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01 September 2008


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Leila Abu-Saba encapsulated my thoughts on this matter pretty nicely, once you allow for the fact that I'm an atheist.

The one thing that I wonder about relative to military chaplains is, can't this function be secularized? I don't mean that there shouldn't be religious services or that there shouldn't be chaplains, but how does someone who is a non-believer get similar counseling? Are the psychologists or psychiatrists the only people they can talk to? How about having some folks, anti-chaplains if you will, who have similar interests in ethics and counseling but aren't religious?

The proselytizing bothers me, obviously. But chaplains in and of themselves don't, as long as there's no discrimination against particular beliefs or non-belief.

I'm sorry that someone took exception to your prayer, Col. Lang. I tend to take these things in the spirit they're intended. As far as I'm concerned, prayer doesn't help but it doesn't hurt, either. I wrote an article on Gustav at my place. I don't think it helped, but it didn't hurt either.

To each his own.

Not Gneiss

I've been curious about the role of military chaplains at abu Ghraib. Did any know what the troops were doing? If they did, what did they do or should they have done?

Do chaplains provide moral as well as psychological support?

Patrick Lang


The assumption that the US military does not have a lot of psychological and counseling services is incorrect and out of date.

The Israeli notion that combat veterans should be thought of as psychological casualties has successfully been "sold" to the leadership of the army. (I know nothing of the marines.) As a result of that successful sale, the Army is increasingly inhabited by the therapist driven world of counseling.
This will appeal to many civilians.

The problem that I have with it is that I think that there will continue to be a need for ground combat troops and those troops will require leadership that is combat experienced.

What will be the effect on that leadership cadre of thereapy that tells the people involved that they are damaged goods who were damaged, perhaps irretrievably, by the cicumstances of their metier? Will "soldiers" who are convinced by the system that they are victims of the Army still be useful leaders?

The Israelis have never fought a prolonged war against a first rate opponent. Their army is largely demobilized into civilian life after each short war. Their personnel needs are very different. pl

Tom Garshol, former MP

If you are a young soldier and are serving in a foreign country, or just a fresh recruit far awar from mom and dad and everything that is safe and quiet.

A lot of new impressions. New people. Different culture.

Things can be so confusing for a young heart. Having someone to go to for a talk or for help is important.

A chaplain can be a shelter. I am glad I had a chaplain when I served far away from home.

However. A prayer won´t help to find WMD´s.

A prayer won´t help to find Osama Bin Laden.

A prayer won´t undo Abu Graib.

Prayers and religions have their very clear limitations.

Though many in USA seems to believe otherwise . . . . . .



Col. Lang,

Thank you for the reply. Your last line--about the film--made me wonder if churchmen should ever be "officially" associated with gov't functions, including but not limited to chaplaincy. On one hand, I realize that chaplains have to administer where there are believers--including military. It seems that accepting military chaplaincy necessarily forces the clergyman to the role equivalent to embedded journalists, dependent on maintaining the military's goodwill to carry out their jobs. It would certainly make it more difficult for them to be critical of the military's actions in such a spot, it would seem....


If I had my way, I'd abolish the military clergy in ALL militaries in ALL lands. Why? Because most military clergy have sold out, selling the party line. Why didn't/don't they (OUR military clergy), for the most part, protest stupid wars like Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan?? But then again, EVERY country's military claims that God (or Allah or Jehovah or Buddha or whoever) is "on our side. And besides, an Army's business is to kill and destroy, PRIMARILY. Nothing holy about THAT.

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