Military Chaplains for Christ or Country?

Really?  Who Supports Those Troops?

As my readers well know, I have no tolerance for Preachers who call themselves Chaplains.

A battlefield is not a missionfield, and troops stationed anywhere in the world should not be a captive audience for Missionaries who think of themselves as Chaplains.

Choose one.  You can’t be both and be good (or appropriately professional) at it.

Like prisons, the armed forces have a big problem with Good Representation when it comes to Chaplains.

We all pay for them, so we ought to know what we’re getting, and what troops are getting, for our non-sectarian dollars paying Chaplain salaries.

“House Legislation would rule out Atheist Chaplains” (Military Times)

The article begins with:

“A conservative lawmaker is once again looking at ways to blunt any effort to let atheist chaplains join the military, calling it an attack on all religions.

But it’s unclear whether his latest legislative effort would affect the most recent movement to get a nonreligious chaplain in the ranks.”

The article ends with:

“According to military data, only about 11,000 active-duty troops identify as atheist. But the military’s religious preference forms do not include “humanist” or other variations. About 277,000 troops state no religious preference.

More than 1 million troops are Christian. Less than 2 percent of the nearly 3,000 military chaplains are affiliated with non-Christian religions.”

Here is my comment:

“As someone who served as an Interfaith Chaplain for many years and now a Secular Chaplain, I think some still get confused about the role of a good Chaplain. A Chaplain is NOT a preacher or evangelist but a “presence of compassion,” a counselor, a collaborator with people of various faiths and no faith. In other words, a professional who is present with people in crisis to help, not convert. This is why a Chaplain can be theist or non-theist, believer or nonbeliever. If the standard is believing in one particular god, then we could never have Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, Humanist or Atheist Chaplains. As the article explains, there are large numbers of non-Christians (and non-religious) in the military. In the service of our secular nation, our servicemembers and our taxpayers deserve more inclusive Chaplains.”


2 thoughts on “Military Chaplains for Christ or Country?

  1. Your comment gave me goosebumps — a “presence of compassion” is exactly what I long to be. I feel irresistibly drawn to hospice work, and in particular, the idea of secular chaplaincy within a palliative care framework. Unfortunately, I am finding little direction on where to even begin. If you have any words of wisdom, I would be profoundly grateful!

  2. I’m not sure how wise I can be right now, Cassie, but I will simply respond by saying there are good programs, even online, to help prepare for open-minded chaplaincy. I’m not sure what your background is, but two programs that come to mind are the Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, CA and Cherry Hill Seminary (online). These are masters programs for people seriously aiming for professional chaplaincy. Of course, if your intent is more informal, you may simply consider growing a secular/interfaith chaplaincy through a local hospice. If you haven’t already, you might make connections in your community and investigate what is already being done. Perhaps you can join a team or agency. Hope this helps a little. All the best. (you may also be interested in Chaplain Karen Kaplan’s book on hospice work, “Encountering the Edge.” I highly recommend that as well as my own book, “My Address is a River.”)

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