Rabbi Suggests New Military Chaplain Insignia

Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, a former Navy Chaplain who once acted as a special advisor to the Air Force on religious issues and remains engaged in current events, has a guest column in the Washington Post suggesting it is time for a new Chaplain’s insignia in the US military.

Today’s chaplains wear one of four separate insignias: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist. Now that Pratima Dharm is the Army’s first Hindu chaplain, we need to create a fifth. But the time has come to do more: to create a new approach to the insignias that all chaplains wear.

Chaplain Dharm has been previously highlighted.  Resnicoff’s premise is that with increasing “diversity” will come Chaplains from increasingly unique faith groups, and the faith-distinct symbol (cross, crescent, tablet, or wheel) will cease to be recognized as a Chaplain’s insignia.  His solution is a new universal Chaplain’s insignia, upon which would be placed a smaller distinctive faith symbol.

A new approach to insignia could create a device for chaplains that would combine their religious symbol and the shepherd’s crook. That insignia would link our chaplains to their faith communities and to the historic military roots of the chaplaincy as a whole. Both of those symbols could be displayed on the face of an open book that symbolized both the wisdom (and the Word) of our faith traditions-as well as the founding documents of our nation and our military that have created the vision for our Army, Navy, and Air Force Chaplain Corps.

Resnicoff’s suggestion is intriguing, though his column is the first (and only) public information that there is a “problem” to solve.  Such a change could also have unintended consequences.