Georgia Army National Guard Gets a Chaplain First

After all the stories about “firsts” with regard to female and African-American chaplains, the Georgia Army National Guard had its own first, with a chaplain who was a first in his faith:

[Paul] McCabe became the first Episcopal Chaplain the history of the Georgia Army National Guard.

On one hand, this seems a reasonable “first” to highlight, given the fact chaplains are explicitly brought into the service because of the faith group they represent — not their ethnicity or gender.

On the other hand, the US military lumps the entire Christian faith into either Catholic or Protestant, and all chaplains representing a Christian faith — or any faith that isn’t Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism — wear the cross. In that regard, given the preponderance of cross-wearing chaplains in the military, McCabe’s entrance into the service isn’t as notable.

Despite that technicality, faithful US troops do actually care about the faiths of their chaplains — even if, officially, many are painted to at least look like they represent the same beliefs. Since it isn’t evident from his physical appearance, it’s beneficial for the Army National Guard to let their troops know the belief system to which their chaplain adheres.

The article on Chaplain McCabe is an interesting contrast with one last year on Chaplain Anita Morris — which didn’t even mention religion, much less her faith, choosing instead to focus on her status as an “African-American female.”

Understanding the religious beliefs of the faith representative in your unit — that’s something worth talking about. It’s a shame such useful and relevant information is so often dismissed in favor of more politically interesting characteristics of the human condition.