The 2016 AFRC Chaplain Corps Conference Disaster
by Sonny Hernandez
On April 18-21, 2016, the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) Chaplain Corps Conference commenced in Chicago, IL. The theme of this aforementioned conference was “soul care” and “moral injury.” The keynote civilian speakers for this event were: Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock and Dr. Jonathan Shay, who were publicized as being world renowned experts in the field of moral injury. Unfortunately, there were Air Force chaplains that left the conference who experienced “moral injury” after being forced to listen to the diatribe of theological degradation from both speakers who propagated messages that were antithetical to the Christian faith, while Air Force Reserve chaplains were mandated to be in attendance. The purpose of this cogent article is to help Air Force chaplains to carefully ascertain Air Force Chaplain Corps mandated events, and also to encourage chaplains to promote future events that do not continue the practice of inviting speakers that denigrate Christian orthodoxy, which will be discussed further in this article.
In a conference with a vast populace of clergy, there were many chaplains that expected to be galvanized into action or adjured to be faithful and persevere. Instead, the two civilian speakers’ messages were far from being faithful, but rather frivolous. This is why conservative, Bible-believing chaplains need to carefully ascertain Air Force Chaplain Corps mandated events, since most Chaplain Corps events I have ever attended have fostered a homosexual agenda, emboldened anti-Christian rhetoric, and omitted Scripture and Christ’s Name in prayer.
The conference speakers were unavailing choices to promulgate messages to Air Force chaplains. First, Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock’s oration was irreconcilable to Christian orthodoxy because she used her emotions, personal anecdotes, and eisegesis as the ultimate test of truth which is why her message was nothing more than psycho-babbling, parochial claptrap. In my opinion, Dr. Nakashima Brock’s message stupefied her audience with anti-church rhetoric, which should not be perplexing since she has historically stated that “she would never belong to a church that didn’t have a gay or lesbian pastor.” In addition, Dr. Nakashima Brock has a historical record of fatuous, anti-Christian rhetoric that is disconcerting to any conservative, Bible-believing chaplain who would be mandated to attend any conference with her as a speaker. Dr. Nakashima Brock’s quotes will elucidate my point, because according to the testimony of Scripture, they are far from being holistic, but rather heresy:
“Christianity is not other-worldly. It is a life-affirming faith concerned about human life in the present, not about personal salvation in the afterlife.” (Chalice Introduction to Disciples Theology, Ch 10, pg. 105)
“Focusing on the crucified Christ does not enable us to resist the vast forces of colonialism and economic exploitation that harm so many in our world.” (Ibid.)
Brock was a poor choice to speak to a room full of (largely) heterosexual Christian pastors – the very people and beliefs she has routinely denigrated.
Second, Dr. Jonathan Shay delivered an elongated colloquy that was disjointed and incoherent as he attempted to speak on moral injury. As a retired Department of Veteran Affairs Staff Psychologist, he did not appear to possess an intellectual acuity that his audience was military chaplains because he used an obscenity (vile speech), abused the Lord’s Name in vain (blasphemy), and even used racist comments that offended several chaplains in attendance and placed them in an invidious position. Several Air Force Chaplains that were in attendance contacted me directly to digress about Dr. Shay’s illustrations where the “n” word was used.
If the Air Force chaplaincy is going to conduct an event on moral injury to a multitude of chaplains, then it would be incumbent upon them to not recruit unprofessional (Dr. Shay), anti-Christian, homosexual activists (Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock) to help their audience inculcate a deeper understanding.
Lastly, I would like to personally encourage chaplains to consider inviting conservative, Bible-believing speakers who possess ministerial acumen and are not ashamed to be heralds of Scripture, where there will be no worry of anti-God rhetoric, vile speech, or racist remarks.
To my fellow Air Force chaplains who are Gospel-centered:
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
*Photo Caption: Conference attendees Maj Gen John Flournoy, Commander, 4th Air Force, AFRC; Chaplain (MajGen) Dondi Costin, Air Force Chief of Chaplains; Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock; Dr. Jonathan Shay; Chaplain (Col) Gary Califf, Command Chaplain, HQ AFRC; Maj Gen Stayce Harris, Commander, 22nd Air Force, AFRC.
Chaplain (Capt) Sonny Hernandez is a US Air Force Reserve Chaplain assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. In April 2015, he was selected as the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Individual Mobilization Augmentee Company Grade Officer of the Year, and in May 2016, he was selected as 445th Airlift Wing CGO of the Quarter, first quarter. Hernandez earned a Doctorate from Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The opinions expressed here are solely his and do not necessarily represent the views of any government, military, or religious organization. Sonny Hernandez wrote this article as a civilian on his own time on an issue of public interest.