Military Religion Question of the Day: Hensley

In May 2009, al Jazeera broadcast a show that included film from a military chapel in Afghanistan.  In the sermon, US Army Chaplain (LtCol) Gary Hensley told his congregation they had a responsibility to be a ‘witness for Jesus.’  He said:

The special forces guys—they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down.… Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That’s what we do, that’s our business.

As a result, some organizations have accused the Chaplain of violating military regulations and providing the adversaries of America with propaganda proving the US is on a ‘crusade.’

Did Chaplain Hensley’s sermon violate military rules against proselytizing, or any other military regulation or public policy?

Many of the resources at Religion and the Military may help you find an answer.  Stay tuned for more.

Update: Read the answer to this Military Religion Question of the Day.


  • Nice straw man, JD. To my knowledge, nobody, including MRFF, ever claimed that Hensley was violating military regulations. All MRFF ever said about the video clip of Hensley was that Al Jazeera had obviously included it in their report to show the general evangelical climate at Bagram. MRFF’s only interest in the video was the part about the soldiers having Dari and Pashtu Bibles.

    So, who are the “some organizations” that said Hensley was violating regulations? Obviously, there was more than one, since you pluralized the word “organizations.” Please post the names of these organizations.

  • Your “knowledge” is incomplete. I suggest you research your archives. Based on that information, your implication that the MRFF is “disinterested” in Hensley’s sermon is downright laughable.

    On the other hand, are you now prepared to say that Hensley’s sermon was completely permissible? You now have the opportunity to clearly state your organization’s position.

    Your other questions will be addressed in the answer to this article. You will evidently find it enlightening.

    Since this is a position actually held by people and organizations, you’ve misapplied the “straw man” fallacy.

  • I only wrote about Hensley one time, and absolutely did not say that Hensley’s sermon violated regulations. What Hensley said was during an actual religious service, so of course it was permissible. Here’s the link to the only piece in which I mentioned Hensley so your readers can read exactly what I wrote.

    You wrote that “some organizations have accused the Chaplain of violating military regulations.” You must have some idea who these organizations are. Right? I mean, unless you’re just making crap up. But a good Christian like yourself would never do that, now would he? I look forward to seeing who these organizations are in your “answer to this article.”

  • I only wrote about Hensley one time…

    Someone has a complex. Nowhere did anyone say anything about what Chris Rodda wrote. You should expand your search volume. No offense, but its not all about you.

  • Who else at MRFF wrote anything about Hensley? I write virtually all the articles that come from MRFF. I don’t have a “complex.” I have a job that includes writing the articles that present MRFF’s position, and know that I’m the only person from MRFF who wrote anything mentioning Hensley.

  • Chris,

    You never answered my direct question from the Military Officers and Religious Ideology post. Also, this article never mentioned MRFF by name yet you assumed that he had to be talking about your organization-the realm of ‘nobody’ is quite large.

  • Dealer…

    JD said “some organizations.” He did not name MRFF in the body of his post, but has MRFF in his tags at the bottom. I simply want him to name the “some organizations” that he claims said Hensley’s statement during the chapel service was a violation of military regulations. By “nobody” I meant any organization that has made this claim. JD claims there was more than one, but has thus far evaded my request that he name them.

    JD also implies in his comment above that MRFF is one of the “some organizations” he’s referring to by saying that I should research MRFF’s archives.

    As for you question on the other post, I don’t know what statements Cash has made in uniform and what one he’s made not in uniform. But that wasn’t the point of MRFF’s issue with him, or the issue raised by the Washington Post. The point was how Cash’s statements make America look to the world, given that he is the chaplain at Camp David and has been complimented by the president.

  • Chris,

    Fair enough on this post. From the last one, you’re saying you don’t care what the rules are, just how America looks to the world?

  • No, dealer, that is not what I’m saying. I’m saying that in the particular case of Chaplain Cash, his writings about Islam, when they were revealed by the Washington Post, became an issue of how America looks to the world. This was obvious from the newspapers and blogs in other countries that were picking up on what was in the Washington Post story.

    You can’t lump every story together. Some involve violations of regulations and others don’t, but are important for other reasons.

  • Chris,

    So you’re pushing the issue because you care about the image of America rather than the actual expression of religious freedom?

  • Why does it have to be one or the other?

  • You’ve made it “one or the other.”

    You’ve criticized Cash’s words (easily an exercise of his religious freedom) because they impact “how America looks to the world.”

    Your criticism indicates you believe America’s image trumps religious freedom.

  • Chris,

    Because you cannot do both-at some point one must take priority over the other. There are certain policies that I don’t like in the military, but I respect them because they protect other people’s expression of freedom.

  • The issue of Cash’s statements about Islam is not about Cash’s freedom of religious expression. He can write whatever he wants to as an individual. This is an issue of the lack of vetting of someone whose personal views are likely to be scrutinized, and might reflect badly on America — which is exactly what happened. The military should be more careful in appointing anyone to a highly visible position, like the chaplain at Camp David, where their past writings and statements are likely to become an issue, and the Obama administration should have found out more about Cash’s views before releasing statements in which the president complimented him.

    And, JD, although this thread has shifted to the subject of Chaplain Cash, I’m still waiting for the names of those “some organizations” you claim said Hensley’s sermon violated military regulations.

  • As a representative of a “religious freedom” organization, I find it unconscionable that you would call for the military to “screen” its Chaplains’ religious views.

    Glad to hear you’re still waiting. The reply to your inquiry is unchanged.

  • So, you will be posting the names of the “some organizations” in your “answer” post, right? I can’t wait to see who they are.

  • The answer to this article is now posted here.