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Military chaplains told to shy from Jesus


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Military chaplains told to shy from Jesus

By Julia Duin


December 21, 2005


To pray -- or not to pray -- in Jesus' name is the question plaguing

an increasing number of U.S. military chaplains, one of whom began a

multiday hunger strike outside the White House yesterday.

"I am a Navy chaplain being fired because I pray in Jesus'

name," said Navy Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt, who will be holding 6

p.m. prayer vigils daily in Lafayette Park.

The hunger strike is intended to persuade President Bush to

issue an executive order allowing military chaplains to pray

according to their individual faith traditions. The American Center

for Law and Justice has gathered 173,000 signatures on a petition

seeking an executive order.

Seventy-three members of Congress have joined the request,

saying in an Oct. 25 letter to the president, "In all branches of the

military, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christian

chaplains to use the name of Jesus when praying."

About 80 percent of U.S. troops are Christian, the legislators

wrote, adding that military "censorship" of chaplains' prayers

disenfranchises "hundreds of thousands of Christian soldiers in the

military who look to their chaplains for comfort, inspiration and support."

Official military policy allows any sort of prayer, but Lt.

Klingenschmitt says that in reality, evangelical Protestant prayers

are censored. He cites his training at the Navy Chaplains School in

Newport, R.I., where "they have clipboards and evaluators who

evaluate your prayers, and they praise you if you pray just to God,"

he said. "But if you pray in Jesus' name, they counsel you."

Muslim, Jewish and Roman Catholic chaplains are likewise told

not to pray in the name of Allah, in Hebrew or in the name of the

Trinity, he added.

But the Rev. Billy Baugham, executive director of the

Greenville, S.C.-based International Conference of Evangelical

Chaplain Endorsers, says restrictions on other religious expressions

have "yet to be tested."

"No Islamic chaplain has been refused to pray in the name of

Allah, as far as we know. Neither has a rabbi been rebuked for making

references to Hanukkah, and no Catholic priest has been rebuked for

referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary."

The Navy allows chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus Christ,

Allah or any other deity during chapel services, spokeswoman Lt. Erin

Bailey said.

At other public events, "Navy chaplains are encouraged to be

sensitive to the needs of all those present," she said, "and may

decline an invitation to pray if not able to do so for conscience reasons."

Lt. Klingenschmitt has not been formally punished, she added,

and there are no plans to take him off active duty.

However, the lieutenant contends that he may lose his job next

month and be evicted from military housing. He says he got in hot

water during the summer of 2004 while aboard the USS Anzio for

preaching an evangelistic sermon at the funeral of a Catholic sailor

in a base chapel. The lieutenant said he was reprimanded by two

senior chaplains and, in March, sent ashore to Norfolk.

Lt. Klingenschmitt also has fought at other times for the

religious rights of non-Christians, having backed a Jewish sailor's

bid to get kosher meals and sought to include a Muslim seaman in the

rotation of sailors offering the ship's nightly closing prayer.

The lieutenant is not alone in fighting to pray to Jesus. The

Navy is facing two lawsuits, filed in 1999 and 2000, by 50 Christian

chaplains, saying the Navy discriminates against evangelical and

Pentecostal clerics.

Mr. Baugham said the 350 chaplains he oversees are concerned

about a new set of guidelines issued in August after complaints about

Christian evangelism at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The Air Force guidelines allow "a brief, nonsectarian prayer" during

military ceremonies "to add a heightened sense of seriousness or

solemnity, not to advance specific religious beliefs."

"So, to what deity do you address your prayer to?" Mr. Baugham

asked. "No one knows. And who gets to write the prayers? Once the

government becomes the approving authority, the poor chaplain is

forced to be an agent of the state."

Mr. Baugham said he had "just got a call from an Army chaplain

in Iraq who says he'd be hammered if he used Jesus' name. Chaplains

are scared to death. They must clear their prayers with their

commanders, they can mention Jesus' name at chapel services, but not

outside that context."

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These jackasses are so "ate up". Chaplains are supposed to cater to soldiers of all beliefs, and they are not supposed to promote their own faith. In other words, it's about the soldiers they are serving, not about them. This Navy guy needs to get back to taking care of his troops, and stop jerking us off.

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I disagree. In actuality, the chaplains are only supposed to serve those members of the military whose faith they share. Thus, a Muslim chaplain wouldn't minister to a Christian soldier, and vice-versa.


So what's the point of having the chaplains of different religions if those chaplains are not allowed to call on the God of those religions when in the company of soldiers asking them to do so with them? If there was one chaplain serving the entire armed forces, or if the chaplains each served a variety of faiths, then I could understand. But when you have a chaplain for each religion, each one is to practice that religion with those soldiers sharing that respective religion, and be allowed the full right to do so among those whom he is there to serve. Not among others - I wholly support the prohibition of proseletyzing among members of different faiths (and different lacks thereof) in the military and elsewhere - but ministers ministering peacefully among their own brethren should be allowed to do so without such petty restrictions.

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Umm, chaplians are there to serve military members of any faith.

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If a chaplain is working and in demand among soldiers of a seperate faith, then no, he shouldn't call on a specific deity of his own religion seperate from the soldiers'.


But, if he is working among his own religious group, then he should be allowed to pray with them as they do. That means if a Christian chaplain is among Christians (as is usually the case), or if a Muslim chaplain is working among Muslims, then he should be able to call on the God of that respective faith.


There are a variety of religious chaplains in the military. The four biggest faiths in the military are the most represented: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. A chaplain whose faith differs from that of a soldier requesting a chaplain is only called upon in that case if there is no chaplain that works in the soldier's faith available.

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"No one knows. And who gets to write the prayers? Once the

government becomes the approving authority, the poor chaplain is

forced to be an agent of the state."



Did the moron forget who is paying his salary?

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