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8.30.2005    |    Pluralism with a capital "P"
There is a fascinating, and lengthy, article in today's Washington Post on the state of the chaplaincy in today's military. As strange as it sounds, the Post's article is actually rather un-(Dan) Rather-like; it tends towards the "fair and balanced." Tends towards, with the singular exception of its palpable hostility to evangelicals.

Back in the day, military chaplains were all called "Padre", even the Jewish rabbis. Chaplains came in only three basic flavors: Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant, even though some "Protestants" were closet Catholics (you know who we mean...). Their role was to bring comfort and preside over religious services. They served, to a certain extent, in loco parentis for young men who might not have traveled more than ten miles from where they were born up until the time they joined the military. It was all very vanilla and unthreatening, except perhaps for atheists. But they're going to hell, anyway... Sorry, just my feeble attempt at humor.

Today, we are informed by the Post that chaplains come in a dizzying variety of denominations. There are the usual suspects, of course. Mostly Catholic and Southern Baptist, but also all sorts of mainline Protestant and evangelical denominations, along with Muslim chaplains. Just like America, in other words.

The problem, according to the Post story, lies, surprise, surprise, with evangelicals. We just have this nasty habit of trying to save everyone. The problem is especially bad, according to the Posties, with the Air Force, which has allegedly fostered an air of intolerance, especially at the Air Force Academy (hey, it's in the very bleeding epicenter of major evangelical operations, there in Colorado Springs).

I do not know the extent to which evangelicals in the Air Force, or other military services, have been intolerant of those who profess other faiths. What I do know is that many in the Church of the Fluffy Bunny™ appear to consider Matthew 28:19 as optional for Christians. From the Post article:
Whether there should be any tacit limits on chaplains' free speech has also been an issue at the Air Force Academy. A team of observers from Yale Divinity School criticized one of the academy's ministers for urging Protestant cadets to tell their classmates that anyone who is "not born-again will burn in the fires of hell."
Well, if that's what we believe, how would we be loving our neighbor if we don't tell them? You may not believe that those who do not accept Christ as Lord and Savior will burn. Fine. But if you do, and you profess to be a Christian, it is your duty to share the good news. You do your non-Christian friends and colleagues no favors by shutting your trap about something, frankly, much more important than the United States Air Force.

As a sample of what one evangelical has gone through, read, in the Post, about Rev. Gordon James Klingenschmitt and his travails with the Navy. Rev. Klingenschmitt summarizes the situation nicely:
Klingenschmitt has accused the Navy of religious discrimination, contending in a written complaint to his superiors that he was punished because he refused to practice a "government-sanitized" faith that he calls "Pluralism," with a capital P.
Well, Reverand, I'll bet you did. I'll bet you upped and believed that we only go to the Father through His Son. I'll bet you may even believe that it is your Christian duty to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

I'll just bet, Rev. Klingenschmitt, that you believe that Jesus outranks even a four-star Navy admiral. Any takers on those bets?

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Blogger Gordon James Klingenschmitt said...

I am Chaplain Klingenschmitt, and the (incredible) details about how the Navy persecuted my evangelical faith are posted online at www.persuade.tv

Not only was I punished for praying "in Jesus name" and for quoting John 3:36 in the base chapel, I was also punished for requesting Kosher meals for a hungry Jewish Sailor (who later lost 17 pounds) and for resisting "government-mandatory church quotas" to a pro-gay church.

See the press releases on the left side of my home-page: www.persuade.tv

Please help me spread the word about this. Email Congress, sign my petition, and tell your journalist friends that I give free interviews!

Chaplain Klingenschmitt

4:28 PM, September 06, 2005  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.