Yes, You Are a Government-Paid Missionary in Uniform
military chaplaincy is NOT about being a “government-paid pastor or missionary in uniform.”
Plummer is making a reference to a phrase made famous by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF, which copied (and slightly edited) a video from a 2004 chapel assembly at Dallas Theological Seminary by US Army Chaplain (Maj) Douglas Duerksen*. Chaplain Duerksen described the military society as “amoral” and “unchurched” — making it a “magnificent mission field.” He followed that by saying
…and its great to be a government paid missionary.
If you don’t view such a statement through a lens of cynicism or prejudice — or outright bigotry — it’s common sense. Christian men and women are missionaries wherever God sends them, whether He has them be a WalMart greeter, CEO, or US Army Soldier. (See the prior discussions on R.G. LeTourneau and Tim Tebow and the words of Mike Huckabee.) Since US troops are paid by the government, they are, indeed, government-paid missionaries.
In point of fact, all US troops are missionaries for their ideologies, whether they want to be or not — and whether they’re “good” missionaries or not. They may turn people off — or they may draw them to their cause — but they are missionaries one way or the other.
David Plummer could have made a more realistic point if he’d been a bit more judicious. It is true that it is not the sole job of a US troop or chaplain to try to convert fellow troops — but no one has ever claimed that to be true. Plummer is rejecting a strawman, one created by Mikey Weinstein and Chris Rodda, apparently because reality isn’t shocking enough to encourage people to restrict the religious freedom of US troops who have beliefs they don’t like.
A Christian Soldier could lead a fellow Soldier to Christ by talking to him about salvation, and he would be a missionary for Jesus Christ. A Christian Airman could work his entire deployment to Afghanistan “as to God, not men,” and never once try to evangelize his peers — even so, he is still a missionary for Christ. Both are also still paid by the government. Perhaps Plummer doesn’t like the way it sounds, but it makes it no less true.
Mikey Weinstein turned the soundbite into a rallying cry — the lack of truth behind it notwithstanding. He and Chris Rodda did much the same with the more benign phrase “ambassadors for Christ in uniform” (a phrase OCF still uses). The reason Mikey Weinstein has attacked the Christian faith of US troops isn’t because they use the word “missionary” or “ambassador,” but because they have the Christian faith.
This is ultimately a call to restrict religious liberty. If you’re lucky, Mikey Weinstein and Chris Rodda will say it’s ok for you to have your faith — if you keep it within the four walls of your military chapel.
But if they don’t like your religious beliefs, Mikey Weinstein and Chris Rodda will even attack your religious church services — all the while claiming they’re defending your military religious freedom.
Their anti-Christian rallying cry begins with the simple –and false — accusation that you cannot live your faith in uniform.
That David Plummer — a chaplain endorser — would join in on Mikey Weinstein’s rallying cry is perhaps the most disappointing of all. Perhaps it was ignorance.
*Tragically, Chaplain Duerksen’s daughter died in Iraq two years later, a detail Mikey Weinstein has ignored as he’s tried to raise money using her father’s words.