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November 17, 2005

Oh, let's have a juicy one.

But remember the rule: Attack the message, not the messenger. Passion without fire...power.

Jay over at Stop the ACLU and I had an email discussion yesterday, regarding his post on the subject of the ACLJ Protecting Military Chaplain’s Freedom To Pray In Jesus Name.

Rather than excerpt from his post here, go read it and come back. I'll hang around.

*Dum-de-dum-de-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum* Okay, yer back.

While Jay and I in our discussion (which I won't reproduce here, I'll let him state his case in person if he wishes) agreed more than we disagreed, but our major bone of contention remains the crux of the issue.

The Armorer will *not* be signing the petition. This does not make me anti-christian, anti-religion, or anti-anything other than anti-a$$hole. I am still not a fan of Newdow.

Your mileage may vary, and the Armorer bears no grudge against those that wish to sign. The philosophical tent that shields the Castle is many colored and flexible, even if, for some reason, most poles lean to the right, there are a few stubborn ones that do not conform.

From my perspective it's simple. Chaplains are soldiers. They are Officers, too. As such, like it or not, they have *Official* standing, and rules that govern them.

Freedom of Speech is a specific right that is *limited* for those who are in the military service of this nation. And the restrictions are greater upon the officer than they are the non-commissioned and private soldier. For good reason. I blog in part to express views I *properly* could not express when drawing full pay and allowances.

Chaplains have, for discussion's sake, three Voices. Personal Voice, Officer Voice, and Ecclesiastical Voice. All are subject to restrictions, in some form or another. As officers, we are allowed some latitude when speaking in Personal Voice - but always have to bear in mind (and herein lies a rub for milbloggers) that our Personal Voice is subject to the interpretation of those who hear it or read it - and if they construe that your Personal intrudes upon your Official, you can find yourself hoist on your own petard. But let's leave that aside and get to the issue at hand between Jay and I.

The crux of the issue lies with a conflation of Official and Ecclesiastical Voice.

I submit that when you are asked to offer prayer at a mandatory, or largely mandatory, public event, the Chaplain should speak in Official Voice and offer the most ecumenical prayer possible - without getting idiotic about it. To my eye, it is not unreasonable to ask a Chaplain to refer to God in a generic sense, and leave Jesus in the background (And let's not get into a discussion of the Trinity, either). This injunction includes Muslim clergy in the Chaplaincy, as well, no "Allahs". I know the Services recognize Wicca, Paganism, and even Devil Worship. I suspect among multi-theists there is still a figure from the pantheon that looms larger to an individual than the others - my point being, the use of more generic terms allows for greater variety among the people at that event allowing them to shape the message internally in ways that are somewhat less a stretch than when the only deity invoked is Jesus. As the Duty of a military Chaplain *requires* they facilitate the practice of faiths other than the one in which they have been ordained, I see no repression of their freedom of religion in the context of telling them to leave Jesus out of prayer at mandatory, non-religious-based functions, such as graduations, dining-ins/outs, award ceremonies.

A Chaplain speaks in Ecclesiastical Voice when she officiates at formal religious ceremonies, and there, not only because it is within her explicit purview, but is also voluntary (I think the Academies no longer make church services mandatory) all the appropriate trappings of a particular faith or grouping of faiths, are appropriate.

There is an event which does conflate the two specifically - Memorial Services for the fallen. Here, as a Commander, I would be frankly guided by the faith of the deceased. And if there is a mix, good luck to the Chaplain melding that, that's why you get paid the big bucks.

And if an individual cannot reconcile the conflicts - I would suggest that a military chaplaincy is not their proper vocation.

Anyway, that's my thoughts on it the second time around (the first post got eaten by a bug).

Discuss among yourselves.

No flaming individuals. Based on previous discussions in this space, this one might generate some heat.

Since, in order to have a focused argument, there has to be some agreed-upon starting point - the assumption here is that the Military Chaplaincy *is* a legitimate institution that passes Constitutional muster. If your only argument is based on the premise that Chaplains are a Church and State violation, hold your thoughts until *that* is the issue. That is *not* the issue here, however much you may want to argue it, to keep this thread somewhat focused.

I don't often delete comments, but get too far outta line and I will. One thing I, and many who dwell here like about this place is reasoned discourse, not moonbat ranting. Plenty of websites offer that.

First person to break Godwin's Law gets banned from the thread.