We have enough Evangelism in the military. We don’t need any more.
Artist Martin Rowson makes this very point (click image for larger version):
(via New Humanist Blog)
Speaking as a former soldier, chaplains have as much place in the military as pedophiles in a daycare.
@Will – that’s rather strong.
I haven’t served in the military, but one of my family’s closest friends was a chaplain in the Navy. He was like a grandpa to me, and he was an incredible man. Sure, I grew up to be an atheist, but he was one of those pastors who was in it for the message of love and togetherness and wasn’t particular about how one found them.
I don’t think it’s a bad idea for someone (or several someones) to serve in the role that military chaplains now fill – I think the problem is that right now, the role is restricted to religious Christians. It might be a great idea to have, say, a counselor who’s available to talk to soldiers about anything – religion, personal issues, stress – like therapy. They could certainly be a religious person as well, but the purpose of their role would be to treat soldiers as people, not as Christians.
And if they were all as hot as Marina Sirtis, we’d have a lot more men join up.
Just kidding, but for the ST:TNG fans out there, ship’s counselor Deanna Troi filled the roll you are talking about. I think ministers are particularly unqualified to fill it because they have their particular beliefs that necessarily conflict with those of many under their charge. Instead of the possibility of conflicting views about some fundamental values, you have the absolute certainty of conflicting views.
Actually some US military chaplains are Muslim and Jewish and the Unitarian Universalist ones might not be Christian (and could even be atheistic). I’m not sure if there are any Hindu or Buddhist US military chaplains. The two problems I see are
1. No secular chaplains
2. Some chaplains place their faith before supporting the faith (or lack thereof) of those they are suppose to be serving.
I note that many US hospital chaplains have in their code of ethics a prohibition on trying to convert people they are serving (hospital patients and their families and friends). Most US military chaplains have a code of ethics that allows proselytizing of non-religious people (most of the rest have a code that allows proselytizing of religious people as well).