(RNS) Humanists want a military chaplain to call their own

If Jason Heap has his way, he’ll trade his Oxford tweeds for the crisp whites of a newly minted U.S. Navy chaplain.

This is my chance to give back to my country,” said Heap, 38. “I want to use my skills on behalf of our people in the service. Hopefully, the Navy will see where I can be useful.”

But Heap’s goal is not assured. He fits the requirements”” with master’s degrees from both Brite Divinity School and Oxford University. His paperwork is complete. He passed the physical tests and has been interviewed by a Navy chaplain. The only thing he does not have is an endorsement from a religious organization approved by the Navy.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Military / Armed Forces, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism

3 comments on “(RNS) Humanists want a military chaplain to call their own

  1. Militaris Artifex says:

    There are two things I noted and found somewhat peculiar in this article:

    First, Heap speaks (literally) about the military “servicing” people with “nontheistic perspectives.”
    Second, Heap’s apparent inability to grasp that the purpose of a chaplain is pastoral in two senses that are at least somewhat distinct:
    • Counseling the service member with regard to that member’s conduct, behavior, and mental and spiritual state; and,
    • Mediating between the service member and that member’s understanding of what God desires from him or her.

    With regard to the first, I find the use of the word “servicing” troublesome, and not only because of its agricultural denotation, but also because I would never use it to describe what I expect a member of clergy to do in a relationship with me. Rather I expect my chaplain to provide a godly perspective and to give me sound counsel on how I ought to approach any situation on which I seek his counsel, and to do so from the standpoint of what God does, and does not, expect of me, insofar as that can be ascertained.

    With regard to the second, if one is non-theistic, between the service member and what entity does the humanist “chaplain” mediate? It seems to me that the humanist “chaplain” would be neither more not less than a psychological counselor in attempting to perform that function. For ends which the military services have psychiatrists and other trained counselors.

    I guess it appears to me that Heap wants all of the trappings of a religion, but one that has no God. Reminds me of a young girl that wants to be a Boy Scout, or the reverse.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer, LCDR, USN [ret.]

  2. Cennydd13 says:

    I don’t see a humanist ‘chaplain’ ministering to anyone in the traditional ways…..and there are many…..in which military chaplains interact with military personnel.

  3. Ian+ says:

    Why doesn’t he just become a Unitarian? They don’t care whether you worship anyone in particular or not.