Chaplains, the Constitution, and Spiritual Backgrounds

An Air Force article about a shortage of chaplains at Creech Air Force base opened with an important statement:

With every airman having a different faith, each has something unique to add to the mission.

Implicit in that statement is something often forgotten:  The Air Force recognizes (or should recognize) virtue in the fact its Airmen have religious beliefs.

Another interesting Air Force article about military chaplains from Ramstein, Germany, explained what chaplains do and where they come from: 

When thinking of the phrase “separation of church and state” and its embodiment, a multitude of examples may swarm a person’s mind, but military chaplains are probably not one.

In fact, as a Department of Defense employee and a religious leader, a military chaplain may be what comes to mind as the opposite of the phrase…

“Our purpose is to first of all provide to the First Amendment rights of our Airmen through freedom of religion,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Christopher Underwood, 86th Airlift Wing.

In a somewhat refreshing reminder, the article also notes chaplains naturally, and expectedly, speak from their theological backgrounds:

While the chaplain hosting the event or talking with a person may speak through the lens of their spiritual background, the chapel encourages everyone to utilize the services provided by chaplains and chaplain assistants.

Over the past few years some have criticized military chaplains for having the gall to speak in terms of their ‘exclusive’ theological beliefs, seemingly forgetting that’s the whole point of having chaplains from different systems of beliefs.

The article also included an interesting comment regarding “made up” religions:

There is a list of DOD-recognized religions that chaplains can vouch for to ensure commanders are respecting actual practices and not ones made up by individual…