Tom Gilson

Too Much Religion in the Military?

There have been complaints about overzealous proselytization–even abuse–in the U.S. military. Brian Trapp comments:

The story portrays this to be a widespread phenomenon. For example, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation claims to have 6,800 accounts of this sort of abuse at the hands of Christians in the military. But a Pentagon spokesperson quoted says that there have been only 100 formal complaints filed over the past two years. Let’s crunch the numbers here. If the higher number is correct (and I do not concede for a moment that it is), then of the 2.88 million members of the U. S. military, less than a quarter of 1 percent of them have suffered abuse at the hands of these dastardly fundamentalists. If the lower number is correct, then it’s about .0035 percent. You will forgive me if I find the offended specialist’s remarks about those who want to “create a fundamentalist Christian theocracy” in the military a bit over-dramatic.

Meanwhile, from the newspaper in the next town over from here:

The shortage in Virginia mirrors the National Guard’s overall shortfall of 350 chaplains out of the 700 it is authorized, said Chaplain Randall Dolinger, spokesman for the Army Chief of Chaplains Office in Arlington. The Army Reserve has filled only 220 slots of the 650 allotted, he said.

The wartime needs of an expanding military are a big reason for the shortage, Dolinger said. Active-duty units without their own chaplain often request a Guard chaplain to fill the post when deployed overseas.

Guard chaplains not only accept those assignments, but are “double-volunteering” – accepting deployment more frequently to make up for the chaplain shortage, Dolinger said.

You gotta wonder if there’s a connection…

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