A Humanist Chaplain Who Doesn’t Understand Military Chaplaincy

In early November Jason Torpy posted a profile on Jared Anderson, a man who presents himself as a chaplain endorsed by the Humanist Society. A former Mormon (Latter Day Saint) — or a current LDS who doesn’t follow LDS theology, depending on how you look at it — Anderson advocates “religious humanism.”

The nice thing about the United States of America is you can call yourself whatever you want. However, that does not mean you get to do whatever you want, nor that the government or society are required to support your choice (gender and pronouns notwithstanding, apparently).

That’s something Anderson apparently doesn’t understand, as he claims he wants to be a military chaplain (and the US military doesn’t have non-religious religious leaders) [emphasis added]: 

I feel most strongly called to a modern ministry that provides not just Christian worship services but also humanist services and outreach to those who reject religious labels…

As a Humanist Chaplain, I am completely comfortable praying with hospice patients, administering rituals, and officiating religious services.

That’s precisely the problem. To officiate a religious service, one would need to be religious, not humanist. Does Anderson really think he would be welcome by Jews, Christians, and Muslims to officiate each of their respective religious services — especially when he’s “dedicated his life to fixing their religion? That’s moronic. It belittles the faithful to think they would allow someone who doesn’t share their belief to go through the motions and “lead” them in their belief. It is a mockery — yet one Anderson seems to think is legitimate. That’s either naïveté, stupidity, or malice — or perhaps some combination thereof.

Anderson’s a la carte approach to spirituality is his personal preference, but that’s all it is. And neither the government nor the military are required to legitimize his personal take on religion.

As an aside, Anderson continues to repeat Jason Torpy’s demographic falsehood about the US military:

This is even more important in a military that has strong support for established religions, but does not yet provide resources for the over twenty five percent of members who choose no religious identification on their official records. That’s over a quarter of our military that can’t be served by current chaplain offerings, and I hear them calling.

As has been demonstrated previously, “no religious preference” does not mean atheist, agnostic, humanist, or even “not religious.”  One of those 25% of people Anderson hears “calling” is Nidal Malik Hasan. Do you really think the devout, extremist Muslim wanted a humanist “chaplain” just because he did not choose a religious identification in his records?

For a guy with a PhD, you’d think Anderson would know better.


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