the gospel of “no pref”…

Posted on Saturday 30 October 2010

DADT is dead #6

Silly reason #39 not to repeal DADT: "Freedom of religion." A group of 65 retired military chaplains has sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates presenting what they consider an insurmountable problem if DADT is repealed. For some chaplains it will become "impossible to serve both God and the military."
    If a chaplain preaches against homosexuality, he could be considered a bigot.
Well, yes, of course. How is that different from a Catholic priest telling a woman that her abortion is a mortal sin? Should the military kick out anyone who has an abortion – or might have an abortion, both men and women – in order not to pose priests with a dilemma?

How do you minister in a pastoral way to someone who does not share your religious beliefs? That should have been covered in Pastoral Care 101. Is their military mission to convert everyone to their faith – or is it to provide pastoral care to all the troops and their families? And, if you can’t do that, should you be a military chaplain? … why do we provide military chaplains anyway? What’s the government doing in the business of having sectarian clergy on the payroll if they think they’re there "to save souls" according to their own sectarian beliefs?… They should be worried that the whole concept of military chaplains could be called into question…
big·ot [ˈbɪɡətˈ]

    a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own – religion, politics, or race.
    [Old French: name applied contemptuously to the Normans by the French, obscure origin]

How about ¶ Thou shalt not kill? I expect a Chaplain who preached against killing might only last in the Military for a few hours. But here is the essence of the whole issue, "Should the military kick out anyone … in order not to pose priests with a dilemma?" The argument of the 65 military chaplains is slanted wrong. Chaplains are for soldiers, not the other way around [Doctors too]. It’s really that simple. ShrinkRap has hit the center of this question – DADT is for the bigot not the soldier. That’s not right…

I am reminded of my own induction into the Air Force. I had filled out some form along the way. Under religion, I had written "Zen Buddhist." I’ll admit to not having been in a very good mood about the whole process that day, and was probably being a bit facetious – though it was the most accurate answer at that point in my life. I was called out of a class to go to the personnel office. It was about that answer. "Zen Buddhist" wasn’t allowed, I was told. It turned out that the issue was that it was for dog tags [with that second one for your toe in case you get shot or killed]. I tried "Zen," "Buddhist," "Other," and "None" with no luck. As it turned out, there were only a limited number of choices – "Catholic," "Protestant," "Jewish," and "No Pref." So I was converted that day to the gospel of "No Pref." It had to do with which Chaplain got called if I got wounded or who visited me in the hospital if I got sick. I later told this story to a friend over a beer, the Chaplain who came to the hospital where I worked. He thought it was pretty funny and we had a fine laugh about the silliness of the Military Bureaucracy. He had some really funny stories to tell too [I can’t recall them exactly, but one had to do with the ¶ Thou shalt not kill thing].

In actual practice, I was pretty impressed with the military chaplains. They were very helpful, and did what was needed for the person in front of them – independent of what the dog tag said…
    October 30, 2010 | 12:19 PM

    I wish you had brought this to my attention at the time. Do you remember that there was a guy on duty in the “admin’ area of the hospital all night (along with us ER types)? Well, he had marvelous machine that created dog tags on the spot and we certainly could have arranged for you to have dog tags that said anything you wished! Mine said “(Church of the) Inner Light Within”.

    October 30, 2010 | 12:47 PM

    I also remember being favorably impressed by most of the chaplains I encountered in my Air Force days. Usually they were very tolerant of differences and took their jobs to be primarily the pastoral care of the troops and their families.

    I remember being especially grateful for the presence of the chaplain when my next door neighbor and father of my daughter’s best playmate went down in a plane and died in a fiery crash. I have no idea which denomination he was. It simply didn’t matter. He provided what little spiritual comfort could be given to a young instant widow with two small children.

    October 30, 2010 | 3:05 PM

    Yeah. The chaplains were good. I wonder where those 65 retired guys came from. When I first read that, I thought, “What a good way to get the loonies out of the service!”

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