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Should the military ordain non-Christian Chaplains?
by Robert Randle
11/12/2011 / Events
In the Tacoma News Tribune, Friday November 11, 2011 edition, Section A9, under the section, FAITH: About a dozen apply for Chaplain status was an article by Matthew Hay Brown on the Baltimore Sun in which soldiers in the United States Army want to become post chaplains, although they don't believe in God. The main person of interest was Capt. Ryan Jean, who is an Intelligence Officer at Fort Meade, CA. Jean, who is an atheist, wants recognition as a lay humanist, on par with those religions who believe in a theistic God, such as Christians, Muslims and Jews. The reaction to such a request has been met with mere curiosity to outrage, and the military policy does not recognize atheism or humanism as a religion. If this form of discrimination occurred in the civilian institutions it would be challenged in the courts and found to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution, but the military is another matter.
It would seem prudent that since America is becoming increasing ethnically and religiously diverse, military chaplains should receive training to minister and counsel to the spiritual needs of all soldiers. Spirituality covers a broad spectrum of meanings and practices ranging from Native American, Buddhism, Zoroastrian, Confucius, Daoism, Theosophy, Wicca, Gnosticism, Free Thinkers, and New Age as well as the traditional theistic and Abrahamic faiths [Judaism, Christianity and Islam].
When someone is laying in a foxhole or in a hospital bed mortally wounded and requesting you to administer their last rites, it shouldn't matter what religion or non-religion they are affiliated with or if you even agree with their belief, but that you are available to comfort them in their final hour by showing compassion, sympathy and that you assist them to die with a sense of dignity and honor.
Even among Christians there is no universal consensus as to what constitutes "real" Christianity. Some do not consider Mormons true believers; nor Jehovah's Witnesses; Christian Scientists or Seventh-day Adventists and Protestants do not consider Catholics as Christians, let alone the differences in Evangelical, Fundamental and Pentecostal teachings and faith practices. However, the Bahai are a religious group that have a religious motto and display symbols of various faiths where they believe "Truth can be found in all religions" and would that such a profound and simple approach to the "Divine" can be practiced by everyone.
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November 11, 2011
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