The following account is provided anonymously, and certain details have been intentionally obscured to protect the identities of those involved.
I walked out of a church service last Sunday.
It wasn’t because I had a crying child or a vibrating cellphone. It was because when the singing stopped, the pastor who stood up in front of the congregation to deliver the sermon represented religious beliefs I disagreed with.
Now why, you might ask, was I even at a church whose pastor didn’t hold the same beliefs as me?
Easy: I’m in the US military.
Unfortunately, we don’t always have the luxury of “choosing” our church. Other times, we might choose the chapel on the post, yet watch as the pastor — the chaplain — changes from one year (or even one Sunday) to the next. And every service member will go through the process of moving, which means a new “job,” a new home, and a new church — every couple of years.
The way some people seem to tell the story, the military is being run (or overrun) Read more
US Navy Chaplain (LT) Nathan Grooms recently led a beach service near Subic Bay, Philippines, that was attended by more than 170 Marines — and 21 chose to be baptized. Of those 21, eight were American — the rest, from the local Philippine Military.
That’s a good story in itself about Read more
An article at CatholicPhilly has an interesting story about the small things that can have a big impact on a young military troop’s walk of faith.
Miguel Melendez was cadet at the US Coast Guard Academy when he saw the example of other Catholic cadets:
One of the Catholic cadets stood up at lunch and announced that a group of students would pray the rosary every Monday.
The announcement piqued Miguel Melendez’s interest.
“I was like, ‘I want to do that, I want to meet Read more
At the behest of the Chief of Naval Operations, the US Navy Chaplaincy has begun a summer campaign hashtagged “#CharacterMatters.” According to the Chaplaincy’s release on the subject, CNO Adm John Richardson
challenged us to “actively strengthen our shipmates’ integrity,” so that the entire Navy team, as an institution, behaves in a way that is “consistent with the values that we profess.”
It’s a fascinating opportunity — and one that could be easily missed. For example, it Read more
A Nellis Air Force Base Air Traffic Controller, SrA Irene Nelson, recently posted an official personal interest article about his “transition” to a woman. He made the important note that he was raised in a conservative Christian household:
I grew up in a very conservative Christian household…
My parents had issues with my sexual orientation (surprise), and they took me to a gay conversion seminar when I was about 15 years old…
I spent endless hours studying the Bible and praying for God to give me clarity as to why I had these temptations or feelings. Why couldn’t he take them away? Nothing is as hard as your whole world telling you that you are wrong. Your existence is wrong.
Lost in Nelson’s religious and philosophical musings is an important point. What if the “whole world [is] telling you that you are wrong” because you are wrong? More to the point, “right” and “wrong” aren’t Read more
One of the roles of a military chaplain is to advise commanders on the religious rules and rights of both the commanders and their subordinates. Retired Air Force Chaplain Norris Burkes recently tried to capitalize (again) on his military career by publishing an awkwardly worded article in which he admitted giving bad advice.
Burkes told the story in prose:
“What’s this about, Chaplain?” asked the USAF squadron commander.
“It’s the fish, sir.”
“Yes sir,” I said, pointing Read more
An interesting panel was recently held in Korea that commemorated — and attempted to correct the history on — Operation Kiddy Car, the US military’s evacuation of thousands of Korean orphans during the Korean War.
The operation and the autobiography by Dean Hess have been previously discussed, again when Hess died in 2015. The recent panel was held to try to re-emphasize the role of Chaplain (Col) Russell Blaisdell, whose role some feel has been unfairly ignored:
Blaisdell, his assistant Staff Sgt. Merle (Mike) Strang and South Korean social workers collected children from the streets and “saved many orphans from near-certain death,” according to an Air Force account of the operation…
Blaisdell…persuaded Col. T.C. Rogers — the unit’s director of operations and Read more
Update: The ceremony was covered here.
Each year a select few are chosen to be elevated to the Ranger Hall of Fame, and this year a local Georgia pastor has made the cut.
That pastor is Jeff Struecker (website) of Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia. He is also former Sgt Struecker, Army Ranger during the fight in Somalia immortalized in Black Hawk Down, who eventually became US Army Chaplain (Maj) Struecker. Struecker, then, is probably a rare theologian inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.
A recent interview Struecker gave Read more