Skip to comments.Can Evangelical Chaplains Serve God and Country?—The Crisis Arrives
Posted on 09/17/2013 11:44:24 AM PDT by darrellmaurina
Can chaplains committed to historic biblical Christianity serve in the United States military? That question, though inconceivable to our nations founders, is now front and center. And the answer to that question will answer another, even more important question: Can religious liberty survive under Americas new moral order?
The repeal of the militarys Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy, coupled with the Supreme Courts ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, set the stage for this crisis. The full normalization of same-sex relationships within the U.S. military is part of the unprecedented moral revolution that is now reshaping American culture at virtually every level.
The crisis in the chaplaincy arrived with these developments. The presenting issue is clear: Can a chaplain committed to historic biblical Christianity remain in military service? Does the normalization of homosexuality require that all members of the military, including chaplains, join the moral revolution, even if doing so requires them to abandon their biblical convictions?
The answer, at least from the advocates of the moral revolution, is that evangelical Christian chaplains must goand Southern Baptist chaplains must go first. In recent weeks, the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the endorsing agency for SBC chaplains, formulated a set of policies on these issues. These policies are required of all SBC-endorsed chaplains, and the guidelines are clear. SBC chaplains are to minister in line with the biblical convictions of the SBC and its churches as made clear in our denominations confession of faith, The Baptist Faith & Message. Chaplains are to offer respect to all, respect for the religious liberty of all, and respect for the religious diversity represented within the armed forces. But evangelical chaplains cannot deny or compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the document states: Responsible pastoral care will seek to offer repentance and forgiveness, help and healing, and restoration through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christs sacrificial gift of love on the cross.
At the same time, SBC endorsed chaplainsthe largest single group of non-Catholic chaplainscannot violate their own convictions by conducting or attending a same-sex marriage ceremony, and they certainly cannot bless such a union. They cannot minister in any context that would give the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle or sexual wrongdoing.
In accordance with established U.S. military policy and law, all chaplains are free to minister in accordance with the teachings and beliefs of their own churches, even as they minister to all and respect the religious liberty of others. And yet, the great moral revolution of our times now threatens the continued service of chaplains committed to the moral teachings of historic Christianity.
That point was made abundantly clear in an article published on Monday, September 16, by Associated Baptist Press. The author of the article is Tom Carpenter, identified as co-chair of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy and an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Carpenter wastes no time in declaring his argument that Southern Baptist chaplains must immediately resign from military service. Given the guidelines set down by the Southern Baptist Conventions endorsing agency, the only honorable course is to resign from the military chaplaincy and return to civilian ministry.
The North American Mission Board has turned the Army motto on its head. They have forced their endorsed chaplains into the untenable position of either serving God or country. Given that choice, as men (NAMB forbids women to serve as ordained chaplains) of God the only honorable course of action for most will be to resign their commissions and return to civilian ministry.
Carpenter then asserts:
If these Southern Baptist chaplains were civilian pastors, there would be no problem. As civilians, they undisputedly have an absolute First Amendment right to believe, preach and counsel in accordance with their denominational tenets. But they are not civilians, and have a duty to not only God, but also country. It is instructive that they are not salaried by the NAMB but by the American taxpayer.
Yes, and they do not surrender their constitutional guarantee of religious liberty when they accept a commission as a military chaplain. Carpenters group was on the forefront of advocating for homosexual rights within the military, calling for Dont Ask, Dont Tell to be revoked and for the Defense of Marriage Act to be struck down. At the same time, his group assured the nation that this moral revolution would not lead to any major exodus of chaplains from the Armed Services. In fact, they accused evangelicals of crying wolf in warning of such a crisis. Now, Carpenter is openly calling for Southern Baptist chaplains to join the moral revolution or get out of the military.
Make no mistake, the moral revolution driven by those who demand the total normalization of homosexuality and same-sex relationships will not stop with the crisis over military chaplains. But at this moment, the chaplains are on the front lines of the great cultural and moral conflict of our times. This is a moment of crisis for the chaplains; but it is also a moment of crisis for the entire nation. If religious liberty is denied to evangelical Christian chaplains in the military, if they must surrender their convictions or their commissions, then religious liberty is lost in America, and the chaplains will be but the first casualties of this loss. Southern Baptist chaplains have been singled out in this call for mass resignation, but they will not be alone. Thousands of Roman Catholic chaplains are committed by their church to the same moral convictions. Chaplains representing other evangelical churches and denominations will find themselves facing the same moment of decision. Muslim and Jewish chaplains who cannot endorse homosexuality and same-sex marriage will face the same challenge.
In reality, it is the entire nation that now faces this crisis. Is America ready to demand that military chaplains choose between serving God and serving their country? We will soon know the answer to that question. We will also know the answer to another, even more urgent question: Where will every Christian church stand on this matter? The great theological divide between those churches and denominations committed to biblical Christianity and those who are given over to the spirit of the age has never been more clear. Indeed, the divide grows clearer day by day.
Also clear is this: Southern Baptist chaplains cannot surrender their commitment to Christ in order to maintain their commitment to ministry within the Armed Services. Furthermore, Southern Baptists will take their instruction from their own churches, not from those churches and denominations who are wearing out their knees bowing to Baal.
I keep emailing to get on the GRPL list. So far it has been to no avail.
Be assured that the end-game is demonic control over everyone, particularly those who are called by Christ. We are now only getting hints about this, but our children will be taken from us in name of protecting them from the "mental illness" of "homophobia" of the parents. Not joking here. At least one NJ legislator expressed this goal clearly within the last month when Christie signed the bill to ban therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction.
Request that this be pinged to your own military, Christian, or culture war lists. This effort to force chaplains opposed to homosexual marriage out of the military must be fought.
We’re no longer dealing with issues of tolerating homosexuals or “don’t ask, don’t tell” questions. We’re dealing with a threat to force evangelical Protestants and traditional Roman Catholics — at least those who believe what their church teaches — out of the military chaplaincy.
Many of us on the conservative side of the fence knew this was coming sooner or later, but I hope the leftists have overplayed their hand by calling for action before they have enough control to win this fight.
Jim, I know you’re hugely busy, but I think this warrants attention far beyond the “social conservative” segment of Free Republic. Please consider pinging this to whoever you think will read it and use it.
You know better than I do how best to use Free Republic to get the word out to military personnel and their civilian supporters so this attack on chaplains can get stopped.
3 posted on 9/17/2013 1:49:21 PM by .45 Long Colt: “I keep emailing to get on the GRPL list. So far it has been to no avail.”
Colt, I have no idea what is happening. The keeper of the Great Reformed Ping List is nobdysfool, at this profile page:
Gamecock is probably the most active member of the GRPL.
I’m pinging both Gamecock and Nobdysfool. Do either of you know what is happening with Colt’s request?
Thank you, Jim!
I hope I didn’t sound irritated. I’m not upset at anyone about it. Just would like to be included.
Mohler, as usual, is terminally naive about the plausibility of attaining even this goal. You cannot "respect" sodomy in any shape, form or fashion, only forcefully repudiate it. What sodomite is going to let such a biblical chaplain get away with this?
The military chaplaincy has always been a lowest-common-demonimator exercise in sickening ecumenism anyway, with the various faiths represented in a unit requiring that chaplains deliver a mish-mashed, watered down pablum of all "Christian" beliefs combined into a non-judgmental, collect-all theology. Are they really going to tell atheist service members on their way to a battle front the truth about their eternal destiny if they do not believe on the Only Way?
It was once accepted that there were differences of belief within Christianity, and that was workable as long as everyone was considered a Christian, or at least had a proper, cultural respect for it. That era is now gone, and these pastors and their defenders are naive to think that they can still fight for what used to be in the new milieu of cultural depravity and foundationless values.
The only solution is to get out. Get out so that you don't soil yourself with the feces that are now neck deep.
Another effort to force God out of our military and society to rush in the immoral behaviors of the godless Left.
I tend to agree with you, fwdude. I respect Dr. Mohler and have learned from him, but all too often he (and his sidekick and fellow Manhattan Declaration signee, Dr. Russell Moore) attempt to walk a politically correct tightrope that should never be walked by God’s people. The Scriptures don’t stutter when they call for separation from unfruitful works of darkness. What else need be said?
The military needs as many true American patriots as possible. Imagine the military staffed solely with demented marxists who place Obama on a divine pedestal. I get how hard it is to be a true defender of American liberties in the military today but this is a situation where we have to consider what the alternatives are. I just don’t see how now is the time to say noone should join the military because doing so is not patriotic anymore.
I respect Mohler as well. But he operates as if he is in a different era - a lot of us do. The same rules do not apply, we are not in a Christianity-friendly environment any longer. And the godless Left will have none of us.
“Can a chaplain committed to historic biblical Christianity remain in military service?”
Its not a question of IF a chaplian can honestly serve in the military - its fast becoming a questions if even a CHRISTIAN can serve.
As long as the Rat party is in charge this ‘transformation’ will continue. The goal is to remake the armed forces a place where straight socially conservative traditional males will not want to be. The goal is a ,military full of pc opportunists, feminazi females and lots of angry morally bent men. The black part of the Army (the service I saw most of) are certainly heavily influenced by Rev. Wright type officers and ‘racial identity’ attitudes. The homos who will be attracted will be the same sort who form wolf packs in prisons to terrorize others and enjoy sodomy unchallenged. This will be a military from hell that is full of people itching to attack normal middle class Americans, especially normal white middle class Americans. The left does want us disarmed, immobilized and terrorized.
And to a greater or lesser extent they are succeeding. Several years ago our family spoke with the vocations director with the military archdiocese. My oldest son, who has discerned a vocation to the priesthood, wanted to work in military chaplaincy. He even checked out the Air Force program in which the candidate would attend the Air Force academy then go on to seminary and then serve as a chaplain with the Air Force.
Unfortunately, early on in the Obama admin, it was becoming crystal clear that orthodox Christians, be they Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, would not be permitted to preach and defend their Faith openly under this administration.
So my son is pursuing his vocation elsewhere.
(I no longer maintain a Catholic ping list. Hopefully narses will ping this out.)
Of course, military chaplains should be maintaining a Biblical position on all issues, even and especially if it results in dismissal, arrest, etc.
If it does, they will be jailed or persecuted for being true to the Gospel, which, of course, is a blessing.
2 Corinthians 6
“1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.
12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.
13 Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
Nothing happens in Reformed circles without a committee!
Can chaplains committed to historic biblical Christianity serve in the United States military?
Well they have for decades. But in the new queer military of President seeks they will be driven out.
Thank you, Jim, for the ping. I certainly don’t speak for all chaplains, but, as a retired Army chaplain, I do have a career as a military chaplain to reference.
First, it might seem to civilians that this is a new issue. It really isn’t. It is the same issue as “praying in Jesus’ name.” The issue: “Shall chaplains adhering to biblical Christianity follow the dictates of their faith group or of the state?”
Some might not see this as the same issue. They will tell us that neutrality is easily attainable by saying “Dear Lord” instead of “In Jesus’ name”, and that God knows we actually mean “Jesus” by “Dear Lord.”
Could we not use a similar intellectual dodge with gay marriage? Could we not say, “By the laws of the state we declare you married?” instead of saying “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I now declare that you are husband and wife?” Wouldn’t God in that case also be able to sort through our mumbo-jumbo sophistry to the heart of what we really believed? Wouldnt that, too, be neutral?
Here is the point: forced neutrality is always a violation of free exercise of religion. In fact, forced neutrality is an establishment of religion. It has its own tenets, its own liturgy, and its own doctrine. And it is enforced by the state every time a biblical chaplain is coerced by command influence or technical chain influence into saying “In God’s Name” instead of “In Jesus’ Name.” After all, one’s efficiency reports are being threatened, and even an average efficiency report amounts ultimately to a pink slip from your raters.
Next, does anyone really believe the Founders thought the public square should have neutrality police ensuring that Catholics didn’t hand out literature about Mary, and that Baptists didn’t hand out literature about immersion baptism? Do we believe that the Founders instructed these neutrality police in the public square to change their message to: “Oh thou Genderless One to whom we appeal!” or “You must have neutral rituals of your choice performed!” (Does anyone really think that was the cry of Gabriel or of John the Baptist?)
The Founders did not advocate for a state neutral religion, instead they advocated “free exercise of religion.” Note first that this does not say “free exercise of worship.” Worship suggests only the ritualistic side of religion that is generally considered to be held inside “houses of worship.”
Note second, that “religion” is all encompassing of the tenets of a particular faith group. This says the Founders thought it was far better to just live and let live, than to try to police every aspect of religious life. In other words, an American was expected to be an adult about religion. An adult knows that different religions have different requirements, and an adult knows he should expect to have religion intersect his pathway every now and then. His response? Keep walking or stop and converse. Above all, it’s a question of which is better: free thinking on these things or governmental religious police?
This gets us back to the military chaplains.
Apparently, someone is suggesting the military should have governmental religious police. Presbyterian Tom Carpenter thinks so. He even thinks the governmental religious police should conduct a pogrom of those who don’t follow some “US Neutral Religion” that he has elevated in his mind to a place of authority. Is this kind of idea a state religion, an establishment of religion?
Of course it is. It is even obvious that it is.
Enforced neutrality is not free expression. In fact, it is an establishment of religion. The Founders, on the other hand believed in live and let live, in being adults in an adult world, not in children triangulating in coalition with a greater parent against other siblings in order to enforce ones own views on everyone else.
They believed that assembled groups or lone individuals could hear an “Amen”, a “Praise Jesus”, a “Hail Mary”, a “Shalom”, or even a “Hare Krishna” and put it in the context of an adult world.
I think they were right.
What an excellent piece of writing. Thank you! I will use this in the future when I express my opinion on this issue.
Being a military chaplain right now has to be a difficult thing.
But the men and women in the military need their chaplains.
Medal of Honor for US Army chaplain Father Kapaun
Army chaplain to get Medal of Honor posthumously (Fr Kapaun)
Chaplain Fr. Emil Kapaun: The Good Thief
Chaplain gets Medal of Honor 62 years after death (Outstanding story)
New: "The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero"
Students Try to Banish Catholic Chaplain >From Campus for Anti-Gay Stance
Archbishop Broglio Delivers Homily of Thanksgiving for Service and Dedication of Pope Benedict XVI
Father Emil Kapaun to be Awarded Medal of Honor
New auxiliary bishop for military archdiocese, Bishop-designate Robert J. Coyle
February 3rd - Four Chaplain's Day
We Have to Go Where The Suffering and Dying Are [Military Chaplains]
We See the Lord in Combat - Remembering Servant of God Father Vincent Capodanno
Lawmakers Claim Air Force Culture Becoming 'Hostile Towards Religion'
Get in Line or Resign Admiral Tells Military Chaplain
A Halo and a Medal for Emil Kapaun?
Prison Mates Promote Cause of Heroic Korean War Priest
Recognition Finally for a Warrior Priest's Heroics
ACTION ITEM ALERT! Pres. Obama, through a minion, attacks Catholic chaplains once again
Airborne Forces Priests Will Make Parachute Jumps During Their Training [Russia]
Religious Speech in the Military: Freedoms and Limitations
Soldier, Chaplain, Shepherd (Auxiliary Bishop Rick Spencer of the U.S. Archdiocese for Military)
Catholics Seek to Boost Number of Priests Serving as Chaplains
Catholic Chaplain Finds UK Troops in Afghanistan Hungering For Religion
U.S. troops in Afghanistan
Cross removed at base in Afghanistan
Mass During Wartime
The Traditional Latin Mass -- in Afghanistan
Uncle Sam attracts more (Catholic) military chaplains
Evangelical Chaplains Refuse to Marry Gay Couples on Military Bases
Over 2,000 Evangelical, Orthodox Chaplains Join Catholics in Opposing Pentagon on Same-Sex Marriage
2,000 Evangelical, Orthodox Chaplains Join Catholics in Opposing Pentagon Directive on SSM
No Same-Sex Weddings at West Point's Catholic Chapel, Says Military Archdiocese
Conflict between Pentagon and Catholic military chaplains brews over dont ask, dont tell
The (Catholic) Church's Noblest at Ground Zero
More men asking about becoming military chaplains
Catholic Caucus: Fr. Emil Kapaun: The Good Thief
Catholic Military Chaplains: America's Forgotten Heroes (Ecumenical)
Fr. Emil Kapaun Beatification Cause Heads to Rome [US Army Chaplain]
Two US Soldier Priests
Chaplain Groups Ask Military to Create Religious Liberty Protections
Australian Padre helps deployed soldiers tackle life challenges (Former SAS soldier turns chaplain)
Army says chaplain is first killed in action since 1970
Army Chaplain Dies in Afghanastan
With God in Iraq: A Day in the Life of a Military Chaplain
Soldier's Death Led Catholic Priest to Become Chaplain
Mass at National Shrine to honor Servant of God and heroic Navy chaplain
Prison chaplain remembers ("Behind the Walls with the Man Behind the Stole")
"Thanks God... and Thanks Mom" (Senate chaplain recalls his mom's amazing last day on earth)
Priest a wartime legend (Most decorated chaplain in Canadian army history dies at 106)
Catholic Navy chaplain shares story of Iraqi conversion (from 12/04/07)
see post #23
Thank you for your kind words, CC. Please pray for all faithful chaplains in all branches of the military.
And echoed by the Archbishop of the Military and several other chaplains that I heard speak at a Serra Club Conference.....note Serra....Father Junipero Serra...a few years ago.
I think the PCUSA would like nothing better than for these fundamentalist Baptist chaplains to resign. This would open up the floodgates to the PCUSA perverted ways. The best thing in my opinion would be to stick around and, lovingly, stand by your convictions. But it’s hard to make a blanket statement. Everyone must do what they believe to be right in the eyes of the Lord, as long as they’re not compromising the position.
Some were bold like Elijah confronting Ahab.
Some served as the Lord’s spy in Ahab’s service.
Some hid in caves to escape Ahab.
They all were called by God and was doing exactly what God wanted them to do.
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.
This obviously applies to faithful Catholic chaplains as well as Evangelical chaplains.
As a Catholic, it is important to me to be able to get to Mass on Sundays. I had no problem with that during my time in the military in a variety of U.S. bases. Either we had a Catholic priest to say Mass on base, or we could drive to a Catholic church somewhere nearby.
But it is entirely another matter if you are stationed abroad, in a place of violence, or a Muslim country, or a war zone. You need a chaplain to say Mass and to hear confessions. If you are liable to get killed any time, you need these things badly. And if you get wounded or are dying, you certainly want a priest around as much as you want a medic.
I would assume much the same for Evangelicals, or for any traditionally minded Christians. Having a chaplain is a necessity in a war zone, if it is at all possible.
So, it’s all very well to suggest that faithful chaplains will have to get out of this new model army. But the cost would be devastating.
The United States government has absolutely no right to hire chaplains from any denomination or religion for the military or any other area of our government. If a believer joins the military and is blessed to witness or minister to other believers, they cannot be stopped. However, tax dollars should never be used to establish, support, or promote any religion or religious activity.
As for the prohibitions regarding prayer, no man can prohibit true prayer at any time, as it is the Spirit that makes intercessions with groanings that cannot be uttered!
.45 Long Colt: Do you affirm monergistic regeneration?
I agree with James Madison on this issue. See “Detached Memoranda”
“Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?
In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation.
The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority] shut the door of worship agst the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority. To say nothing of other sects, this is the case with that of Roman Catholics & Quakers who have always had members in one or both of the Legislative branches. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers. or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor.”
Is this not also true of the military chaplaincy?
With all my heart
First, James Madison, writing in his later years, was writing about the chaplains serving congress. He was not writing about military chaplains. (The courts decided those chaplains were part of a long, cultural tradition.)
Second, this article is about military chaplains and not about the chaplains in congress.
Does it make a difference? The answer is yes.
Military chaplains accompany our sons and daughters in the military to our war zones.
First, as a commander you must provide for the needs of your troops. You must find bullets, food, protection from the elements, and a path to victory. You must also deal with their fears, their customs, their medical needs, and their death needs.
Like it or not, your troops WILL have their religion. Despite the numbskull commander in Alaska who got his shorts in a wad when his chaplain quoted the maxim about "no atheists in foxholes", that saying is a reflection of reality. When death is on the line, the vast majority of your troops are going to ponder the meaning of death, the afterlife, and the meaning of life.
They will practice their religion. They will. One way or another they will. Either a "chaplain" will rise, like a shamen, with no input from the command, from the ranks or from civilian camp followers, or those troops will have a chaplain provided by a nation that cares about providing chaplains who will be knowledgeable of and work with the command structure in the best interests of those troops.
Look through history. People in war become very religious. Why? Death is on the line.
And they will practice their religion. As Americans, they cannot be deprived of their right to free exercise of their religion. However, it is far more than some rule on a piece of paper. It is about their very nature as living beings. As much as ammo and food, they NEED their religion to prepare their souls for whatever comes.
The courts have acknowledged that chaplains are the most reasonable way to provide for that need.
It is unrealistic not to acknowledge the difference between military chaplains and civilian chaplains.
I respect that we have a difference of opinion, and I won’t take time to delve into what exactly prepares a soul for “whatever comes”. The issue is the use of tax dollars for religious hirelings. It’s irrelevant if the chaplains are for the military or for Congress.
The government has no business funding religion.
Hardshell, you may not be aware that your position is to the left of even the ACLU, which takes the position that under combat conditions, the only realistic way to assure people's right to freedom of religion is to have trained military chaplains.
This is a particular problem for religious groups such as the Roman Catholic Church due to their view of the sacraments. In theory, many though not all of the functions of a evangelical Protestant chaplaincy could be performed by laymen trained and organized by groups such as the Navigators. (And no, I'm not in any way, shape or form disparaging the role of office and ordination, or the role of baptism and communion in Protestantism; my point is that certain things which are very important to most evangelical denominations are absolutely essential to Roman Catholics.)
When even the ACLU supports the military chaplaincy, it shows just how radical our liberals have become in undermining it.
Once it is granted that ordained clergy simply must be present to ensure servicemembers’ religious freedom, the question becomes who should pay for their salaries and their training.
Part of why the ACLU believes military chaplains should have their salaries and their training paid by the government is that common sense and the sad experiences of long-ago wars show that it is both foolish and dangerous to send untrained civilian pastors into combat conditions.
That's a good way to get pastors killed, and also to get servicemembers killed trying to save the lives of untrained civilian pastors who make foolish mistakes which even the most junior of enlisted servicemembers who have completed basic training and AIT would know not to make.
It is true that civilian pastors have at various times in American military history been attached to the military in unofficial roles paid by someone other than the government. During World War I, for example, Dr. J. Gresham Machen took a leave of absence from his role as a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary to become a “YMCA secretary,” doing what was more or less the work of a behind-the-lines chaplain. It is also true that during major military mobilizations such as the Civil War and World War I, there have been times when the training given to chaplains was very weak at best, and chaplains often had to rely on their own combat experiences years earlier when wearing the uniform before being ordained, or had to learn things the hard way from frustrated sergeants. However, the modern military has greatly improved the military aspect of chaplaincy training, and there are reasons for that.
I'm focusing here exclusively on the constitutional question of why, in this very narrow case, even one of the most liberal organizations in the United States supports government-paid clergy. There are also numerous other religiously neutral roles which have developed over the years which are performed by the chaplaincy — counseling is probably the single biggest example of that.
To remove government-paid and government-trained chaplains from the military would have devastating consequences for Roman Catholic servicemembers. It would also cause problems for evangelical Protestants, and as a practical matter, would force the military to hire large numbers of psychologists and counselors to do the work now done by chaplains, many of whom would find themselves to be much less effective than chaplains.
I am painfully aware that what this PCUSA elder wants to do to the chaplaincy is already being done unofficially by too many senior chaplains at the O-5 and O-6 levels. Just as denominational bureaucrats tend to be those pastors with the greatest administrative and “political” abilities — often a synonym for knowing how to compromise and avoid offense — too many upper-level chaplains have gotten to their ranks by focusing on the counseling aspect of their chaplaincy role rather than teaching and preaching what they are supposed to believe.
But to eliminate the chaplaincy entirely, or to make it impossible for an evangelical or Roman Catholic chaplain to serve in the chaplaincy without compromise on homosexuality, would take a pre-existing problem and make it tremendously worse.
The troops have the right to free exercise of their RELIGION. Therefore, when they are taken to a far-flung land to lay their lives down, they MUST be provided with ALL that their RELIGION entails in order to protect that right. Their religion is FAR MORE than their worship, which is only a small portion of their RELIGION.
So, you have two constitutional requirements in conflict: free exercise and establishment of religion.
The reality is, though, that the chaplaincy is not an attempt to establish a state religion. Why? First, it provides for all forms of religion LIKELY to appear in the ranks of our troops, not just for Catholics, Baptists, or Methodists. The chaplaincy includes Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and even Buddhist chaplains. Oddly enough, I understand the atheists are trying to organize themselves as a religion, so they, too, can qualify for a chaplain.
So, this is NOT an establishment; it is an accommodation.
So, you have a CONSTITUTIONAL requirement to protect free exercise, you have taken them where there is no means to practice their religion, you have asked them to die, and you have said, “Though Sh_t” about their needs.
When a shamen appears in the ranks and tells them “The Horned One has appeared and decreed fighting in this war will send your soul immediately to Hell.”, and some listen, then you have injured your war effort by not accommodating their religion and not providing that as well as their bullets.
You nailed it, xzins. Excellent.
I don't know how to work it out, because I, too, can see he perilous disadvantage in the gvt. directly paying salaries for chaplains. In times past, it was not such a salient problem. But now it's a big one, because the chaplain has to represent Christ's Church: not Holy Mother the State.
Thanks for the ping!