camp in Germany, he directed that atrocities be publicized for the sake of American soldiers. GIs don't always understand what they fight for, he said, so let them understand what they fight against. And, I would add, what they fight against becoming. ... Reasonable men and women must debate where to draw the lines. But setting limits is the beginning, not the end. Good leaders must train their forces to recognize, understand, and fight all the enemies they will face.
Here we have a subtle but nonetheless obvious attempt to connect atheism with the Holocaust. Earlier Resnicoff wrote about soldiers becoming atheists, here he writes about what soldiers must “fight against becoming.” Atheists and mass murderers... what’s the difference? Both, apparently, lack the gentle guidance of military chaplains and a belief in some God that Resnicoff happens to believe in. Maybe Rabbi Resnicoff has forgotten the fact that the belt buckles of German soldiers were inscribed with "Gott Mit Uns" (God is With Us) and that most Germans at the time were devout Christians.
Since when has anyone needed to believe in a god, much less Resnicoff‘s god, in order to be a good person? Resnicoff believes in a God and after reading his bigoted screed in which he slams atheists for absolutely no good reason (it doesn’t serve any apparent purpose in his piece), I’m not at all convinced that he is a good person. A rabbi scapegoating atheists is uncomfortably close to how Christians have historically scapegoated Jews, and Resnicoff happened to point out just what the Christian scapegoating of Jews in Europe ultimately led to.