Military Chaplain Lights White House Menorah

White House photo.

US Army Chaplain (LtCol) Larry Bazer, Joint Forces Chaplain for the Massachusetts National Guard, was on hand December 13th at the White House to light a 90-year-old menorah.  (It turns out he was invited to do so last year, but was unavoidably detained:  He was deployed to Afghanistan.)  President Obama gave a history of Hanukkah and explained the application of its values to all.

Jews in Green notes that the Marine Band played traditional Jewish songs and the West Point Jewish Choir sang as well.

Believe it or not, a critic or two has complained in the past when military bands and servicemembers have participated in such ceremonies.  After all, it is statistically improbable that all the members of the Marine Band were Jewish, and a critic or two has complained this forces them into the uncomfortable presence of religion.

As these events show in reality, however, troops have a healthy respect for others’ religious exercise.  Their presence at a religious event — and the presence of a chaplain and the Commander in Chief — are indicative of the lengths to which the US military often goes to protect the religious liberties of its troops, including their ability to publicly express their faiths.

Whether you’re a Jewish servicemember in Kabul, or a Christian in Japan, the US military generally does an admirable job of supporting US troops in the exercise of their faith.

About that nativity, though…