Unrepresentative Military Chaplaincy: Is This a Problem?
Last night, the Secular Coalition for America sent us the following statistics as part of its call for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to provide for the hiring of nontheistic chaplains in the U.S. military:
Some say that secular chaplains in the military would be beside the point, that religious counseling for the nonreligious would be like a visit to the doctor for people who believe that medicine is a sin. Why bother with such an oxymoronic exercise?
On the other hand are those who say that the very notion that chaplaincy must be a religious exercise is set forward in order to exclude the nonreligious. The SCA argues that when we think about the many nonreligious roles military chaplains play, it is downright discriminatory to require that servicemembers receive them through a religious filter. Another excerpt from the advocacy materials the SCA sent to Irregular Times:
Chaplains do much more than just faith counseling. They handle moral and ethical dilemmas with complete confidentiality not granted to mental health professionals. They listen to everyday fears and concerns, like missing your family. They also control a variety of administrative tasks such as requesting bereavement leave to attend a funeral back home. Still, the prime objective of the Chaplain Corps is to provide for the religious, spiritual, and conscience needs of the servicemembers. How is this possible when almost 30% of servicemembers are being ignored?
What do you think?