Baptist Pastor to Buddhist Military Chaplain

Thomas Dyer grew up Presbyterian and enlisted in the Marines.  Feeling threatened by the training he was receiving to kill, he left the Marines and attended Mid-America Baptist Seminary, eventually becoming a Baptist preacher.  His inability to find happiness as a Christian led him to convert to Buddhism.  Having obviously given up his job as a Protestant preacher, he joined the Army National Guard and was commissioned a Chaplain in 2008.  He will deploy to Iraq in January.

The article on Dyer is quite interesting, detailing both his wife’s reaction (she stands by him, though she hopes he’ll return to Christianity) and Dyer’s own lifelong search for fulfillment.

Buddhist blogs have caught the story and are filled with attempts to reconcile the seeming contradiction of a Buddhist in the military, as the teachings tend to favor non-violence.  However, while the article says Dyer is the first Buddhist Chaplain in the Army, he is not the first Buddhist Chaplain in the military, nor is he the only Buddhist in the military.

Photo: Mike Brown / The Commercial Appeal.
As noted at Buddhist Military Sangha, the blog created by the first US Armed Forces Buddhist Chaplain.