Pat Tillman was an American football player who quit his job to join the military and fight in Afghanistan. Tillman was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004, but the government covered up that fact for weeks.
Several remarks have been made about Pat Tillman and his family because of their non-belief.
- Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, who directed an official inquiry into Tillman's death, had this to say about the family's unhappiness with the investigation:
"When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don't know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough." (ESPN)
- Pat's mother, Mary Tillman responds: "Well, this guy makes disparaging remarks about the fact that we're not Christians, and the reason that we can't put Pat to rest is because we're not Christians," adding sarcastically, "Oh, it has nothing to do with the fact that this whole thing is shady, but it is because we are not Christians." (ESPN)
- In transcripts of an investigation into Tillman's death, a chaplain (unnamed?) who debriefed Tillman's unit described his last words as: (snapping) "Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God’s not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling ...” But this account seems to have been exaggerated to make the atheist look bad. Sgt. Bryan O’Neal, to whom Tillman was talking, called this characterization "upsetting":
"He never would have called me ‘sniveling.’ I don’t remember ever speaking to this chaplain, and I find this characterization of Pat really upsetting. He never once degraded me. He’s the only person I ever worked for who didn’t degrade anyone. He wasn’t that sort of person."