2/11/16 MRFF Demand Letter Re: Armed Green Beret Chaplains

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Patrick J. Murphy

Acting Secretary of the Army

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101


Dear Mr. Acting Secretary Murphy:

I am writing to express the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s great concern that Army Chaplains are attending assault training and even carrying weapons.

The Army recently posted an online article entitled “Special Forces Tab, Green Beret, SFQC – A Vehicle For Chaplains” (see addendum, pages 3-5). The article tells the stories of three Army Chaplains – Chaplain (Capt.) Mike Smith, Chaplain (Maj.) Timothy Maracle, and Chaplain (Maj.) Peter Hofman – who have completed the Special Forces Qualification Force (“SFQC”). While the article highlighted the sense of camaraderie with Special Forces soldiers these Chaplains claim such training fostered, it neglected to mention that these Chaplains are violating Army Regulations.

Army Regulation 165-1 states:

3-1f. Noncombatant. Chaplains will not bear arms in combat or in unit combat skills training. Chaplains function as protected personnel under the Geneva Convention and are noncombatants as a matter of Army policy (see FM 27-10). Chaplain activities in religious support operations will not compromise the noncombatant status. (emphasis added)

As you know, violation of an Army Regulation is punishable under the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While only Chaplain (Maj.) Hofman admitted to carrying a weapon, it can safely be presumed that all three of these Chaplains used weapons while participating in the SFQC. Consequently, the Army should punish this clear violation, rather than praising it as a “vehicle for Chaplains.”

This regulation is necessary for the protection of Chaplains, as well as all others granted noncombatant status, such as medical personnel. It is designed to allow, even in war, for the spiritual care of combatants and POWs. If a handful of Chaplains violate this very clear regulation, the enemy has no reason to honor the protected status of any noncombatant.

While these Chaplains apparently believe that going through SFQC and carrying weapons helps them connect with the Special Forces soldiers they will counsel, MRFF submits it will actually have the opposite effect. In the article, Chaplain (Maj.) Hofman directly compared his mission with Special Forces with the mission of Jesus. As if that weren’t enough of a problem, he did so while carrying a weapon. The chilling effect such conviction while armed will have on the willingness of soldiers to seek counsel from him can only be monumental.

Regardless of any benefits these Chaplains believe are received from completing SFQC and carrying weapons, the nature of the military is to obey orders even if doing so causes great risk to that soldier’s own life. We demand that the Army Regulations be obeyed and that these Chaplains be disciplined for their violations as required by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.



Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq.

Founder and President

Military Religious Freedom Foundation



Hon. Ruth S. Vetter, Esq. – Director, Standards of Conduct Office, Department of Defense General Counsel

Gen. Mark A. Milley, U.S. Army Chief of Staff

CH (MG) Paul K. Hurley, Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army

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    Sad to say, but the Armed Forces are not the only depts of the government at all levels that play fast & loose with the Constitution & the laws of the land nowasays..
    These 3 chaplains (2 majors & a captain) certainly are not greenhorns who can claim that they have never heard of such regulations!!
    They had to APPLY FOR THIS SPECIAL TRAINING among a host of candidates, so THEY WERE AWARE OF WHAT THEY WERE DOING!!
    They are frankly being deliberately disobedient to the rules… and should be given a dishonorable discharge for their behavior.

  2. Bob

    The US military is faced with limits of funds available for training. This seems to me to have been a waste of three training spaces better used for those who perform the mission.

  3. Yeshua Warrior

    Mr. Weinstein, with all due respect, but the Taliban, Al-Queda and ISIS do not observe the Geneva Convention!! This is not WWII where the warring nations did observe it, but even then German soldiers would shoot at US medics. If I were a chaplain in a battle zone like Afghanistan or Iraq, I would like to have a side arm to defend myself from those who would want to capture me. Here is an article online in the UK Mail where the Royal Navy chaplains who are assigned to front line units with the Royal Marines and commandos wan the right to have a side arm – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-495281/Navy-chaplains-want-right-carry-weapons-protect-Taliban.html

    Another case in point, chaplains in the Israel Defense Forces carry fully automatic weapons – https://www.quora.com/Do-military-chaplains-ever-carry-weapons

    As a military chaplain, I would rather go out a martyr for Christ, than to surrender willingly to Islamic terrorists who will chop off my head.

  4. tomterrific

    The higher-level people who permitted these chaplains to take the SFQC are just as guilty and deserving of punishment, if not more so than, the chaplains who took the course.

  5. retired

    This has got to be the most asinine letters ever created by anyone on the face of the planet Earth. Apparently the goal is to put the chaplains harms way and unprotected so ISIS can have more Christian martyrs. The chaplains should file a lawsuit against MRFF for an attempt to endanger their welfare and lives.

  6. G

    Retired, the chaplains put themselves in danger when they took the training. If they point guns at a someone, that someone is not going to have the time to determine whether that person is a chaplain or not. It is a question of you or I on the battlefield.

  7. G

    YW, it doesn’t matter whether terrorists chopped your head off if you are alive or dead. Either way you will be dead, so be prepare to meet God, (if he really exists).

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