Talk:Military chaplain

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According to the article, one must be "endorsed" by one's religious authority to be a recognized chaplain. With most religions, that usually means ordination. However, Muslim religious leaders aren't formally ordained, as Jewish rabbis or Christian priests or pastors are. So how do Muslims who wish to be chaplains join the Chaplain Corps? Surely this note should be mentioned in the article somewhere, yeah? --Micahbrwn (talk) 05:48, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Interesting and valid point: there is a multi-culturalist tendency to impose Christian models on other religions in the name of equal opportunities. Be that as it may, you ask a valid question. Springnuts (talk) 14:57, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

Endorsement is NOT ordination. Some Christian denominations do not use the term ordained at all, or even practice ordination. Several have a doctrine of "the priesthood of all believers," and instead use the terms "licensed" or "commissioned." They tried doing without a specially trained clergy, but found that not just anybody could manage a church properly. So they created a different set of terminology to avoid contridicting their own theology. Also, the Army's standards apply to all faiths--Christian or not. The Army requires a 72 hour M.A. degree in theology or religious studies. I cannot recall what the Islamic equilavent is off the top of my head and I am too lazy to look it up, but for me this means a Masters of Diviinty. (Aka: M.Div.) The point is there is an accepted Islamic version of this. An endorsement is simply a document from your denominaton stating that you really are what you claim to be. That you really are ordained, and you are authorized to represent the denomination within the military. All of this is simply a way of protecting the military, and their soldiers, from frauds and con men posing as clergy. As a general rule Muslim clergy are very rare in the U.S. military, and the Army has to work double (maybe triple) hard to find Muslim clergy that are willing to serve. When they go back home they are often shunned for having served with the armies of the "great satan." To my mind all of them are noble and fine people who are badly misunderstood by everyone involved, sadly this all to often includes people within their own faith. There is more information at the Muslim Chaplains Association website: The last I had heard in the entire U.S. military there are only 12 muslim chaplains. There may be other organizations that "endorse" muslim chaplains, but the one I am familiar with is "The American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council."

Rabbis are also rare. And by the way, "Jewish Rabbi" is redundant. As far as I know there are no other kinds rabbis. They also must receive some sort of endorsing document, just like everyone else. The only rabbi I have known in the chaplain corps so far was ultra orthodox, and the biggest problem for him was the Army's requirment that he shave. ... He was allowed a kind of close trimmed beard. For more information visit the National Association of Jewish Chaplains website

From the U.S. Army's website:

Chaplain requirements 1. You must obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement from your faith group. This endorsement should certify that you are: A. A clergy person in your denomination or faith group. B. Qualified spiritually, morally, intellectually and emotionally to serve as a Chaplain in the Army. C. Sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army. 2. Educationally, you must: A. Possess a baccalaureate degree of not less than 120 semester hours. B. Possess a graduate degree in theological or religious studies, plus have earned at least a total of 72 semester hours in graduate work in these fields of study. 3. Applicants for active duty or the National Guard MUST be U.S. citizens. Permanent residents can ONLY apply for the Army Reserve. 4. Be able to receive a favorable National Agency Security Clearance. 5. Pass a physical exam at one of our Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS). 6. A minimum of two years of full-time professional experience, validated by the applicant’s endorsing agency (This requirement is not applicable to Army Reserve applicants). 7. Must be at least 21 years of age at time of appointment. No applicants are accepted at the age of 50 or above. Applicants aged over 42 should contact a regional chaplain recruiter for the latest age waivers being granted for chaplains and chaplain candidates. (talk) 08:04, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Mark.

What abouit ...[edit]

What about the Military Chaplains Association of the United States of America? Philly jawn (talk) 15:03, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

This group appears frequently as an external link. I have deleted it every time as inappropriate - see WP:LINKSPAM. Regards Springnuts (talk) 15:02, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

Criticism of employing chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces and Congress[edit]

I believe the sub head needs to be reduced to just "Criticism of employing chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces." Also I think the comments from Hitchens need to be removed. If you read the law review articles I posted, you will learn that these are two separate issue. Chaplains for legislative bodies and chaplains for the military are separate constitutional issues, largely because of the "deployment" and "free expression" issue. There is less of a "free expression" issue with legislative chaplains. The comments from Hitchens only make him look ignorant because he has conflated the two issues together as most people with no military experience tend to do. (talk) 06:58, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Mark.

It is unconstitutional to employ military chaplains of certain religious faith groups who do not recognize the sexual rights of members of the faith group who are "only" married civilly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:13, 16 July 2008 (UTC) Such a U.S. military chaplain serves as an officer of the United States in TWO roles: a religious role and a secular role. Providing "secular" input (e.g., social work type analysis) to non-chaplain military officials (to include their non-chaplain commander, and others), on matters involving religious controversies, baits the Constitution. How can a Social Work type analysis pretend to be "Rational Man Behavior Theoretical" when the Faith Group does not recognize sexual rights of members of the faith group who are "only" married civilly?

Most commanders in the military have limited understanding of religious intricacies as affecting the behavior of their men. A married junior enlisted soldier, stationed overseas (with wife back in CONUS) may feel the need to go to his commanding officer to relate his concern that his wife back home is being "semi-shunned" by relatives and other members of their religious community. The military commander will invariably "suggest" that the EM "go talk to the chaplain" . . . If, by chance, the chaplain is of the same Faith Group as the soldier & spouse, the chaplain may very well support the semi-shunning. However, the chaplain will likely provide only highly filtered information back to the military commander (this behavior is symptomatic of Role Conflict behavior, which in such a case violates the U.S. Constitution). The only other recourse for the junior EM is to go to the local Red Cross official. The Red Cross may pretend to do Religious Social Work on behalf of the U.S. Government (especially due to the Red Cross's Congressional Charter to provide information to the military for the functioning of Government), but it is likely that that also could easily violate the U.S. Constitution when Church-State controversies are involved. Then of course, the military chaplain and the Red Cross may work in concert to accomplish some non-controversial outcome (which again, in cases, is likely in violation of the U.S. Constitution).

All material moved here from Padre[edit]

As per discussion page on Padre I have moved the material here - this does leave some duplication in France and UK sections. I will try to tidy when I get a moment. Springnuts (talk) 10:07, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Conflict With the Executive[edit]

This phrase sounds very strange to me. Is it British? (I served for 29 years in the U.S. military, 25 of them as a chaplain, and never heard of anyone referred to as "the Executive.") I'd recommend you change this to "Conflicts within the Chaplain Corps," or something like that.... Resnicoff (talk) 17:42, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

I have made some changes to this section, but would be happy to consider them interim changes, and discuss this issue. As I mention above, I served in the military for 29 years. The first year was in the rivers of Vietnam, followed by almost three years with Naval Intelligence. I then studied to become a rabbi, and returned to the Navy for 25 years as a chaplain. Following retirement from the chaplaincy, I was the National Director for interreligious affairs for a major Jewish organization (American Jewish Committee) -- but then accepted a one-year appointment as Special Assistant for Values and Vision, to both the Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force (at the "equivalent military rank" of Brigadier General), working with issues of values, but also specifically working with the issue of religion in the military

I share all this information because I think it is necessary for me to provide some credentials when I say that I have been involved in policies regarding religion and chaplains for more than three decades, including many of the recent "controversies.

With that background, I want to say that I think that the section "Conflicts with the Executive" is not in accordance with the non-neutral policy of Wikipedia. It presents arguments by some who claim the policies are unfair to chaplains who wish to express their beliefs, without at all putting those claims into context, or balancing them with the positions of the military leaders.

With that in mind, I have quickly (and my words probably need to be smoothed over and wordsmithed so that they are better) added a few comments, to include: - the fact that the LtCol you cited as being removed because of the letter he wrote would have been treated the same way whether or not he had been a chaplain. For that reason, I question whether he should even be mentioned. This was an officer writing to a newspaper without permission from the public affairs officer to do that. Chaplain or not, an officer should know better. - you mention that Klingenshmitt was reprimanded for wearing his uniform at a protest -- but you do not put that into perspective, by saying he was reprimanded for disobeying an order, since he had been ordered not to wear his uniform. Military personnel were allowed to attend, just not in uniform -- according to the military policy, which tries to avoid the appearance of military approval. - you use a long letter from a disgruntled individual as one of your "proofs" that the military pursues a policy of "universalism." First of all, this individual, based on the letter, doesn't understand the complexities of the arguments -- and, in addition, is not someone I would have trusted, since he admits that after learning he should not send materials that attempt to proselytize, he sends them anonymously! Chaplains carry officer rank, and so it is not a "level playing field" when one goes into a barracks and wants to talk about religion, because junior enlisted personnel are often afraid of saying they do not want to engage in that conversation. The government employs chaplains to support the "voluntary free exercise" of religion, NOT to use the power of the government or the military to proselytize. - The complaint of this individual, and of Klingenshmitt, in part focuses on what prayers a chaplain gives, or what a chaplain says, in non-religious programs or ceremonies. (That was certainly Klingenschmitt's complaint.) It is important to note that chaplains can pray in accordance with their own faith traditions in a religious ceremony. In a non-religious ceremony or program, the military does not tell a chaplain how to pray. Instead, it crafts the program to include a non-denominational prayer and then allows a chaplain who feels comfortable in offering such a moment of prayer the opportunity to do so. A chaplain who is not comfortable will never be forced to do so. That is the compromise that seems to work. (It should be noted that the chaplains who think they should be allowed to give strictly Christian prayers in a non-religious military ceremony are often those who would be most offended if another chaplain gave a strictly Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu prayer!).

This article references a discussion on controversies in the chaplain corps at another site -- the Navy Chaplains site -- but that presentation is very well-balanced. (It does not hide facts, and even mentions that the Navy's Deputy Chief of Chaplains was disciplined and will not be allowed to serve as Chief of Chaplains.) But it tries to put complaints into perspective, giving both sides, at least quickly.

My very quick comments tried to do that for this article. Again, they could certainly be approved.

Meanwhile, I'll go back to my first comment, from a few days ago, regarding the expression, "Conflict with the Executive." I've never heard that expression in the U.S. military, and recommend you consider changing it to something like "Conflict within the Chaplain Corps," or, like the Navy article you reference, "Controversies within the Chaplain Corps."

I look forward to continuing this conversation! Arnold Resnicoff Resnicoff (talk) 19:29, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Hi, yes the phrase "the Executive" is UK usage - in that Chaplains have no executive authority. By all means find better phrasing, not least as there is clearly conflict between chaplains as well as between some chaplains and some non-chaplain superiors. If the section is unbalanced please balance it, with the other side of the arguement (with sources) and by removing anything that is not properly sourced (see WP:RS). Re the "long letter from a disgruntled individual" the question is - what is used as a source for? If a source for the notable views of the writer, then it is fine; if for a balanced view of the matter, then not. I think in general Wikipedia doesn't take a view on disputes, simply presents both sides and any decisions taken. Thanks for your interest in improving the article: be bold and edit! Regards (talk) 19:56, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Resnicoff, it is invaluable to have someone of your experience here. I thank you for your input on the subject. May I suggest you read this rather dated thread on the unofficial British Army forums on the subject of "RAChD Convergence". This thread goes some way to explain the "conflict" that I assume is being driven at on this particular occasion. [1] --Panzer71 (talk) 21:56, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

Royal Navy Chaplain cap badge[edit]

This cap badge is different from a Royal Navy officers cap badge. It has a gold outline with a black fill in. [2] I have edited the text to reflect the difference. --Panzer71 (talk) 16:04, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

The black leaves are supposed to signify that the chaplain has no executive authority. Not sure I can source that fact though! Springnuts (talk) 15:30, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Correct. Unlike RAF and Army chaplains, Royal Navy chaplains hold no rank, but are afforded courtesies of an officer in order for the chaplain to carry his/her duties. [3] --Panzer71 (talk) 19:10, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

Noncombatant status[edit]

The article states "it is generally assumed that during WWII, chaplains were unarmed" but that, I think, must be "Western Allied chaplains" because I think I remember a paragraph of Walter Kempowski's echolot where a military chaplain mentions his gun without even speaking of it as something special. By the way, I think it would be discriminatory for the military not to let chaplains wear arms in self-defense just the same way as other noncombattants, i. e. medics, do. It should be, and is today in Germany, the ecclesiastical ordinary that requires unarmedness, no doubt for fitting reasons (the clerical state) but not for any reasons that are military commanders' business. -- (talk) 09:29, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

I agree to a certain extent. There are examples of Chaplains during WWII in the US military in particular posing with firearms. On a more recent note, British Chaplains of the Royal Navy attached to the Royal Marines have actually requested the right to bear arms for self defence. [4]--Panzer71 (talk) 22:05, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

Badges and insignia[edit]

The section on "Badges and insignia" says: "Chaplain's badges and insignia follow this general pattern (taken from the Royal Australian Navy):". When you go to the Royal Australian Navy page's section on "Chaplains", however, it says: "Royal Australian Navy (RAN) chaplains are commissioned officers and wear the uniform of a RAN officer. Like chaplains in the Royal Navy (RN), they do not wear rank insignia, but instead wear epaulettes with a cross-and-anchor insignia." If the "general pattern" in Military chaplain #Badges and insignia is taken from Royal Australian Navy, the latter page does not seem to support the said "general pattern". Eagle4000 (talk) 19:10, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

The whole section is a mess. If I get a spare month I may try to have a go at it :) Springnuts (talk) 22:06, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
For the moment I have been bold. [[5]]. Springnuts (talk) 22:10, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Should U.S. material be its own entry?[edit]

The U.S. coverage in this entry is out of proportion to the entry's global scope. There seems to be a need for a generic entry along the lines of United States military chaplains that would cover most of the U.S.-specific material now in this entry, especially controversies that are not specific to one branch, as well as general criticism of having chaplains and the deaths during service data. The insignia section is particularly too detailed for an entry called "Military chaplain". What do you think? Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 17:44, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

In general I agree. Springnuts (talk) 11:17, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Expanding role of military chaplains[edit]

This material is interesting. But there is another side of the story - use of chaplains in engagement is not universally accepted as the correct way to emaploy chaplains. Whole section is unbalanced and unsourced. I will check for copyvio. Springnuts (talk) 11:20, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Here's your source "With the NATO Kosovo war over in Kosovo and the rebuilding process begun...". It's quoted at length with a proper reference in the entry for Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff. Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 17:54, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the material is sourced - I have no idea why I wrote that it was unsourced! The topic is imo over-prominent in the article however. As I say above (but do not have sources for, or I would add it) there is another side to the story. I was trying to track down the original for the somewhat non encyclopaedic "the soft-spoken Conservative rabbi says ... " - but I am in a loop of who is quoting whom! Springnuts (talk) 17:30, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Well....."sourced" without a citation. And overly long. And one-sided. Looks like the work of the same enthusiast who's made the Rabbi's entry a fan page. Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 17:36, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
The Rabbi's article is pretty obviously an autobiography. Imo. Springnuts (talk) 22:50, 2 March 2012 (UTC)