Panel: Chaplains Already Counseling Gays, Serving Atheists
A panel discussion in Washington, DC, entitled “Current Topics Facing Today’s Military Chaplains” included Chaplains (LtCol) Carleton Birch, (LtCol) Lisa H. Tice, and (CAPT) John H. Lea of the Christian faith, Chaplain (LtCmdr) Abuhena Saifulislam of the Islamic faith, and Chaplain (Capt) Jerry Seidler of the Jewish faith.
Birch reportedly said that the DADT repeal may be fairly benign for Chaplains, given that they’ve been counseling homosexual servicemembers all along.
Army Chaplain Lt. Col. Carleton Birch said Wednesday that chaplains already have experience in counseling homosexual soldiers and will likely be able to adjust easily to an openly homosexual military.
“I’ve counseled homosexual soldiers when if I told anyone else that, they would get kicked out,” shared Birch, an evangelical.
The article indicates one Navy Chaplain has left the service over repeal, and quotes retired Army Chaplain (BrigGen) Douglas Lee expressing concern about where this could go:
As a retired chaplain, Lee mentors and encourages serving chaplains. He fears that America’s chaplains will eventually be subjected to the same restrictions as their Canadian brothers.
“In Canada, they do not allow chaplains to preach [or] teach about homosexuality,” Lee explained.
Birch said some army chaplains have also expressed trepidations about free speech. “It’s a big deal and our chaplains have had a lot of concerns.”
The article notes the panel addressed the varied roles of the Chaplaincy, including caring for those who don’t share the particular faith tenets of the Chaplains:
The panelists mentioned how the modern chaplain respectfully cares for atheist or non-theist soldiers as well as soldiers of minority faiths such Buddhism or Baha’i.