Marine Officer Defends Beach Baptism of Marines

The LA Times blog on the beach baptism of US Marines at Camp Pendleton generated an unusually high amount of vitriol toward religious exercise in the military.  There were also accusations of command influence and coercion.

A recent comment posted at the original blog attempts to rebut those accusations with the first public first-hand account of the event:

As a Marine Officer and the Public Affairs Officer who covered this event I would like to say that this amazing event was completely voluntary. In fact the event started with a hand-full of Marines who approached the chaplain to do it. As others heard about it they all got on board. 

The Chaplain Corps and the services they provide are beyond exceptional. The Chaplain is not only a religious advisor but a counselor to those who may not believe in any religion.

I don’t see how one event where 29 out of 800 Marines participated in can be seen as fundamentalism.

The Battalion Commander, religion aside, was there to support his Marines and nothing more. Weather [sic] supporting the 29 participants or the 769 who didn’t he was in his shorts standing in the water supporting his Marines and his Chaplain where others may not have.

Building trust in our Chaplains when our troops need them most in this era of PTSD and TBI is more important than ever. If you can’t see this please take another look.

Posted by: K Kunze | August 23, 2010 at 01:39 PM

Publicly available information indicates 1LT Ken Kunze is a public affairs officer for Camp Pendleton.