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  1. #1

    Question Must U.S. Military Chaplains Believe In God to be Ordained?

    Should Military Chaplains Have To Believe In God?

    ...Jason Heap, a 38-year-old graduate of the University of Oxford, and of Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. Heap was born in Houston and raised in Philadelphia as a devout Christian; he was licensed as a Christian minister in Texas, and, ultimately, lost his faith.
    Heap is applying to become the first humanist chaplain. These chaplains are also assigned to the pastoral care of Marines. But this leads to the inevitable question: What would you do, on the eve of battle, if a grunt asked you to pray with him?

    "As a pastoral caregiver, I wouldn't lead a prayer with that particular person, but I would help them with it," Heap says. "Having come from the background of Christians, I would understand what sort of things to help the person speak about. I am very familiar with the Bible as a scholar. If they are a humanist or an atheist, even Wiccan or pagan, it would be on the sort of terms where I would be able to work more with them philosophically."
    Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives an instructing the armed forces to only allow religious organizations that believe in a higher power to endorse chaplains. And so far, the Navy has not indicated whether it will accept the Humanist Society as the endorser of Jason Heap.
    According to current Pentagon records, about 1 percent of active duty military in all four services checked boxes for "agnostic" and "atheist" as their religious status. That's more than 13,000 soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors. This is, incidentally, more than all the Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims combined — and they each have their own chaplains.

    But some traditional chaplains, such as Ron Crews, will have none of it. Crews, a retired Army chaplain with 28 years in uniform, is director of the advocacy group Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.

    " 'For God and country.' That is the motto of the chaplain corps," he says, "and someone who comes from a humanist freethinker position could not ascribe to that motto. So it's by definition of who a chaplain is."
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  2. #2
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Don't they have to try to facilitate soldiers of all faiths, regardless of what their own happens to be? If so, I don't see why believing in no deity would be worse than believing in a different deity.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
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    I find it odd that the military would be averse to something that could be a strong incentive and encouragement to servicemen and -women that are enlisted or considering enlisting. People that feel supported and understood are happier and more productive... I think this is a sound statement. I also understand that the military lags significantly behind the civilian population in policy and societal attitudes.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

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    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    With one thousand military bases in foreign countries it's about time the USA has humanist chaplains.

    Mind you I think humourous chaplains would be more appropriate in helping recruits break the fifth commandment.

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    reflecting pool Typh0n's Avatar
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    Whatever happened to freedom of religion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Typh0n View Post
    Whatever happened to freedom of religion?
    The land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy!

    The concepts of freedom are highly insulative to the purports of a militaristic organization.

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    reflecting pool Typh0n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superunknown View Post
    The land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy!

    The concepts of freedom are highly insulative to the purports of a militaristic organization.
    I could comment on this, but I suppose irony speaks for itself.

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    Insert witty line here... Ponyboy's Avatar
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    As I mentioned in another thread, I don't believe in/understand religion, but if someone doesn't believe in God then how could they be a "go-to" person in matters of God? (I am intentionally ignoring the military aspect of it.)
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    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    As far as I was told (I haven't looked at the regulations myself), military chaplains are the only "counselors" that do not have to report ANYTHING you say, no matter what it is, so they are really the only ones that you can say absolutely anything to in that setting (as opposed to psychologists and other counselors). I personally don't think it's right that only religious people can be in that position.

    With that said, if they only acted in a religious capacity and not as counselors that would be a different story.

    I've never personally wanted to speak to any counselor or chaplain, but I think that if I wanted to, I would be turned off by the idea of having someone bring religion forward as an answer. I know some chaplains do and some don't, but I know that some feel like they have a duty to do so and it would be difficult for me to take the situation seriously after that.

    In regards to the idea of being a "go-to" person for a religion...A Christian chaplain isn't really a go to person for anyone that isn't a Christian so I don't see how a Humanist would be any different.
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    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

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    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    My mom worked as a *hospital* chaplain for the dying. She had a background in Christianity/Judaism and was trained to perform last rights, but she doesn't particularly have any religious affiliation.

    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    Don't they have to try to facilitate soldiers of all faiths, regardless of what their own happens to be? If so, I don't see why believing in no deity would be worse than believing in a different deity.
    I think that's right.



    Aside from persons who were concerned with specific theological questions or who needed special ceremony (Catholics), I'd assume that the whole idea is to have another human nearby to provide you with solace and care in a time of doubt or pain and it doesn't particularly matter what faith they are.

    But then again, that's a bit of a humanist sentiment in of itself.
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

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