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Richard
01-23-2011, 11:45
And so it goes...

Richard :munchin

Military Chaplains' Faiths Fail To Mirror Service Members'
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 22 Jan 2011

In the military, the chaplain serves as both a religious leader and a listener -- ideally one who can assist military personnel of all faiths. A frequent refrain among chaplains is "chaplain to all, pastor to some."

But according to Department of Defense data, the nation's corps of chaplains leans heavily toward evangelical Christianity, failing to mirror the military it serves.

While just 3 percent of the military's enlisted personnel and officers call themselves Southern Baptist, Pentecostal or a member of a denomination that's part of the National Association of Evangelicals, 33 percent of chaplains in the military are members of one of those groups, according to Pentagon statistics.

And the disparity could soon widen.

Data from the Air Force indicate that 87 percent of those seeking to become chaplains are enrolled at evangelical divinity schools.

The discrepancy is the result of a number of variables, including an aversion by mainline Protestant and Catholic seminary leaders to participate in military culture after the Vietnam War; changes in the military's chaplain staffing and education policies; and the popularity of online courses for chaplain candidates at evangelical seminaries.

Military officials point out that chaplains are trained to support troops of all faiths, regardless of their own religious affiliation.

"In these various roles, chaplains respect the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs," said Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

But liberal theologians and educators say the imbalance could compromise efforts to meet the spiritual needs of soldiers facing combat or the stresses of military life. And some critics go further, arguing that the military risks becoming a mission field for evangelical Christianity.

In response, Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Mo., is launching its own program to train chaplains. The school is a seminary of the United Church of Christ, which is among the more liberal mainline Christian denominations. And its decision to train chaplains comes despite reservations about military involvement and objections to war.

"There's a vacuum," said Eden's president, the Rev. David Greenhaw. "And there's a general sense here that it's important to fill that vacuum."

Eden hopes to partner its chaplain track program with Webster University's counseling department, which works extensively with the military. Greenhaw said students would do theological coursework at Eden and counseling coursework at Webster.

The roots of Eden's decision can be traced to a visit Eden Professor Kristen Leslie and her graduate students made in 2004 to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to train chaplains there to deal with sexualized violence on campus.

Leslie, then a professor at Yale Divinity School, later filed a report saying she and her students observed cadets who "were encouraged to pray for the salvation of fellow [cadets] who chose not to attend worship" and were told that those not "born again will burn in the fires of hell."

Mikey Weinstein is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which argues that a military heavily influenced by evangelical Christianity threatens to trample the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

"These are government-backed missionaries for Jesus Christ who see the military as a mission field, fecund and fertile for proselytizing," Weinstein said. "I commend [Eden] for trying to fight back."

Military officials say they are sensitive to issues of diversity and interfaith understanding.

"We look, in particular, for a pluralistic understanding or attitude," said Col. Steven Keith, a chaplain and commandant of the Air Force Chaplain Corps College in Fort Jackson, S.C. "We want you to keep your theology and be able to work with people of different theologies."

Chaplains at Scott Air Force Base, whose duties include caring for airmen who are readying to deploy, say being sensitive to all faiths is critical.

Maj. Kenneth Johnson, a chaplain and an African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor, said that while he has opportunities to promote his own faith, he generally steers clear of doing so.

"I meet someone where they are, not where I am," Johnson said. "If the Holy Spirit lets that opportunity occur, it will, but you have to stay true to the spirit of who you are as a minister."

Col. Douglas Slater, a fellow chaplain at Scott, said that while chaplains should strive to be pluralistic in their work, they nonetheless "can't leave the roots of our endorsing agents."

Leslie's findings on her visit to the Air Force Academy point to a far more aggressive form of proselytizing by military chaplains and commanders. Her testimony on the issue before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee in 2005 helped lead the Air Force Academy to issue revised guidelines designed to encourage respect for the rights of cadets from all faith backgrounds and those who don't claim any particular faith.

Even so, in August a leaked report of a recent survey of cadets published by the Colorado Springs Independent revealed that 3 percent of cadets said they had been "subjected to unwanted proselytizing sometimes or very often." An additional 5 percent said they'd been proselytized "once or twice."

Critics say much of the problem stems from the fact that the faiths of chaplains are not reflective of military rank and file.

For example, the most popular Christian denomination among military members -- as it is among the public -- is Catholicism. Twenty percent of those in the active-duty military identify themselves as Catholic. Just 1 percent, meanwhile, are Southern Baptist.

In contrast, 16 percent of active-duty chaplains are Southern Baptist, while just 8 percent are Catholic, according to the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, there's less disparity in faith between non-Christian military personnel and non-Christian chaplains. In both cases, less than 1 percent identify themselves as being either Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, B'hai or Hindu.

Even so, there are only 33 such chaplains across all branches of the military, according to the Pentagon, making it unlikely that personnel adhering to those faiths would ever encounter a chaplain of their faith tradition.

http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2011/01/military_chaplains_faiths_fail.html

The Reaper
01-23-2011, 12:19
Hey, why do we draft so many evangelical chaplains?

Oh, wait, maybe the thesis should be why do "non-evangelical" ministers not volunteer to serve their nation more frequently?

I think they would love to have more Catholic priests to relieve the load from the few they have, but they just do not seem to volunteer very frequently. Isn't there a global shortage of priests?

The real question, IMHO, is how are chaplains recruited and selected. If there is some sort of evangelical mafia denying service to chaplain applicants of other faiths, that would be a point of concern. If the Army is having trouble recruiting a sufficient number of chaplains and has to take all of the ones that apply, regardless of faith, that is a separate issue and the question should have at least been asked by the reporter.

Looked like a hatchet job to me.

TR

wet dog
01-23-2011, 12:27
I think the governing body should discontinue the requirement of Theology Education by a University in order to become a Chaplain.

Does not one need to be called of "God"? How does a University place authority in one to act in His name? By what authority do they serve? Does a degree on the wall say they can serve in spiritual matters?

Seems pretty poor organization, I beleive the Chaplian service should be a lobor of love, drawn from the ranks of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.

"Pass the pipe and paoti soup".

98G
01-23-2011, 12:27
This is dated, but an interesting outcome of DADT repeal that could cause a further mismatch of religious beliefs and chaplains. I was in before DADT and tended towards the DWTK (Don't Want to Know) school of thought. I was also in at a time when we seemed to have a representative number of Catholic chaplains.

I am searching for the statistics for the shift in percentages over the years of chaplains and religious affiliation, but nothing of note, yet.

Conflict between Pentagon and Catholic military chaplains brews over ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
By Paul Conner - The Daily Caller | Published: 5:06 AM 06/07/2010


The archbishop for the U.S. military spoke out for the first time against the effort to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” setting up a possible conflict between Pentagon brass and the 285 Roman Catholic priests who serve on active-duty in the military.

“Those with a homosexual orientation can expect respect and treatment worthy of their human dignity,” said Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Catholic overseer for military chaplains, in a statement released late last week. “However, unions between individuals of the same gender resembling marriage will not be accepted or blessed by Catholic chaplains.”

Broglio was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI two and a half years ago, though it is unclear if the archbishop speaks for the Vatican, which has so far been mum on the issue.

Catholic priests serve an estimated 1.5 million Catholic men and women in the U.S. military, according to the Archdiocese website.

The statement follows an April 28 letter from 41 retired Army, Air Force and Navy chaplains to President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying that repealing the rule would present chaplains with “a profoundly difficult moral choice”–whether to obey God or men.

“Sacrificing the moral beliefs of individuals or their living conditions to respond to merely political considerations is neither just nor prudent especially for the armed forces at a time of war,” Broglio said. “Catholics believe that nothing will be done if there is a careful and prudent evaluation of the effects of a change.”

An evaluation by the Pentagon is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 1, but by then, Congress may have already passed legislation to repeal the Clinton-era rule that allows gays to serve in the military only if they do not reveal their sexual orientation.

The provision is steadily making its way through Congress on the coattails of a $760 billion defense spending bill, and it has strong supporters in Gates, Obama and Adm. Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs chairman.

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to repeal the policy on March 27. So did the House of Representatives 234-194. If the bill passes the Senate, the Pentagon would still need to wait until the Dec. 1 study is delivered to remove the ban.

The chiefs of the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps all oppose repeal.

“A number of chaplains and commanding officers have expressed concerns about the effects of a change,” Broglio wrote. “There is a request for guidance.”

Guidance from the Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: “Homosexual acts are contrary to the natural law,” and “under no circumstance can they be approved.”

So what happens when a gay man or woman serving his or her country seeks guidance from a priest? Does the priest withhold a blessing? Would the priest have freedom to espouse the Catholic teaching that homosexuality is “objectively disordered?”

“No restrictions or limitations on the teaching of Catholic morality can be accepted,” said Broglio. “First Amendment rights regarding the free exercise of religion must be respected.”

But Broglio made it clear that compassion would be a top priority as chaplains walk a razor’s edge.

“Catholic chaplains must show compassion for persons with a homosexual orientation but can never condone — even silently — homosexual behavior,” Broglio said. “A change might have a negative effect on the role of the chaplain not only in the pulpit, but also in the classroom, in the barracks, and in the office.”

uplink5
01-23-2011, 12:39
In response, Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Mo., is launching its own program to train chaplains. The school is a seminary of the United Church of Christ, which is among the more liberal mainline Christian denominations. And its decision to train chaplains comes despite reservations about military involvement and objections to war.

Perhaps the military needs to make a more concerted effort to reach out to these more liberal denominations. Help them to understand despite their reservations, there is a calling to fulfill, and that they too have an obligation to their military parishioners. Otherwise, the more evangelical Baptist are going to continue to fill the void in ever increasing percentages, thereby widening the issue.

There are many great evangelical Chaplins out there who are doing a wonderful job but, there should be better representation and it’s up to the military to point that out, and those more liberal under represented denominations to support and accomodate, to make it happen....jd

wet dog
01-23-2011, 13:07
I like the padre at 4:05

http://www.*******.com/watch?v=_yvyXxBOgVg

1stindoor
01-24-2011, 08:17
I'm only posting this because I am in the position of having to learn more about the Chaplain corps. My son, a HS senior, wants to get his Masters of Divinity and join the Army as a Chaplain.

As I "understand" the process, the military requires you to have a Masters of Divinity, from there you have to apply and be accepted into the Chaplain corps.

I agree with WD. A school's "degree" means little compared to the "calling" one should have to preach the gospel.

craigepo
01-24-2011, 09:05
A lot of denominations are running into the problem of filling empty pastor slots. I am a Lutheran, and the Lutheran churches require any pastor to have a Masters in Divinity before being ordained as a full pastor. Problem is, not so many people want/can attend 6 years of schooling. Our present pastor is a retired military pastor, who lives near Ft. Leonard Wood.

The reason for the Master's requirement for ordination is a good one; to ensure that the flock is not led astray by some dude who gets ordained by Fred's Church of the Whatever. However, not every pastor that gets a divinity degree is a good one, and many pastors who never have a bit of divinity are fantastic pastors. I heard a learned man state a pretty good rule: "A pastor doesn't need to have a degree, but he does need to be a good student of the Word."

Interestingly, the nationwide Lutheran denomination my church used to belong to(we left) began refusing military recruiters on the seminary campus (and yes, this was a mainline Lutheran church). This refusal was in line with many other liberal denominations. Kind of difficult to get those folks to volunteer for military service, when the brainwashers the prospects are learning from have that kind of attitude.

akv
01-24-2011, 11:30
The real question, IMHO, is how are chaplains recruited and selected. If there is some sort of evangelical mafia denying service to chaplain applicants of other faiths, that would be a point of concern. If the Army is having trouble recruiting a sufficient number of chaplains and has to take all of the ones that apply, regardless of faith, that is a separate issue and the question should have at least been asked by the reporter.

This makes sense. I recall reading accounts of troops in harms way grateful for a chaplain of any denomination, as long as he had integrity and cared equally for his flock.

wet dog
01-24-2011, 11:59
I'd re-enlist, today - if the Army would put me in Grp as a new Chaplain, and I didn't have to go back to school, and I could wear a war shirt, and I could be an MSG instead of an officer, and I could "count coup" every so often with an ODA.

I'd even carry a Bible, with a cutout to hold a flask for the non-believers.

As the Team S1, I requested religious services for:

(1) Virgin dressed in white
(1) Sacrficial Altar
(1) Kris Knife
(12) Hocky masks

When the Chaplain finally showed, he said I needed to take some time off.

1stindoor
01-24-2011, 12:30
I'd re-enlist, today - if the Army would put me in Grp as a new Chaplain, and I didn't have to go back to school, and I could wear a war shirt, and I could be an MSG instead of an officer, and I could "count coup" every so often with an ODA.

I'd even carry a Bible, with a cutout to hold a flask for the non-believers.

As the Team S1, I requested religious services for:

(1) Virgin dressed in white
(1) Sacrficial Altar
(1) Kris Knife
(12) Hocky masks

When the Chaplain finally showed, he said I needed to take some time off.

I used to have an 18E that had pagan on his dogtags (this was 20 years) his reasoning was that it would be cool to watch the Chaplain try and figure out how to get the sacrificial chicken and dancing virgins.