Tag Archives: religion

Crossroads: “Hope for our Veterans”

We are delighted and honored to be part of “Hope for Our Veterans,” a three-part series organized by  Crossroads Cultural Center

Under Fire: A Candid Look at the Military Chaplaincy

April 24th at 7:30 pm at The Catholic University of America

(McGivney Hall, Keane Auditorium)

The event is free and open to the public   —  join us and spread the word!

Crossroads Cultural Center in Washington, DC, is hosting a three-part event that explores “Hope for Our Veterans.”  The first (on March 21st) focused on the difficulties facing too many of our veterans upon their return and it featured Nancy Albin, co-founder of a valuable resource and source of hope: the Los Angeles Habilitation House, which helps returning veterans suffering from PTSD tackle the sometimes seemingly unsurmountable challenges to reentering the workforce.

The second event will take place April 24th and will explore the role of military chaplains with excerpts from “Chaplains Under Fire” and a discussion with Chaplain Ken Bolin (who was an infantryman before he became a chaplain) as well as documentary’s editor, Andrea Hull, and director Lee Lawrence.  The evening will be moderated by Suzanne Tanzi, managing editor of Traces magazine.

Part three of the series, “The Arts and Military Healing,” will be presented by Smithsonian curator Jane Milosch on Veteran’s Day. We’ll keep you posted about the time and location.

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Humanity Explored Film Festival up and running

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 11.19.55 AMHumanity Explored Film Festival is up and running, and you can watch Chaplains Under Fire on-line as well as a number of other great documentaries and feature films.  And, please, give the festival your feedback and spread the word.  Thanks.

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 11.11.30 AM

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Chaplains once again used as pawns

Once again, military chaplains are being used to serve a political agenda.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is urging supporters to contact their representatives and urge them to keep in the National Defense Authorization Act language that prevents same-sex marriages from being performed on military installations.  So far, so fine.

But NOM argues that this action protects “the religious liberty of our military chaplains, who could otherwise be forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies as part of their official duties.”  Now, really.  That is simply untrue.  Military chaplains have to follow orders when it comes to their duties as officers, but when it comes to their religious duties they are never required to go against the doctrines of their faith.   Nobody can force a Roman Catholic military chaplain to perform a baptism by immersion if he believes this violates his religious beliefs, so you really think he could be forced to unite two men or two women in matrimony?  That’s what the “Provide or Perform” policy of the military chaplaincy is all about:  to perform for their troops those religious duties they can; and when asked for a ceremony or other religious duty they cannot perform, then they are to provide someone who can.

(Provide or Perform is one of the issues Chaplains Under Fire raises and is the subject of short in  Discussion Matters, the extra-features DVD)


Filed under chaplains, chaplains, DADT, guidelines, military

United Methodist Church screens doc

Jaye White  runs a program for the  United Methodist Church geared to encouraging congregations to reach out to military families.  As part of this outreach program, she showed Chaplains Under Fire  at the Haymount United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, NC.  Here is what she reports:

We had about 35 people show up for CUF at our screening in February. There were two active duty chaplains in attendance and three retired chaplains. All of the response was positive. One woman was upset that anyone would take issue with having chaplains in the service. One of the retired chaplains pointed out that chaplains are to assure that everyone has religious freedom. Obviously there have been problems at times, but this documentary addresses the issues fairly.

We are showing the film this Thursday, March 8 at Southern Pines United Methodist Church in Southern Pines, NC at 6:30 pm. FREE Everyone welcome!

Pass the word along to anyone you know in the Southern Pines area — thanks!

Back to Chaplains Under Fire homepage

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Where will tomorrow’s chaplains come from?

According to FACT (Faith Communities Today), church pews are thinning out and graying.  A survey of more than 11,000 randomly selected congregations of all faith traditions showed that, between 2000 and 2010,”the average percentage of participants over 65 has increased at the same time as the average percentage of 18-34 year olds has declined.”  Can’t help but wonder what effect this will have on the future ranks of military chaplains.

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Rep. Walter Jones speaks at film screening

At the screening for staffers at the Library of Congress, Congressman Walter Jones stepped up to the podium before the film and told the audience about the bill he hopes to get through Congress.  At present, the bill (H.R. 268) reads as follows:

“To amend title 10, United States Code, to ensure that every military chaplain has
the prerogative to close a prayer outside of a religious service according to the
dictates of the chaplain’s own conscience.”

The bill has come up before and not passed, but Congressman Jones indicated that he was garnering support.  So it would not be surprising if it were to come up again soon with no change.  Jordan Sekulow, a spokesman for the American Center for Law and Justice. told the audience at the Library of Congress that the ACLJ was working with Congressman Jones on this.  Since we weren’t taking notes at the screening, we contacted the ACLJ to get all the facts straight.  “ACLJ lawyers have been engaged in the best way to draft the legislation and helped craft the worded of H.R. 268,” according to ACLJ spokesman Todd Shearer.  He added that the ACLJ supports the current bill.

In the discussion that followed, two retired chaplains made the point the ministry in the military is very different from ministry in the civilian world.  Both vehemently agreed with one of the chaplains featured in the documentary, Ben Sandford, who stated that when he conducts a service he prays in Jesus’ name “and no one will tell me not to.”  But, he adds, “when I am afforded the privilege of getting on the ship-wide announcement system every evening we’re at sea, I don’t have the right to impose my Christianity on those who are forced to listen.  I came up with a little catch phrase that I ended all my prayers with.  I simply said, ‘now God I ask that you give strength to those who watch and rest to those who sleep.  Amen.”

In his remarks, the spokesman for the Alliance Defense Fund argued that military chaplains are responsible toward all the men and women in their care, regardless of their faith background.   He reiterated the chaplaincy motto “perform or provide” —  that chaplains should perform religious functions for which they are ordained and, when asked for something outside their ordainment, then they need to provide another chaplain or clergy who can.  A classic example is baptism: some denominations require baptism by immersion, others by sprinkling.  If a Roman Catholic chaplain gets asked by a Southern Baptist for a baptism by immersion, then he is to provide for the soldier by getting a chaplain who can do this.  Not that this is always possible in every case, as the retired chaplains pointed out.  In war, there just aren’t that many (if any) other chaplains around.

How does this relate to the prayer bill?  Well, we have to weigh the effects that it would have in the context of a military at war.  So the bill needs to be voted on by people who understand the needs of the troops and the delicate balance that military chaplains negotiate every day between their role as military officers and as religious clergy in order to meet those needs.   And if our representatives don’t have time to grasp what is at stake here, we have to do it for them and tell them how to vote.

endorsers wrestle with issues raised in the film

back to Chaplains Under Fire site


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