Friday, October 13, 2006

Military Chaplains


I noticed Debra J.M. Smith had the audacity to attack military chaplains recently. Of course, she is clueless as to what the MOS of a chaplain actually is. I'm going to take a moment to let you peak into their world...

Most people hear the world chaplain and think of a certain character from M*A*S*H. That character, who happened to be a Catholic chaplain, pretty much sums up what chaplains do during times of war.

A military chaplain is not just some preacher in uniform. Not only do they see to the spiritual needs of the troops around them, but they also function as non-combatants. They tend to the wounded, they help keep troop moral up, they function as counselors, they are the military's link with International Red Cross... which means that if you need to go home because your wife is having a baby, or if your spouse is a POW the chaplain can help your packages reach him... and they performs a variety of clerical duties. The chaplain also maintains the lists of those who are dead and wounded, and they might be the only person your loved one has to pray over that fallen soldier at the time of his death.

Now a days, chaplain is also a spiritual leader. The modern employment of chaplains is not in violation of the Constitution, because the separation of church and state is still present. A chaplain is not in the chain of command at all. If a chaplain colonel (a rank only) and an infantry 2nd lieutenant are the two surviving officers in an infantry unit, the 2nd lieutenant is in charge. The chaplain has no command duties whatsoever. The chaplain does not expect to even protect himself in combat, nor is he asked to serve his country with a gun (he may have a chaplain's assistant, who can carry a gun to protect the chaplain.)

A chaplain can be of any denomination, and any faith, and is trained to administer to troops of all faiths. In other words, a Catholic chaplain has no problems or issues with helping a Islamic chaplain, and if the Islamic chaplain needs help administrating to a Catholic troop, he can contact the Catholic chaplain, who can relay instructions to him. Chaplains of all faiths work together in the Chaplain Corps for the betterment of the troops.

This inept blogger goes on to say "Most true Christians would not want a military chaplain that prays to a 'catch all' god. But what many are not realizing is that some chaplains 'pray' in a false name of Jesus. Just because a chaplain says he is praying in Jesus' name, does not mean he is praying in the real Jesus' name." First of all, this statement shows how clueless this blogger is in matters of military procedure. I am certain she has never served her country in that capacity, nor does she know any heroes (military personnel.) ALL chaplains are ordained ministers of their faith (preachers, fathers, imams, rabbis, etc.) If a Christian soldier has only an Islamic or Jewish chaplain, that chaplain will encourage that soldier according to that soldier's belief system. The chaplain will further offer to put the soldier in touch with a chaplain of his (the soldier's) own denomination. If the soldier requests prayer, the chaplain will either pray with the soldier (in this case, he will pray to God.) A Jewish chaplain will not pray 'in Jesus name', but he certainly will say 'in God's name'.

A chaplain is a chaplain. Not all chaplains are Christian, just as not all soldiers are Christian. The title of chaplain is a MOS. An MOS means a Military Occupational Specialty, and it is for officers only. Again, the person is ordained in their faith.

The position of chaplain as it is today was not around in James Madison's time. You can see what the Army Chaplains are about at

GoArmy.com > Army Chaplain Corps > Overview. Each branch of service has a Chaplain Corps, except the Marine Corps (which use Navy Chaplains.)

I find her half-truths and lack of research disgusting. She claims herself to be a 'nondenominational' Christian. I question that she is Christian at all, for her bigotry towards our men in uniform and those that support them, leads me to believe that she has never taken the time to think outside of the sheltering box she thrives in. Bigoted points of view have no place in society. Her attacks on chaplains and other groups can be viewed at http://www.debrajmsmith.com/.

Update 10/15/06: I do find it amusing that people assume that I wrote this as a personal attack on Ms. Smith. This entire post is a clarification of what a military chaplain does, as well as how it is possible to have chaplains of all faiths. In a time when our military men and women need the support of our citizens, we do not need bigoted speech thrown at the one inner support system available to those troops in the Middle East. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's not all about Ms. Smith. Please forgive me for having to add these paragraphs as clarification. I am guessing that Ms. Smith's camp lacks reading comprehension, as they have elected to overlook the clarification of the MOS of a chaplain, and have turned this into a petty "Ms. Smith - Madison War". Considering that they have not bothered to read any of my bible devotions, I find their efforts to turn this into an attack on Ms. Smith laughable.

Ms. Smith should realize that, by posting misconcepts of this modern MOS, she opens herself up for correction. Since this is my personal blog, I will gladly post that clarification of the MOS as well as my opinion on her lack of knowledge of what that MOS is. I do not care if she has an opinion on the separation of Church and State. My correction is due to her statement, which is quoted above. Ms. Smith has long been known as being nondenominational herself, and intolerant of denominations in general. Perhaps she has assumed that all military chaplains are Roman Catholic, a denomination she takes great delight in abusing on her blog. As I stated above, chaplains are of all denominations and faiths. It might surprise her to know that there are nondenominational Christian chaplains as well. A chaplain who prays "in Jesus' name" is praying to the real Jesus. A chaplain who does not belong to a faith that believes in Jesus as we do in our own faith ("born agains", Christians etc.) ... such as a Jewish or Muslim chaplain... will inform the troop of that, but he will offer to pray to God on behalf of that soldier. If a chaplain is Buddhist, they offer a compassionate ear, but will not go against their own doctrine and pray to a god or God that they do not represent. A military chaplain does not insist (and can not insist) that a soldier from another faith convert to the chaplain's own. I restate: a chaplain of another faith will network with the chaplain corps in order to find a means to best provide for the soldiers in need of spiritual help.

One last tidbit: a military chaplain can refuse a direct order if it goes against his doctrine. God is put above the desires of generals and wars. A chaplain may be in the military, but he is separated by the cloth.

4 comments:

Thane said...

Do not bother to post a comment about:

1. Viewpoints on Madison and Separation of Church and State. You need to go back and reread the post you are commenting on. My post concerns the MOS of the modern chaplain (it was not defined the same way in Madison's time), and how chaplains of all faiths work together to provide for the spiritual needs of the modern soldier.

2. Hate speech about Ms. Smith.

3. Long copy/paste tidbits from online sources regarding Madison. Please refer to #1 above.

4. Posts about my family. C'mon, grow up already!

As a final thought... if we remove all the chaplains, who will guide our soldiers spiritually?

Anonymous said...

Those people never think of the big picture, Thane. It's a good question. Let's send the ones who want to get rid of chaplains! The government can post an add in all the church newsletters!


Position Wanted, Chaplain - non Military only:

Please, do step up as a civilian and volunteer to serve in Iraq, without pay and without medical compensation, in the actual battlefield. You may not pick up a gun, you must wear your cross symbol where every person can see it - which makes you a living target right now. You will not be fed (as that food is for soldiers and for Civil Affairs missions) and water is precious. You will not be issued a first aide kit, but you will be expected to stick your finger in a bullet hole to stop a person's bleeding, as well as pray while he writhes on the ground screaming in agony... even if he is a Muslim. You can expect to be taken hostage because you are Christian, and you can expect to be used as a pawn to infuriate America. You will not be issued a bullet proof vest, or a Kevlar helmet. If you are captured, you will be tortured for your beliefs, and it will probably be broadcast so your family can see you suffer. It may be glorious to die like an apostle, but are you committed to actually dying like that? You see, because you are not military, you will have no military training. You will not be assigned to a unit, you will not have an Assistant to protect you physically, and you will sleep with the soldiers in a GP large, medium or small. You must be already ordained, and must have experience in combat situations, either real or simulated. You must pass a background check, and a psychology evaluation. You must be able to administer to all soldiers of all faiths without overstepping their right to freedom of religion. You will go where we tell you, you will bring only what you need and can carry, and you may not use any military provided forums to keep in touch with your family. Because you are not in the military, if you survive, you will not be eligible for medical or monetary benefits, and will not be classified as a veteran. You will be given no medals or promotion, and you are not qualified to be buried in a federal cemetery based on only your voluntary service time with the military. Pay $0. No medical, no dental.

AnnieElf said...

Dear Thane. I read all of the above thoroughly and as a military daughter, military wife (retired) and Roman Catholic, I want to thank you for shedding light on a little understood job. I felt a cold bony hand wrap around my heart as I visited Ms. Smith blog. Annie

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