Unholy Orders: The Army Maneuvers Around Religious Liberty

Now here's something to get steamed up about.
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Unholy Orders: The Army Maneuvers Around Religious Liberty

Post by Librarian » Wed Feb 21, 2007 8:32 pm

Unholy Orders: The Army Maneuvers Its Way Around Religious Liberty
The U.S. military continues to have problems understanding the concept of religious liberty.

About two years ago, Americans United exposed examples of preference toward evangelical Christianity at the U.S. Air Force Academy. More recently, AU attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Wiccans who want their symbol recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Now The Washington Post has reported that a former Army officer who left a Christian denomination to become a Wiccan has been stripped of his status as a chaplain.
Read more: http://blog.au.org/2007/02/20/unholy-or ... s-liberty/

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Post by Mahala » Wed Feb 21, 2007 8:45 pm

Talk about violation! Stripping status for religion is violating one of the Bill of Rights, I believe the first amend. The army nowdays... #-o

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Post by Ragnar » Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:30 pm

If he is no longer "of that religion" for which he qualified as a chaplain. Then their point is valid.

The "denial of religious freedom" comes when they denied his application to become a Wiccan chaplain.

But I seriously doubt that I would give him the chaplaincy either.

Because, to me, to be a chaplain of a specific religion is not like putting on a new pair of socks. It needs years of experience in that religion. Waking up one morning and "feeling slightly Jewish" does NOT make you a Rabbi.

I think the army have done right in this instance.

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Post by Jescissa » Thu Feb 22, 2007 1:44 am

Ragnar wrote:Waking up one morning and "feeling slightly Jewish" does NOT make you a Rabbi.
Agree 100% A grounding in one religion doesn't translate when you convert. Pagan clergy are very different from Christian clergy. Sounds like this guy wanted to be called Priest way before he earned the right to based on his previous knowledge.
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Post by SageWolf » Thu Feb 22, 2007 10:01 am

But a chaplian is supposedly trained to be all religions, in a war zone they have to be able to preform last rites, in Jewish Cathloic Hindue or whatever religion there is out there, they as chaplians are suppost to be able to do all that. That is what they are there for, did you know in the Christians society there are last rites that are different for prodistant babtists, and all the others, I think it's bs that he got stripped, cause well its' intolerant of his freedom of Religion. The US Military sucks arse anyway, and yes I can say that my husband is a veteran so.. No offense to those who actually like it.

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Post by Jescissa » Thu Feb 22, 2007 12:31 pm

SageWolf wrote:But a chaplian is supposedly trained to be all religions, in a war zone they have to be able to preform last rites,
"Larsen was serving as a chaplain in Iraq, representing a Pentecostal denomination, until about a year ago." Part of his job was to minister to any soldier that needed him, but he fully belonged to a Christian sect and was a Christian minister. He belonged to a Pentecostal sect that required him to report how many souls he saved. He reapplied to be a Wiccan chaplain...but one year as a practicing Wiccan does not equip you with the tools to be able to minister to other Wiccans. It takes more than a year for anyone to feel a true member of their new faith, possibly even longer than that to be fully versed in all traditions and rituals of the new faith.

I'm not saying that the guy wasn't a good person or even a good chaplain, but one cannot learn all there is to know about Wicca in a single year and then hope to minister to other Wiccans, many of whom will have been doing it a whole lot longer than he has.
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Post by SageWolf » Thu Feb 22, 2007 1:15 pm

Point taken but I still think that to be a chaplian in the Military then you need to know ALL religions, When I went in for my surgry last year the chaplian came to visit me and didn't know a prayer in Pagan religion, tho paganism is genralized he didn't know a prayer for my spefic religion, :lol: :lol: Honestly tho, may the Goddess bless you and watch over you while your under the knife would have sufficed, but he didn't know that, and Wiccian and paganism is yes considered a religion but they still aren't teaching the chaplians that, so I guess that is what Irks me, teach them a basic prayer for wiccians and pagans and I think I'll be happy with it.

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Post by Jescissa » Thu Feb 22, 2007 1:40 pm

Army chaplains can only become chaplains if they are endorsed by the faith group they wish to represent, so all army (and hospital) chaplains represent one faith, although the article says "Chaplains are expected to accommodate a broad variety of faiths. If a chaplain does not feel comfortable with a soldier’s religious choice, he helps meet that soldier’s needs in other ways." This means that they can't be telling soldiers that they worship the devil or they're 100% wrong by following a religion that differs from the chaplain's. It doesn't mean that they're knowledgeable on all faiths or have to perform rituals in different religions for soldiers.

If I was in hospital and the chaplain came to visit me, I'd probably wave him away! It might be different in the US, but in the UK, chaplains are strictly Christian and I don't agree with having any religious-types hanging around in hospitals anyway. Baptising dying infants so they can go to heaven is something I really don't agree with. An innocent child who has had no time to do anything wrong in this world certainly doesn't need a sprinkle of water to help her/him get into heaven!
SageWolf wrote:teach them a basic prayer for wiccians and pagan
That's the least anyone of any religion can ask for. It's traumatic enough to go under the knife, but to go under and know that there is a high likelihood that you could die without having a prayer in your own faith said for you is horrible. Everyone deserves to be represented in their own way.
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Post by Kitsune » Thu Feb 22, 2007 1:44 pm

I agree that perhaps he was not as knowledgable about his new religion as he should have been, when applying for a Chaplains position. AND I wouldn't have argued, had the government told him that his request was denied until he could present proof of learning and knowledge in the new religion. But to strip him of everything and ship him home, and not help him to get the knowledge that would have made the new position tenable... Well, that's discrimination. I didn't read anything in the article about the government giving him choices of where to go for the training he required... all I saw was a change of religion and... Strike Three, you're out of here! :lol:
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Post by Willow » Thu Feb 22, 2007 5:55 pm

I thought about being a chaplain...best drinkers in the Military here. But I became a ppacifist and that as they say was that.

All I can say is this is really interesting and there are alot of valid points, I will be interested in any follow up.
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Post by Jescissa » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:06 am

Kitsune wrote:But to strip him of everything and ship him home, and not help him to get the knowledge that would have made the new position tenable...
The only way to become a chaplain is to be endorsed by a faith (be that a church, or a whole organization) he began chaplain-ing as a Pentecostal Christian and was endorsed by them. He lost his endorsement when he converted to Wicca, so he couldn't practice as a Pentecostal chaplain anymore. What he should have (and may do in the future) is align himself with a Wicca group and have them endorse him to the military so that he can become a chaplain again.

I think the endorsement system is a good one, it shows that these so-called chaplains are actually affiliated with a real religious group and to be endorsed shows that the group they belong to appreciates them and thinks they would make a good chaplain. The guy would have known the rules when he became a chaplain the first time, so he should have known that when he converted it wouldn't be so easy to become a chaplain again.
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Post by Ragnar » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:34 am

Jescissa wrote:The only way to become a chaplain is to be endorsed by a faith (be that a church, or a whole organization)
Exactly. And we aint GOT one.

So how does he prove to the army that he is qualified to represent Wicca, or any other Heathen/Pagan based religion?

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i guess the navy is a little differant.

Post by high-tech redneck » Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:09 am

i have been on 2 ships . 1 cruiser and 1 destroyer. i am about to be assigned to my frist carrier. my 1st ship had a chaplin assigned to the ship. if there was a religion of a crew member that the chaplin was not familiar with the the ship would (for lack of a better word) patition a crew member if there where any of the same religion to be a (i don't know the spelling of the word) lealeader or layleader for that religion for the ship. his job was to make sure that the crew members spiritual needs where met or conduct services/rituals for them/with them. my second ship was a destroyer . the destroyer group had a chaplin or chaplin's assigined to it and they would be onboard during at sea opperations. but again .if there was a religion of a crew member that the chaplin was not familiar with the the ship would patition a crew member if there where any of the same religion to be a lealeader or layleader for that religion for the ship.

then there was always the issue of evening prayer. which varied from chaplin to chaplin. evening prayer for those who dont know is held at 2200 hrs every night just before taps is announced. but it is only done underway. some chaplins where very good at keeping the prayer as generic as possiable so that as many as possiable crew members would be comfortable with it.then there where those that did not do so well at that .


(just my point of view)
if somthing happans to cause a person to reevaluate they're religion then it is truely a change of heart . and should not taken with a grain of salt and striped of his status as a chaplin. his studys would change and a path of knowledge would be provided so that he may best serve the faith he represents. what the army did was wrong in every sence of the word. 1: they denied a man his right to freedom of reliegion. 2: they dismissed a officer with a clean recored for no ther reason other than he had a change of heart that caused him to reevaluate his faith. 3: they denied a faith a representitive and future leader in that faith.
(again this is just my point of view)

if yall are interested in what is going on in the military pagan/wiccan community you can go to this web site here. http://www.milpagan.org/
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Post by SageWolf » Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:43 am

I agree Redneck, like I said earlier the US Military sucks, cause of that. I think he should fight it.

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Post by Jescissa » Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:45 am

Ragnar wrote:And we aint GOT one.
Well, no. There is no single international pagan group, but there are local covens and local groups that could have endorsed him. The same way that people can be legally ordained to perform marriage rites, there is a way to legally recognise a religious group. All this guy needed to do was go to one of these groups and say:
"I'm an ex-Christian convert to Wicca, I have been a military chaplain for X amount of years and my record is clean. I can't continue to be a military chaplain because the group that used to endorse me doesn't endorse me anymore. Please would your group endorse me so that I can serve Wiccans and pagans/heathens in the military?"
I'm sure that legally recognised Wiccan groups would jump through hoops to endorse him and get a Wiccan chaplain into the military, considering (no one knows, but many suspect,) there are hundreds of Wiccans currently serving in the military.

I don't think this is a discriminatory issue, because if the guy had changed denomination it would be the same story. If he changed from Pentecostal to Methodist, he would still need a Methodist group to endorse him and could not continue being a chaplain until they did. The problem is easy to rectify. This actually harms ridding religious discrimination from the military because if people cry discrimination for the slightest thing it demeans the progress that a lot of people are making. It is discriminatory to not allow a man to have the symbol of his faith on his tombstone, it isn't discriminatory to stop a guy from being a chaplain when the group that endorse him no longer endorse him.
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