Saturday, June 9, 2012

TEXAS FAITH: How should chaplains deal with Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal?

 Published on 12/07/10 at Dallas Morning news

The possible repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy has had Washington in a stir. The Pentagon released a report last week that showed that 70 percent of service members thought the repeal would have a negligible impact on their work.

Many military chaplains echoed that view. Only three of 145 chaplains who took part in a focus group said they would quit or retire.

But, as this Washington Post report indicates, some chaplains saw a repeal of the military's policy towards gays and lesbians as condoning a practice they consider sinful. The article quotes the Rev. Douglas Lee, a retired Presbyterian Army chaplain, as saying:

"There's a strong possibility that a chaplain wouldn't be allowed to proclaim what their own faith believes, and not give people the information they need to be a good Christian or a good Muslim or what have you."

So, with this situation in mind, here's this week's question:

How should army chaplains handle a situation that contradicts their religious convictions, whether it's about gays in the military or some other issue? They, after all, are called to minister to people of all faiths. 

In answering this, I hope you all can reflect upon your own experiences or approaches in counseling people whose values you do not share.

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas  

Let us resist the temptation to become the moral police of our nation. We have led the world in innovation, science, technology, medicine and just about every aspect of life and it is time we consider moving from restrictive religious convictions to universalizing our God who loves his creation. It's a new paradigm in broadening our moral compass.

Some of the restrictive moral convictions are a product of insular religious or cultural traditions. Indeed, they were practices with narrower applications.

Let's follow the path of Jesus by embracing the whole of humanity and lead the world in respecting the "otherness" of others and setting the model of co-existence for nations like Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan to emulate us and not vice-versa.

Once upon a time, white man made nearly all of our military brass but that is not the case today. Our military is served by both men and women and by people of different races, faiths, ethnicities and nationalities.

We have come a long way since the declaration of our independence to believe and live up to the full meaning of the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." It took us nearly 150 years for our men to feel secure enough to treat women as equals to vote. It took us 50 years to honor our World War II hero Jesse Brown, a black man. Three years ago, we finally came to grips with our smallness in denying a Wiccan symbol in the Arlington Cemetery. We still have a long ways to go in fully accepting that all men (and women) are created equal. Together as Americans we have to be inclusive in serving and be served equally.

When an individual opts to serve our country to defend our freedom, we must honor that individual to the highest degree and treat him or her with dignity. We should never forget that they are defending every American and not just an exclusive club. Those of us who serve them ought not to forget to reciprocate them with equal enthusiasm and unrestrictive honor.

The Army Chaplains are employees of the nation to serve the men and women who defend our nation, and they ought to serve every defender of our nation regardless of their sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, faith, language or appearance.

Please visit Dallas Morning News to read all the responses:

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog is updated daily.

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