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December 21, 2005

A religious leader who cannot be religious

Aren't chaplains supposed to be available for religious council of the troops? I'm sure that is what Navy Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt believes, as do the vast majority of the troops (about 80 percent of them are Christians, and a good portion of those remaining are of other faiths). Yet specific mention of God (and not the lower-case god; these mentions include Jesus, Allah, the Holy Trinity, or any other religion-specific term) is worthy of counseling. Chaplains are basically expected to be faith counselers for every faith. I know of no religion that would endorse something like that, and a chaplain of any given faith would likely hold a bias towards his own religion from the very beginning.

Now, I believe having ministers, priests, and the like available for our troops is an excellent idea. However, they must be allowed to preach what they believe. While there may not be enough Jewish, Muslim, or other leaders to cover those needs, why would a Buddhist look to a priest for divine aid, even if the priest were greatly trained in Buddhist ways or even general counseling? What can a cat teach a dog about being a dog? Allow the chaplains to give aid to those they can give the most.