There Are No Atheists In Foxholes

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Reverend William T. Cummings is famous for declaring There are no atheists in foxholes.[1]

Reverend William T. Cummings, who served at Bataan, is famous for declaring "There are no atheists in foxholes."[1] In addition, Lieutenant Colonel Warren J. Clear, who also served at Bataan, used the expression in an interview printed in U.S. newspapers in the middle of April.[1]

Chaplain F.W. Lawson of the 302d Machine Gun Battalion, who was wounded twice in wartime, declared "I doubt if there is such a thing as an atheist. At least there isn't in a front line trench."[1] Hannah More wrote: "In agony or danger, no nature is atheist. The mind that knows not what to fly to, flies to God."[2]

In recent years the organization Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers has taken up use of the slogan "Atheists in Foxholes" as a list of those men and women who serve the country while lacking a belief in a god.[3]

President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared in remarks broadcast from the White House as part of a February 7, 1954 American Legion Program:

As a former soldier, I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth-that there are no atheists in the foxholes. They know that in time of test and trial, we instinctively turn to God for new courage…Whatever our individual church, whatever our personal creed, our common faith in God is a common bond among us.[4]


Research study: Combat Intensity and Religious Behavior

In September of 2013, in the Journal of Religion and Health Brian Wansink and Craig S. Wansink published a study entitled Are There Atheists in Foxholes? Combat Intensity and Religious Behavior and the journal article abstract declares:


After battle, the moral and mortality stresses influence different soldiers in different ways. Using two large-scale surveys of World War II veterans, this research investigates the impact of combat on religiosity. Study 1 shows that as combat became more frightening, the percentage of soldiers who reported praying rose from 42 to 72 %. Study 2 shows that 50 years later, many soldiers still exhibited religious behavior, but it varied by their war experience. Soldiers who faced heavy combat (vs. no combat) attended church 21 % more often if they claimed their war experience was negative, but those who claimed their experience was positive attended 26 % less often. The more a combat veteran disliked the war, the more religious they were 50 years later. While implications for counselors, clergy, support groups, and health practitioners are outlined, saying there are no atheists in foxholes may be less of an argument against atheism than it is against foxholes."[5]

Atheism and death anxiety

On April 2, 2012, Science Daily reported that Death anxiety increases atheists' unconscious belief in God.[6] In a 2012 Psychology Today article, Dr. Nathan A. Heflick reported similar results in other studies.[7] For more information on death anxiety in atheists and other types of individuals based on brain research studies (including studies that examined the effects of stress), please see the article: Atheism and death anxiety

(Under stress, the brain's processing works in a way that prefers unconscious thinking.[8])

A United States study and a Taiwanese study indicated that the irreligious fear death more than the very religious (Please see the article: Atheism and death anxiety).

Relevance to atheistic/theistic thinking in foxholes

Due to research showing that death anxiety increases atheists' unconscious belief in God, Dr. Nathan Heflick declared in a Psychology Today article, "But, at a less conscious (or pre-conscious) level, this research suggests that there might be less atheism in foxholes than atheists in foxholes report."[9] For more information, please see: Atheism and death anxiety

Moral courage, emotional intelligence and troop/unit morale

In combat conditions, the bravery/cowardice of soldiers is partially dependent on moral courage, emotional resilience, and troop/unit morale/cohesion.

Please see:

Combat readiness, physical fitness, military drilling and death anxiety

In addition, combat readiness in military personnel is enhanced through vigorous physical training and military drilling. The more combat ability military personnel have, the less their anxiety.

Please see:

Soviet Union vs. Germany/Finland/United States


The Battle of Stalingrad, one of the harshest battles in history, amongst many other battles in the Eastern Front of WWII, was successfully defended by the Soviet Union's army against Nazi Germany aggression. The Soviet Union had state atheism. Although Soviet state atheism was largely unsuccessful in making converts as a whole, there were likely atheists who participated in the Battle of Stalingrad as state atheism had more success in urban regions than rural regions.[10]

The Soviet Union atheistic communists and Nazis both advocated evolution and neither were Bible believers (see: Social effects of the theory of evolution).[11]

Soviet Union vs. Finnish

The quality of the Soviet Union's army was poor in WWII and they were unable to conquer Finland even when they had a much larger numerical superiority of troops.[12][13]

Soviet Union vs. United States: The Cold War

The Soviet Union also lost the Cold War to the United States.

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3
  2. Hannah More quotes
  3. Atheists in Foxholes
  4. Dwight Eisenhower: There are No Atheists in Foxholes
  5. [1]
  6. Death anxiety increases atheists' unconscious belief in God, Science Daily], Date: April 2, 2012
  7. Atheists, Death and Belief in God The Effects of Death Reminders on Atheists' Supernatural Beliefs, Psychology Today, Published on May 25, 2012 by Nathan A. Heflick, Ph.D. in The Big Questions
  8. Atheists, Death and Belief in God The Effects of Death Reminders on Atheists' Supernatural Beliefs, Psychology Today, Published on May 25, 2012 by Nathan A. Heflick, Ph.D. in The Big Questions
  9. [ Forced Secularization in Soviet Russia: Why an Atheistic Monopoly Failed]
  10. Did Hitler rewrite the Bible?
  11. The Incredible Story of Finnish Sniper Simo Hayha
  12. A Brief History of Finland in WWII
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