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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chaplains Groups Differ on Prayer Order

As in the church in general there are dueling factions within the military chaplain dispute. What we see in the general church is conflict between the conservative church that views the scripture as the sole authority and the liberal church which is looking to make the church relevant in current society. So it is within the struggle the conservative chaplains are having in their effort to exercise their faith in praying in the name of Jesus whenever they are called on to pray.

The International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers Is asking that there be no restrictions on chaplains ability to pray in the name of the deity they serve. The military on the other hand feels that public prayer in command situation where attendance is mandatory must be "inclusive" so as to not offend anyone not of the faith of the chaplain who prays. The National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces is comfortable with this arrangement so does not support the effort by ICECE to have congress or the President force the Military to change the policy.

"This has been portrayed as though chaplains are not allowed to pray in Jesus's name, without any distinction between what they do all the time in worship services and what they do occasionally, in ceremonial settings where attendance is mandatory,"[says] Rev. Herman Keizer Jr., chairman of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces.

The Rev. Billy Baugham, executive director of ICECE, said he was surprised by NCMAF's stand.

"It will just lead more evangelicals to leave them and join us," he said....

Keizer said NCMAF sees nothing wrong with a commander asking a chaplain to offer nonsectarian prayers at such events, as long as the chaplain can decline to participate, with no repercussions.

But Baugham said evangelical chaplains must represent the church that endorses them for military duty, and "they are not authorized to give nonsectarian prayers." He also said he does not believe that chaplains are truly free to pray as they wish in worship services.

"There are chaplains who get their knuckles rapped pretty hard, and we have documentation of this, for praying in Jesus's name in chapels," he said.

The military wants to make chaplains into little more than councilors with this restriction. When we ask people to leave home, family and friends to risk their lives for our benefit, we cannot also ask them to leave their religion also. Those exposed to the prayers of other faiths or lack thereof can easily make accommodation in their private thoughts, but to ask a minister to compromise his faith during the exercise of his religious duty is to violate his conscience

see also:
Army Silences Chaplain After Prayer Criticism
Air Force's New Rules on Religion Called Unconstitutional
Military Chaplains Told toPray to God Not Jesus
Navy and Chaplains Still at Odds


Blogger Steve B said...

The thing is, Chaplains are clearly billed as "protestant" or "Jewish" and even "Muslim". If they are in an ecumenical setting, I've often heard the Protestant chaplain close with, "In your name we pray, oh Lord..."

Seems to be to be a good compromise. It keeps to the Christian tradition, yet leaves enough ambiguity that people can "fill in the blank" for "Lord."

11:03 PM  

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