Jason Torpy, the one-man band that is the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, recently posted a point-by-point refutation of recent accusations of the US military being hostile to Christianity.
Much of his disagreement was nuance or the way in which something was phrased, which isn’t worth discussing here. The interesting ones, though, were the cases in which he agreed with the US military’s “anti-Christian” actions:
January 2010 — Department of Defense orders removal of tiny Bible references on military scopes and gunsights.
Torpy: True and appropriate.
This issue has been discussed before. While there is no religious requirement the references remain, the fact they were targeted because of their (obscure) religious reference — only after Michael Weinstein complained, notably – is troubling. That he would seek this Read more…
The short 5-minute video is retired Chaplain (MajGen) Douglas Carver, formerly the US Army Chief of Chaplains, and now the executive director of chaplain services for the North American Mission Board, sharing stories from his experiences as a chaplain in the US Army.
One of the most interesting, at about the 2:00 mark, is his story about a civilian-clothed operator whom he helped reconcile his mission — covertly tracking and killing the enemy, on a personal level — and the righteousness of God. As the story continues, Chaplain Carver relates how that man came to help him.
The US military has long recognized the value of the family, even as it applies directly to the military mission. For that reason the military services have had a variety of programs to not only counter divorce, but also to help make marriages and families stronger. An Air Force Times article notes budget cuts have apparently not eliminated the marriage enrichment programs in the Air Force.
He recounted a recent meeting with a 24-year-old soldier who had attempted suicide but survived…Lee said when he heard the man’s story, he knew the rules said he should send the man to a chaplain, but his heart said to give him a Bible.
“The lawyers tell me that if I do that, I’m crossing the line,” Lee said. “I’m so glad I’ve crossed that line so many times…”
Lee pledged not to back down from “my right under the Constitution to tell a young man that there is hope…”
“As one general so aptly put it – they expect us to check our religion in at the door – don’t bring that here,” Rear Admiral William Lee told a National Day of Prayer gathering. “Leaders like myself are feeling the constraints of rules and regulations and guidance issued by lawyers that put us in a tighter and tighter box regarding our constitutional right to express our religious faith.”
Funny that he’d mention lawyers. Didn’t the Air Force’s highest ranking lawyer, the JAG of the Air Force LtGen Richard Harding, just Read more…
According to his own statements reported at a Washington Post blog, Michael Weinstein (of his self-founded Military Religious Freedom Foundation) met at the
Pentagon on April 23 where they discuss[ed] religious issues in a group that included several generals and a military chaplain.
The blog was written by Sally Quinn, who has been friendly to Weinstein’s cause in the past. Weinstein seems inimitably pleased at the invitation, as likely any private citizen in America might be if US Air Force leadership had a personal meeting with them on “religious issues in the military.” It’s unclear what grants Weinstein that legitimacy, beyond a spate of failed lawsuits and a series of self-published op-eds that would put even the most advanced thesaurus to shame (save the one he apparently plagiarized).
It would seem at least one senior leader was there, as the article claims one attendee was LtGen Richard Harding — The Judge Advocate General of the Air Force, who is the senior legal advisor to the Chief of Staff, General Mark Welsh: Read more…
A US Army article from Afghanistan covers the “Teach-Love-Care” aspect of the military chaplaincy. Several chaplains are quoted discussing unique and interesting aspects of the chaplain field:
On exposure to varying religious beliefs in the military:
“As a civilian minister, I was very church oriented, always surrounded by Christians. There wasn’t much chance to go out and meet people of other beliefs,” said U.S. Army chaplain Capt. Soojin Chang, a Southern Baptist chaplain…”But in the Army, I don’t have to go out and search for these people. They come to me and we discuss about our belief. There is a mutual respect with each other.”
As US Army Chaplain (Capt) Emil Kapaun posthumously receives the Medal of Honor for his service during the Korean War, the US Army took the opportunity to highlight the story of the entire chaplaincy during the era of the Korean War, including Chaplain Felhoelter, the first US Army chaplain killed in the conflict:
Other chaplains…narrowly escap[ed] as one American position after another fell before the North Korean advance. All survived, with the exception of Chaplain Herman G. Felhoelter of the 19th Infantry Regiment.
With his battalion falling back as the American position along the Kum River collapsed, Felhoelter volunteered to remain behind Read more…
The DoD has published a lengthy, two-part (1, 2) story on Chaplain Emil Kapaun, who will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor tomorrow. The articles contain many details of his private and military life, as well as many photographs.
Rabbi Herschel Schacter, a US Army Chaplain in World War II, has died. Rabbi Schacter had been prominent in the Modern Orthodox movement with Judaism. The Associated Press recalls a famous role he had in Germany 70 years ago:
Schacter served as an Army chaplain during World War II and was able to participate in the liberation of the Buchenwald Read more…
“In a lifetime of service at sea, Chaplain Karen Rector is clearly the best chaplain that I have sailed with,” said Capt. Daniel B. Uhls, USS Hue City commanding officer. “Chaplain of the year is a prestigious award that is in place to recognize the service’s finest, and I don’t believe anyone would have to look any further than Karen.”
A writer with Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa had a witty beginning to his story on the work of chaplains with their counterparts in the Kenyan military:
A Kenyan catholic priest, Anglican priest, and Muslim imam walk into a chapel.
This is not the start of a joke, but the beginning of a new partnership between Kenyan and U.S. military chaplains…Kenyan army Lt. Col. Alfayo Lelei, Kenyan air force Lt. Col. Lucas Gatobu and Kenyan army Maj. Mohamed Shukry [joined American chaplains] to discuss ways to better serve U.S. and Kenyan service members’ spiritual needs.
While chaplains protect the religious rights of those in the US military, some also serve “strategic” goals of the US military, engaging local religious leaders during conflicts and, as here, helping other nations in the development of their chaplaincies.