Thursday, December 4, 2008

Army Chaplains

I may have mentioned in the past that I dislike Army chaplains. I have had nothing but bad experiences with all but one of them (and he was my unit's chaplain for about a week at Basic Reception). For the most part they tend to be right-wing, proselytizing, fundamentalist christians. I have nothing against these people per se, I am a libertarian at heart - but this is an official government position, and as I understand it, the chaplain is simply there to oversee the spiritual well-being of the troops, and offer advice as requested. I actually got into an argument with a chaplain the last time I was in Iraq over whether or not I was going to go to heaven or hell because I professed my atheism in front of him (we were on a mission and he asked me specifically about my beliefs).

I was at a conference a few weeks ago and an Army chaplain stood up and talked about how the Chaplain corps was attempting to find a place for themselves in the new doctrine of counterinsurgency (like counseling christian troops perhaps?) and saw themselves as religious mediators with the religious leaders in foreign countries. I was flabbergasted. First - BAD IDEA. There's enough of a belief that American forces are a second generation of Crusaders without fostering it by sending out Christian fundamentalist wackos in uniform to talk to them. Second - based on belief #1, it's actually a violation of Centcom General Order #1 - no proselytizing. (do you know how hard it is to actually find a copy of General Order # 1???)

Well, all right, it's a changing world, changing needs etc. But then I was reading this blog, which has a wonderful powerpoint demonstration of how Chaplains should be telling soldiers to believe in God, creationism, etc, in order to live a better, more moral life. I don't usually care about things like Ten Commandments in public places, Nativity scenes, menorah's, whatever. But the United States Army is an official institution of the United States Government, which is specifically non-denominational, and seeing as how many Chaplain's briefings are mandatory for soldiers (or made to look so), this essentially amounts to forcing religion on a soldier. That sickens me.

1 comment:

Momagain said...

Sounds like Chaplains feel a little threatened about their place in the military of the future. There was a place when everyone lived on base. And in time of war to provide counsel, as you said. But there is absolutely no place for them interacting with the local population in an "occupied" country. Is there any way to alert some clear-thinking legislator or high-ranking officer to the objectives of the Chaplains, especially the bible-thumping variety?