Tag Archives: thomas dyer

The Interfaith US Military, According to the Huffington Post

The Huffington Post had a photo collection “celebrat[ing] the religious diversity of the military” on Veteran’s Day.  Their list:

Buddhist Chaplain to Open Army Meditation Center

Chaplain (Capt) Thomas Dyer, the US Army’s Baptist-preacher-turned-Buddhist-Chaplain is opening a meditation center in Afghanistan.

The Bagram Dharma Center in Afghanistan will be classified as a “faith-based resiliency center,” and it gives [Chaplain] Capt. Thomas Dyer…a better way to connect his Eastern beliefs, Southern roots and Middle Eastern deployment.

The article goes on to describe what it will be:  Read more

Buddhism and Meditation at Fort Benning

US Army Chaplain (Capt) Thomas Dyer was once a Marine.  He was also once a Southern Baptist preacher.

Dyer has served for several years, including a deployment to Iraq.  While he’s the first Army Buddhist chaplain, several Buddhists have recently become chaplain candidates.

The TV station local to Fort Benning recently did a short segment on the Chaplain, and the military’s support to religious freedom his service demonstrates:

Buddhist Chaplain Celebrates Vesak

As noted previously, Chaplain (Capt) Somya Malasri recently celebrated the Buddhist Vesak at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  Chaplain Malasri is reportedly the only active duty Buddhist Chaplain in the US Army.  (Buddhist Chaplain (Lt) Thomas Dyer is in the Army National Guard.)

Like Chaplains of other faiths, Malasri’s presence provides a unique support for members in the military of his faith:

Part of [Chaplain’s Malasri’s] service to others includes providing weekly Buddhist services on base. Spc. Lawrence Ross…attends regularly.
“(It gives me) a sense of belonging, where a group can connect without any animosity of judging,” he said.
Ross, who became a Buddhist in 2008, says that it has helped him become a better Soldier and that having a Buddhist presence on base helps people see another side of the Army.
“It’s not all about kicking down doors and killing people,” he said. “It’s all about helping people. Bottom line.”

Malasri has an interesting take on the apparent contradiction of a Buddhist Chaplain/Soldier — a religion stereotypically “peaceful.”  Read more

Buddhist Chaplain Leads Holy Day in Iraq

US Army Chaplain (1LT) Thomas Dyer — the Baptist-Pastor-turned-Buddhist-Priest who became the US Army’s first Buddhist Chaplain — led 200 people in a celebration of the holiest day of the Buddhist calendar while deployed to Iraq in May.

US military members from across Iraq were invited to the celebration and were allowed to travel to the base specifically for the observance.

The official effort the US military puts into allowing — even encouraging — its members to participate in the religious services of their choosing is significant.  Military members can take comfort in knowing that their leadership has their spiritual resiliency in mind and will, to the extent the mission allows, protect their free exercise.

Still, all is not without controversy. Read more

Army to Get Second Buddhist Chaplain

According to the University of the West, a Buddhist-founded university near Los Angeles, US Army First Lieutenant Somya Malasri will soon be the Army’s second Buddhist Chaplain (behind Chaplain (Lt) Thomas Dyer).

The Navy also has a Buddhist Chaplain; Chaplain Shin is currently deployed to Afghanistan and has been hosting Buddhist services there.

Shin also reported, courtesy of Chaplain Dyer, the Chaplain candidacy of the next Buddhist Chaplain for the US Army, 2LT Christopher Mohr.

Baptist Turned Buddhist Chaplain to Deploy

The Military Times papers have now picked up on the previously noted story about Army Chaplain (Lt) Thomas Dyer, a former Marine and Baptist pastor who converted to Buddhism and joined the Army National Guard (as published in the Tennessean).

The most recent article did have some interesting (and sometimes controversial) comments.  For example, despite the accusations that Chaplains can never evangelize, the article does provide the qualifier:  Read more

Baptist Pastor to Buddhist Military Chaplain

Thomas Dyer grew up Presbyterian and enlisted in the Marines.  Feeling threatened by the training he was receiving to kill, he left the Marines and attended Mid-America Baptist Seminary, eventually becoming a Baptist preacher.  His inability to find happiness as a Christian led him to convert to Buddhism.  Having obviously given up his job as a Protestant preacher, he joined the Army National Guard and was commissioned a Chaplain in 2008.  He will deploy to Iraq in January.

The article on Dyer is quite interesting, detailing both his wife’s reaction (she stands by him, though she hopes he’ll return to Christianity) and Dyer’s own lifelong search for fulfillment. Read more