On December 7th, the US Navy chaplain corps memorialized two chaplains who died in the line of duty during the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Chaplain (CAPT) Leroy Kirkpatrick, aboard the USS Arizona, became the first Navy chaplain to die in what became known as World War II. Chaplain (Lt) Aloysius Schmitt, aboard the USS Oklahoma, was the first Roman Catholic chaplain killed in the war.
Few may realize that two years later the US Navy launched the USS Schmitt (DE-676) and the USS Kirkpatrick (DE-318), two of only seven US Navy warships named after chaplains.
In a short pieced entitled “Atheist says, ‘Boo!’ Navy jumps to attention,” Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty executive director retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews lamented the US military’s seeming subservience to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein:
“It’s just disappointing that the military, the Air Force and now the Navy, is just caving in to a shout from Mr. Weinstein,” says Crews. “He says, ‘Boo!’ and they hide – and that’s very disappointing.”
More interestingly, Crews highlights the core of the push Weinstein has most recently tried — and the one that brought him this “victory:” Continue reading →
A pair of Nativity scenes, one in the dining room for prison camp guards, are apparently causing a bit of a stir among a few troops at this remote outpost…
Ironically, Weinstein’s own letter undermined his cause, when one of an anonymous 18 complainants wrote [emphasis added]:
When they finally have time to relax with their military family they should not have to feel uncomfortable, out of place, or insignificant because their beliefs are not represented.
So its not about the presence of the Nativity, but the absence of other beliefs? Odd thing is, no one has complained that GTMO prohibited other displays, though its unclear what other belief systems celebrate Christmas. (GTMO residents say the base has been fairly public about several holidays, including Ramadan and Hanukkah.)
Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Ok), on the recent controversies regarding “So Help Me God” at the US Air Force Academy:
“As a Navy pilot with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I know firsthand the importance of faith to many of our service members. When the services are hostile to faith, they are hostile to their members. The Military Religious Freedom Coalition continues to identify instances whereby our men and women in uniform are forced to conceal or deny their deeply held religious beliefs.”
The blog will focus on how the Chaplain Corps meets its mission through the following core capabilities:
*To provide and facilitate religious ministry.
*Care for all with complete confidentiality.
*Advise leadership on morale, the moral and ethical command climate, and religious matters that affect the command’s mission.
The articles headlining the blog now seem to focus on ministry of presence — that is, chaplains in foxholes — and the protection of religious liberty.
In a fascinating case, the Conservative Baptist Association of America has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs, essentially alleging that a VA chaplaincy training program is intentionally preventing them from sending chaplains to VA and military medical centers:
The actions of the Secretary within the San Diego VA-DOD CPE Center establishing a secular, humanist and holistic religion which excludes mainstream Judeo-Christian beliefs discriminates against CBAmerica Chaplains, prevents them from practicing their religious beliefs, have forced them out of the program and will, if not corrected, prevent future CBAMERICA Chaplains from completing the program and practicing their faith in the health care facilities serviced by the program.
The VA-DOD CPE Center is responsible for preparing chaplains to serve in military and VA medical facilites around San Diego.
Captain Tim Riemann recently attended Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School, a basic officer course for communications and leadership skills — somewhat like a 9-month version of Air Force Squadron Officer School. He wrote an article while there entitled “Replace the Clergy” that was published in the unofficial Marine Corps Gazette:
It [is] clear that the Chaplain Corps is expensive and provides a redundant religious capability, and its members are routinely employed beyond their capabilities. Therefore, the Department of the Navy (DoN) should begin phasing out active duty chaplains, replace them with licensed professional counselors (LPCs), and utilize the Reserve Chaplain Corps for duty exclusively in combat-designated areas.
While an interesting topic, the article was clearly an academic exercise and reads like little more than a school project. At about 1,600 words, Riemann has little time to articulate his argument on a substantial topic and fails to Continue reading →
If you’ve never heard President Ronald Reagan’s address to the Baptist Fundamentalism conference in April of 1984, it’s worth 20 minutes of your time. Reagan reads Jewish Navy Chaplain Arnold Resnicoff’s report from the Beirut barracks bombing the year prior. Reagan’s reactions, as well as his handling of hecklers as he reads, is fascinating.
It’s a real pleasure to be with so many who firmly believe that the answers to the world’s problems can be found in the Word of God.
- President Ronald Reagan
Think a US President would address a 20,000 strong Baptist audience today and say that on TV?
The Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit on Monday on behalf of Catholic military Chaplain Ray Leonard, who was prohibited from ministering as a chaplain because he was deemed “non-essential” to military morale and readiness.
The priest was one of thousands of civilian military employees and contractors furloughed because of the failure of Congress to reach a deal on funding the federal government. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has since recalled some Defense Department workers, but civilian military chaplains were excluded.
A variety of news sources noted that the decision to furlough government civilians in the Department of Defense has meant some chaplains couldn’t go to work either — and thus US military chapel services will not be held:
With the government shutdown, ["General Schedule"] and contract priests who are furloughed are not allowed to work, not even to volunteer, according to John Schlageter, general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services. “During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base, and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so,” he said.
This is generally true for all people in equivalent government positions, not just chaplains. Interestingly, a Catholic spokesman noted that there are actually more civilian/contract Catholic chaplains in the US military than active duty ones: Continue reading →
A US Navy article recently highlighted the Navy ROTC program at the College of the Holy Cross, a Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition. While the friendly drill and athletic competition was the topic, it was mostly interesting to read the references to the Catholic college’s military program:
“I really enjoyed it,” said Holy Cross Midshipman 4th Class Annie Grimmke…
Given the sometime political sensitivity of associating the US military and religion, its a wonder a certain critic of Christianity in the military hasn’t demanded that Holy Cross either change their name or be stripped of their ROTC program.