Just a thought

I’d like to not be categorized as either a supporter or a hater. I’m just a woman with a couple of thoughts. 

First, if there was really supposed to be a separation of Church and State,  why has the military always had chaplains? And those chaplains (now anyways) are versed in all kinds of different religious services.  So if we toss out the Christian stuff, we must toss out everything else.  Just sayin.
Second, our country was founded by people escaping religious persecution. Just sayin.
Neither s supporter or a hater.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
On Jun 6, 2020, at 2:47 PM, Mike  wrote:
Hi (name withheld),
We don’t categorize people; they tend to categorize themselves. And no one, if I may say so, Is “just a woman.”
What we call chaplains today has a long history. Well before the establishment of the U.S., armies and armed forces brought with them religious figures to tend to the needs of their fellow believers. Given the establishment of our country and of particular concern to the honoring of our now long-established tradition of separation of church and state, there was opposition to the idea of and need for a chaplaincy. However, it was determined, and has since been spelled out in law, that because military service can deprive some members of the chance to practice their faith at the place of their choice, in support of our belief in the individual’s right to the free
choice of her or his belief system, such establishment was proper. To refuse to provide such an option, it was felt, might suggest hostility toward religion rather than neutrality.
Many chaplains are, as you seem to suggest, sensitive to and in some cases knowledgeable about beliefs outside their own, but
that’s an individual’s choice. Beyond their specific religious calling, chaplains can sometimes act as counselors or care-givers. There is no desire on anyone’s part that we’re aware of to “toss out the Christian stuff.”
Hope this helps.
Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere
On Jun 6, 2020, at 11:33 AM, John Compere  wrote:
Thank you for your civil communication.
The US Constitution, American law, US Armed Forces regulations & US Army chaplain guidelines prohibit our secular military, as part of our secular government, from promoting or endorsing a religion except in military chapels & military chaplain social media outlets. Military chaplains may not proselytize their version of religion on official military channels (e.g. commander, unit or installation outlets) which are strictly secular. That is why the unlawful practice has been stopped by the military itself when complaints are received from military members & their families. Chaplains & commanders are advised & aware of this legal restriction & must obey laws, regulations & guidelines just like all military personnel.
Most Sincerely,
Brigadier General John Compere (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (over 80% Christians)

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  1. Old_ColdWar_MP

    In addition to the comments provided by MRFF board members…
    While I wholly believe the “separation of church and state” is particularly necessary in our military structure (and no less so in our civil structure) chaplains have typically received training enabling them to provide “therapeutic counseling” to members of the armed forces. In my experience, as an atheist, most relied too heavily on faith-based remedies, but I did find some of their counsel appropriate.
    There were times when performing my duties as an Army MP, that I was confronted with certain crimes (no longer classified as crimes today) and incidents of dereliction of pro-forma duty that could have ruined the career of an otherwise good soldier. These presented a moral conflict for me and my “by the book command” allowed no room for discretion (and yes, atheists conduct their lives according to a moral code). Additionally, during my time in service such a conflict of “cognitive dissonance” presented no other recourse for me except to turn to a chaplain – someone who was bound by their conviction to afford me an opportunity to discuss these dilemmas without fear of retribution toward myself based upon my decisions on how to respond to those incidents.
    So, while I never have ascribed “faith” to the worth of a person, I did, occasionally, find peace of mind with a chaplain. Doing so, with those two particular counselors, I was able to maintain my career – knowing full well that my decisions, in the moment, preserved the health, welfare and careers, of good soldiers.

    Nothing is so black and white that we can’t respond to the needs of others when nobody had been harmed. I hope you come to understand this idea and I hope that you recognize that MRFF is doing very important work representing my brothers and sisters in uniform – who are fortunate enough to have such representation when it was not available during my time of service.

  2. A.L. Hern

    “First, if there was really supposed to be a separation of Church and State, why has the military always had chaplains?”

    The military has always had cooks, too, but they are also not allowed to hijack the mechanism of government, or, more specifically, the military, to advance a private agenda.

    Chaplains are available for service personnel WHO SEEK THEM OUT, either in their chapels or on the Chaplain’s Page of their post’s website. To do anything else is to view and use the men and women under arms as nothing but a pool of potential converts, whether they wish to be converted or not.

    And THAT is WHY the chaplains MUST follow regulations and confine their ministering to chapel and Chaplain’s Page.

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