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Author Topic: Religious Symbols in the Army  (Read 1371 times)

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Offline Avis habilis

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2014, 02:06:11 PM »
My wife & I were married by an atheist Unitarian Universalist minister. There are UU chaplains in the military, maybe one of the could do the job in a pinch?

Offline greenknight

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2014, 02:23:02 PM »
http://www.goarmy.com/chaplain/about/requirements.html

So, do your ordained friends have graduate degrees in theological studies? Would the ULC endorse them?

Online Neysha

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2014, 05:35:14 PM »
It's apparent there are procedural hurdles to overcome such as those GreenKnight brought up but with Congressional power behind it. If a Unitarian or similar church cannot fulfill that level of theological legitimacy, we'll have to explore the options for a Humanist charity or non profit or service to fill that gap.

Similarly with the requirement for a theological degree,  maybe it can be modified to allow psychological or religious studies or counseling degrees or academic background instead for Humanist Chaplains.

The other major hurdle would be the ethos and mission of the military chaplaincy, which has God right in the motto. I have no problem with that though,  and it hasn't prevented the allowance of non-Abrahamic faiths to also have a smattering of Chaplains in service. So if Humanist ones get over the other hurdles,  it should still be fine.

The most important thing IMHO will be that these Chaplains respect the plurality of faiths like the vast majority of them already do.

As an aside, I've seen this discussion in military and debate boards and my own personal anecdotes I've heard, and generally the idea of Humanist Chaplains seems like a good idea.  Unlike actual counselors,  taking to a chaplain does not go on your record. Sixty I've heard plenty of stories of those  in the service typically have a neutral opinion or favorable one on chaplains in general so far. But having a Humanist Chaplaincy IMHO would be far better still, if only because atheists/agnostics/apathetics are probably the biggest religious affiliation in the services after the many flavors of Christianity... I'm guessing.

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2014, 07:41:11 PM »
*shrugs*  I only asked as I wasn't aware of what the 'gummint's definition' included.  Now I know - and knowing is half the battle.

;)

Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2014, 01:54:10 AM »

Similarly with the requirement for a theological degree,  maybe it can be modified to allow psychological or religious studies or counseling degrees or academic background instead for Humanist Chaplains.


Nearest I can tell Chaplain is a religious position, and soldiers will come to the chaplain with questions of a religious nature. I have no problems with humanists, but I believe the theological degree or major course of religious study is a definite requirement.

I find most ardent atheists I run into (as opposed to agnostics who I run into far more often), when confronted with religious questions, get prickly and defensive, or absolutist and aggressive. Requiring religious studies would ensure they know what they are dealing with. A Psych-degree is all well and fine, but does not cut it in religious matters, and not knowing what you should can lead to stepping on someone's beliefs.

Offline meikle

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2014, 03:30:13 AM »
Nearest I can tell Chaplain is a religious position, and soldiers will come to the chaplain with questions of a religious nature. I have no problems with humanists, but I believe the theological degree or major course of religious study is a definite requirement.

The issue is that the 'moral support' role is not provided for those who seek the sort of guidance a chaplain might provide in a non-religious setting.  Atheists as much as anyone else want to know that they're going to get through it, that things are okay, that there is something worth working toward.

If a Buddhist can fill that role for a Christian soldier, I don't see why an atheist couldn't.  You don't have to have faith to be comfortable with religious pluralism.  The actual duties of a military chaplain are related to morale and morality, ethics, spirituality, etc; every chaplain is expected to be able to provide support on these issues to people of any faith.  There's not really any reason that you need to be a member of a church to perform any of these functions.

I think there are people in the military who would like to have people available who can help them with these issues that don't approach them from a religious standpoint and also aren't military psychologists, and I think that a lot of the services that clergy provide in the military can be executed without religious affiliation or faith.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 03:49:08 AM by meikle »

Offline Dovel

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #31 on: February 04, 2014, 05:57:43 AM »
From my experience in the military I found that there was a great deal of religious freedom. I served with members of all faiths. The Chaplin assigned to us was one that covered many different denominations. I've never encountered one faith being placed above another.

As for wearing religious attire or beards. We were allowed to wear simple adornments, necklaces for example, as long as they were not openly visible or interfered with our safety.

Sometimes even wedding rings had to be removed because of safety reasons. The same reason applies to beards. Beards were once allowed but have been found to interfere with the wearing of protect gear, namely a gas / chemical mask. Take my words for it, you don't want to have a beard and have it break the seal on your mask. The same thing applies to long hair, earrings, heavy makeup, long nails, etc. I can understand someone wishes to express their beliefs but some things are just not practical from a combative standpoint.

Offline Torch

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #32 on: February 04, 2014, 07:00:40 AM »
If a Buddhist can fill that role for a Christian soldier, I don't see why an atheist couldn't.  You don't have to have faith to be comfortable with religious pluralism.  The actual duties of a military chaplain are related to morale and morality, ethics, spirituality, etc; every chaplain is expected to be able to provide support on these issues to people of any faith.  There's not really any reason that you need to be a member of a church to perform any of these functions.



Actually, a military chaplain (in the US Navy at least) is required to have an ecclesiastical endorsement from a religious faith organization registered with the DOD (Department of Defense). I'm going to assume that the requirements for chaplaincy in the Air Force and the Army are somewhat similar.

So technically, yes, you do need to be a member of a church, one recognized by the Department of Defense.

Offline meikle

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #33 on: February 04, 2014, 07:20:01 AM »
So technically, yes, you do need to be a member of a church, one recognized by the Department of Defense.

I know.  I didn't say you don't have to be a member of a church, I said there wasn't any reason that you should have to be a member of a church -- not for a position that is inherently neutral to any actual religion (since any Chaplain must be able to serve as a guide for any soldier, regardless of faith.)
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 07:24:39 AM by meikle »

Offline Torch

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2014, 07:22:59 AM »
I know.  That isn't what I said, though; what I said is, "There's not really any reason that you need to be a member of a church to perform any of these functions." 

In your opinion, there's no reason.

Apparently, the DOD believes there is a reason, hence the requirement.

*shrug*

Offline meikle

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2014, 07:25:04 AM »
In your opinion, there's no reason.

Apparently, the DOD believes there is a reason, hence the requirement.

*shrug*

This is ridiculously pedantic, you know.  Is your argument seriously that the rule is a good one because it's the rule that's in place?

Offline Torch

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #36 on: February 04, 2014, 07:27:00 AM »
This is ridiculously pedantic, you know.  Is your argument seriously that the rule is a good one because it's the rule that's in place?

You misunderstand. I'm not arguing at all. I have no opinion on the rule whatsoever.

I'm merely stating the DOD's position.

Offline meikle

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #37 on: February 04, 2014, 07:28:53 AM »
Okay... so you just wanted to correct me for saying something that I didn't say.

And then correct me again because I didn't put "IMO" at the end of my response.

Okie-dokie, Torch.

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #38 on: February 04, 2014, 07:31:07 AM »
I believe we can have this conversation without resorting to sniping.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #39 on: February 04, 2014, 08:02:59 AM »
Are there counsellors in the armed forces?  I ask because I don't really see a difference between an atheist chaplain and an entirely secular counsellor/therapist.

Offline greenknight

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #40 on: February 04, 2014, 08:10:23 AM »
I know.  I didn't say you don't have to be a member of a church, I said there wasn't any reason that you should have to be a member of a church -- not for a position that is inherently neutral to any actual religion (since any Chaplain must be able to serve as a guide for any soldier, regardless of faith.)
Except that Chaplain is an inherently religious title? What you advocate in removing the requirement of graduate level theological studies is the complete dismantling of the Chaplain Corps.

Removing the requirement of ecclesiastical investiture removes the chaplain's protected status under the Law of War. Even if the chaplain is now a psychologist, a doctor, he must now attend combat training and carry a weapon. And those chaplains who are still clerics must do so too, in violation of their faith.

And since the Corps's is now secular, its motto, Pro Deo et Patria, must change, too.

Screw it, let's dress 'em black, give 'em big ass skull masks to attach to their helmets, and really nifty baseball bat with bald eagles and shit all over it.

Yeah, the last is ridiculous, but the first two are very real consequences.

Offline Torch

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #41 on: February 04, 2014, 08:47:31 AM »
Jason Heap has applied to be the Navy's first Humanist chaplain.

I could find no outcome on the Navy's decision as of yet, but my Google-fu skills are poor at best before I've had enough coffee.  ::)

Offline Torch

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #42 on: February 04, 2014, 08:58:46 AM »
Are there counsellors in the armed forces?  I ask because I don't really see a difference between an atheist chaplain and an entirely secular counsellor/therapist.

There are licensed clinical psychologists in all branches of the armed forces. But "therapist" can be used as a rather broad term, so I have no idea if there are members of the armed forces serving in the capacity you are asking.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #43 on: February 04, 2014, 09:32:42 AM »
Mmm, that's true.  Let me clarify.  I'm kinda riffing off meikle's mention of "moral support" here.  Obviously a religious official has specific religious functions to give in addition to their pastoral care duties - only a Catholic priest can give a Catholic mass for example - and that can be set aside from the conversation somewhat. 

I'm wondering whether the other half of their job, the secular half talking about problems soldiers might be having, offering moral support, etc, is handled by anyone else as well.  Because that seems to be where the division lays - if soldiers can obtain that support from another route and its just some prefer to talk to a priest (rabbi/imam/etc.) about it then there seems to be little need for an atheist chaplain.  But if that secular pastoral care is exclusively provided by the chaplain corps, then it makes good sense to have atheistic (humanist/etc.) chaplains to provide that service for the irreligious.

EDIT:  In essence the question is "Are chaplains the sole route of providing some non-religious services to soldiers"
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 09:34:03 AM by Kythia »

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #44 on: February 04, 2014, 09:56:13 AM »
From personal experience here...

My ex husband was/is an alcoholic. He managed to get a DUI while active duty. Part of what the army did as repercussion was put him through twelve weeks rehabilitation. His company commander and chaplain then came to me to ask that I participate in the program counseling as well as further counseling outside of the program to help my ex. The program itself had psychologists and such that counseled those in the program but the chaplain was there to assist as well.

So, based on my experience, I am pretty sure there are other avenues available to service members - however, as my father told me the day my ex joined the military. "The Chaplain is the go between. If something needs to be done, the Chaplain is the one to see."

Online Neysha

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #45 on: February 04, 2014, 10:05:54 AM »
Are there counsellors in the armed forces?  I ask because I don't really see a difference between an atheist chaplain and an entirely secular counsellor/therapist.

There are military psychologists, BUT the caveat is that if you're taking counseling sessions, it's on your military record for better or worse. Needless to say, there is a stigma there. With Chaplains, you can freely approach them without the record keeping.

Offline meikle

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #46 on: February 04, 2014, 11:22:26 AM »
Except that Chaplain is an inherently religious title? What you advocate in removing the requirement of graduate level theological studies is the complete dismantling of the Chaplain Corps.

It's probably a good thing I'm not at all advocating removing the educational requirements.  You do not have to be a member of a church to study religion academically.  Secular religious studies education is sufficient to fulfill the educational requirement as it already stands.

Quote
Removing the requirement of ecclesiastical investiture removes the chaplain's protected status under the Law of War. Even if the chaplain is now a psychologist, a doctor, he must now attend combat training and carry a weapon. And those chaplains who are still clerics must do so too, in violation of their faith.

And since the Corps's is now secular, its motto, Pro Deo et Patria, must change, too.

Well, the military makes its own rules (and sometimes the civilian government makes rules for them too, I guess).  There's nothing to stop them determining that the chaplain is a non-combat role and continuing to keep guns out of their hands / continue to put them directly into officer training and never put them into basic training.  Chaplains who are part of a church don't cease to be part of one just because they're in the military.  You don't need to be a psychologist or a doctor; an atheist with a graduate degree in religious study should do the trick.

I do not care if the chaplaincy has to take god out of their motto, but you know, our government is non-denominational and pluralistic and atheist-ok that doesn't stop us stamping IN GOD WE TRUST on everything.  It's not as if every faith that is represented in the chaplaincy as it has a singular Deo in mind as it is.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 11:36:27 AM by meikle »

Online Neysha

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #47 on: February 04, 2014, 02:11:05 PM »
Our government isn't atheist, it's interpreted as being secular.

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Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #48 on: February 04, 2014, 02:58:40 PM »
I do not care if the chaplaincy has to take god out of their motto, but you know, our government is non-denominational and pluralistic and atheist-ok that doesn't stop us stamping IN GOD WE TRUST on everything.

I have always felt that the "In God We Trust" motto is more of a metaphor to convey that our rights as free persons are self-evident, or empirically obvious.  'God' is being used to represent this natural, biological, non-institutional realization of liberty and free-choice for all.  In other words, our rights are fundamental, and it is not the government that is granting us those rights.

Offline meikle

Re: Religious Symbols in the Army
« Reply #49 on: February 04, 2014, 03:25:10 PM »
Our government isn't atheist, it's interpreted as being secular.
That's atheist-OK as in "atheist friendly," sorry if I was unclear.

I have always felt that the "In God We Trust" motto is more of a metaphor to convey that our rights as free persons are self-evident, or empirically obvious.  'God' is being used to represent this natural, biological, non-institutional realization of liberty and free-choice for all.  In other words, our rights are fundamental, and it is not the government that is granting us those rights.
That might be so!  There's a lot of other godly things going on that are probably less benign.  I'm not actually upset about the motto on money, like it's not a huge issue.  I don't strictly like it but all things considered there are probably more important things to go to task over. 

On the other hand, "For God and Country" certainly has a more openly religious bent (but, to be expected, given that it's the chaplaincy.)  My point isn't really that the chaplaincy needs to be overhauled to be secular, just that it should be considered whether a chaplain's duties actually demand a religious affiliation or if that's more traditional than functional.

(If you caught this before the edit, I had the changes to the Pledge of Allegiance in mind, whoops.)
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 03:34:23 PM by meikle »