Why Military Chaplains need to either Shut-Up or get out of the Service

Chaplain Administers Mass

Government funded religion

So if you’ve been listening to the right wing blogosphere, a lot of the military chaplains have been complaining that they will be unable to minister effectively to their “flocks” if open LGB personel are around.

Now there are several levels on which this is inappropriate, and so I’m going to talk about each one that I see.

Firstly and most obviously, the Chaplain Corps are a US Government institution, and enforcing the precepts of their faith on the troops in their care is a violation of the separation of church and state. Personally I object to chaplains in the military, both as a devout agnostic who thinks that its wrong to have religious figures on government payrolls, but also because I feel that its utter hypocrisy for the so called “Religions of Peace” (Christianity and Islam) to openly support warfare.

Secondly the US chaplain’s corp was meant to reflect the makeup of the troops within the military, so if you had 30% catholic 30% evangelical and 40% Lutheran, you should have 30% Catholic chaplains, 30% Evangelical chaplains and 40% Lutheran Chaplains. Up until the 1980s this was the case, but under the influence of the religious right flexing its new political muscles, the composition began shifting until today the Chaplaincy Corp is infested with a massive overabundance of fundamentalist evangelical chaplains. 14% of the Military is Evangelical, 60% of the chaplains are evangelical.

A chaplain administering sacrament

Literal or Figurative Sacrament?

Thirdly chaplains already have to deal with many “abominations” in their day to day lives, after all if they are an anti-ecumenical protestant chaplain, then surely any catholic soldier in their care is akin to a servant of satan. If chaplains are so fragile, how can they deal with the numerous variations and conflicts to their doctrine. Soldiers of every stripe from Buddhists, Atheists, Hindus, Sanataria, Wicca and Shinto are  represented in the US military, but apparently despite never threatening to resign over any of these massive conflicts, the idea of LGB service members is somehow a step too far.

Finally we all have differences of opinion, but priests and chaplains are meant to put the needs of their flock above their own petty concerns, so if a chaplain resigns rather than support their flock under new and potentially challenging circumstances, what worth are they?

So a good chaplain should put up with the new situation or get the hell out of the US military they are utterly unsuited for.