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Monday, July 11, 2005

For god and country?

Posted by: Jambo / 11:48 PM

Interesting article about the increasing number of evangelicals in the ranks of military chaplains. They're everywhere else these days so why not there as well. There were also a couple little asides in the article that caught my eye:
Certainly, the religious environment encountered by the chaplains is complex. Statistics on enlistees provided by the Air Force show there are now about 3,500 who say they are either Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, pagans, druids or shamans. There are 1,600 who say they are atheists and about 50,000 who say they have no religious preference, out of a total of 280,000. Roman Catholics number about 60,000.
No atheists in foxholes, but apparently a handful in cockpits.
Still, many evangelical chaplains say they understand the distinct nature of their work for the military, recounting in interviews that they have helped arrange Seders, the ritual Passover supper, for Jewish sailors or solstice celebrations for Wiccan marines.
For some reason I really like the image of a squad of Marines celebrating the summer solstice in a war zone somewhere.
Anne C. Loveland, a retired professor of American history at Louisiana State University and the author of "American Evangelicals and the U.S. Military, 1942-1993," said the foundation for the change in the chaplaincy was laid during the Vietnam War. "Evangelical denominations were very supportive of the war, and mainline liberal denominations were very much against it," Ms. Loveland said. "That cemented this growing relationship between the military and the evangelicals."
Of course it seems pretty odd that any devoted follower of Christ would be anything but a pacifist. But then what do I know, I'm a devout atheist. Tho somewhat ironically, an atheist who was baptized on the bridge of the cruiser USS Gridley with water from the ship's bell. Maybe even in the same spot that a young lieutenant John Kerry stood watch on his first tour in Vietnam a few years before.

4 Comments:

[I]t seems pretty odd that any devoted follower of Christ would be anything but a pacifist.

Of course, this is Old Testament, but:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1,8.

I couldn't find "I swear it's not too late" in the King James version...

By Blogger Joseph, at 1:17 AM  

Man, Jambo, your post has kept me up too late. I've been on one of those semi-random walks through the the web, mainly reading about Pete Seeger. One quick counterexample to the "Evangelical denominations were very supportive of the war" line: when I was a wee lad, at Lutheran Bible camp, we would sit around singing Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

I've had a vision in which I say to my mother "We had an enormous vegetable garden, and in the summer we went to camp and sang Pete Seeger songs. Were we communists?" And she says "No, dear, we were Lutherans."

By Blogger Joseph, at 2:06 AM  

It's funny what you learn attending Lutheran outings. I learned the words to Let it Be and how to French kiss.

By Blogger Hammer, at 8:31 AM  

I guess those SD Lutherans were the liberal wing of the church while those MN (or WI?) Lutherans were just plain randy. I don't generally think of Lutherans as being particularly evangelical, tho. Maybe I jsut listen to too much PHC.

By the way, I read recently that Porter Goss is really into organic gardening. Don't know why I felt the need to pass that along.

I've long had a theory that liberals tend to be New Testament Christians while conservatives tend to be Old Testament Christians. (Jews don't fit very well into this theory, tho.) Turn the other cheek and brother's keeper vs. eye for an eye, vengeful god etc. I also think you can divide the Constitution in sort of the same way with the Civil War amendments being the start of the new testament as it were. In both cases conservatives tend to resort to the old while ignoring the new. If I can ever work up the mental energy there might be a decent post in there some where.

By Blogger Jambo, at 10:18 AM  

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