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January 03, 2006

Starving Chaplains.

Stop The ACLU covers the Chaplain on a hunger strike over not being able to "preach without diluting God to a one-size-fits all deity."

When this story first broke, I made my opinion on this known - if he's leading services, he can preach as he wishes - if he's officiating at an official, mandatory event - I have no objection to "diluting God to a one-size-fits all deity." The chaplain may feel they being oppressed with that restriction, but I disagree. It's part and parcel of being a military chaplain. I've known Catholic chaplains who can run through the jewish death prayer (I can't remember what it's called) as easily as they can the Last Rites. A military chaplain has to understand and acknowledge that his ministry includes people from outside his faith tradition - and if he or she can't deal with that, then a military chaplaincy is perhaps not their calling.

However - it's one thing to tell a chaplain to be generic at a official event (a mandatory function) and quite another to tell him to be generic when holding services, and that appears to be the case here.

Klingenschmitt, an Episcopal priest, says he challenged the policy at the time, saying that Title X of the U.S. Code allows him to pray “according to the manners and form” of his own church. “And that’s been the law since 1860,” he said.

The chaplain says he believes the 1998 Navy policy illegally overrides U.S. Code.

“They called me an immature chaplain because I claimed the right to pray in Jesus’ name,” Klingenschmitt added.

The “immature” label followed Klingenschmitt to his first chaplain post on a Navy ship. Two years later, his commanding officer, Capt. James M. Carr, wrote to the Navy board, saying Klingenschmitt emphasized his own “faith system” when praying and preaching.

The chaplain says the same officer punished him in July 2004 for a sermon he preached at an optional chapel service.

“In the sermon, I said, ‘Jesus is the way to heaven,’” Klingenschmitt noted. He says he was told the next day: “You can’t say that if unbelievers are in the audience because you’re offending people, and that’s not Navy pluralism.”

In March, Klingenschmitt says, Carr asked the Navy board “to end my career. So I filed a complaint.”

Said Klingenschmitt: “It went into the hands of a Navy judge. My career was on the line. They were going to end it after 14 years – out on the street with no retirement.”

Just before his fast began, Klingenschmitt says, “The Navy stripped me of my uniform for all public appearances” that might include praying in Jesus’ name.

The Chaplain feels he should be able to do as he wishes in services, and that doesn't appear to be the case. An unbeliever, attending services? And the Chaplain is to be sensitive to that? So, if a worshiper of Set were attend a Christian service, the Chaplain should perhaps excise God as well? To what purpose and end? On the surface of it, this doesn't seem to make any sense, now that the story is more fully developed.

Anyone have the official Navy position on all this?

Update! Ah, my trolling worked! CDR Salamander to the rescue!

Sapper Sergeant has his own view up, and several links we're missing (and you can go read what he has to say if you'd like to see the links, that seems only fair).

Lastly, speaking of mistreating Chaplains and subsequently regretting it...