Islamic Army Chaplain Shabazz Dons Christian Stole

As previously announced, on May 23rd Chaplain (LtCol) Khallid Shabazz took over as the Division Chaplain for the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis McChord:

Shabazz…became the Army’s first Islamic chaplain at the division level at a Change of Stole ceremony…officiated by Maj. Gen. Thomas James Jr., 7th Infantry Division commanding general.

The “changing of the stole” appears to be strictly a US Army chaplaincy tradition, as it is not found in all the other Services. There is little to no information on when the ceremony began in the Army, though it has been cited as being based on Old Testament tradition.

The stole ceremony is already an awkward event for non-liturgical chaplains — that is, chaplains whose faiths don’t wear the vestments of a priest.

To pass the vestment of a Christian priest on to a Muslim just seems…odd. Nevertheless.

For his part, Shabazz seems to feel comfortable with the Christian faith, given that he says he once was a Christian:

Shabazz…grew up as a Lutheran in Louisiana and converted to Islam as an enlisted Soldier.

“What has served me well is I was Christian for 28 years,” Shabazz said. “I know both sides; I want to meet people where they are. If they come in and they are struggling with faith, I am not opposed to giving them their scripture and telling them how they can strengthen themselves.”

At the time he was a field artilleryman named Michael Barnes — who was supposedly studying to be a Lutheran minister while also racking up two Article 15s.

It would be an interesting conversation to have with Chaplain Shabazz, to see why he thinks he was a Christian — and how that reasoning plays into his conversion to another religion. After all, even Lutherans will tell you one can “grow up Lutheran” without ever being a Christian.

Now at the ArmyTimes.