I’m going to make this a short note, because what I suggest is that you read the two stories (and even search for other sources) on this story and consider the issues for yourself.
First, in the Washington Post: Military Wrestles With Disharmony Among Chaplains. According to this story there are definitely some issues to be dealt with. There are places in the military where it is appropriate for a chaplain to be sectarian and places where it is not. No final answer is given as to whether Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt, who is on a hunger strike, was actually justified in his actions or not. But the issues involved in the military are examined, as well as the nature of the chaplain’s work. I congratulate the post on a good story.
Now look at this response: Dont Ask, Dont Pray; Jesus Gets A Dishonorable Discharge. Jesus is being discharged from the military? Chaplains are no longer being allowed to mention the name of Jesus? All the subtleties are lost in an effort to make this into a divisive issue. The difficulties of those of other faiths are not the concern of the writer. Terms such as “weaker, more timd Christians” as opposed to “practicing Christians” (presumably those who agree with the author).
Well, perhaps I’m one of those weaker, more timid Christians, but I’m not going to be timid in saying that the kind of commentary being made by conservative Christians (and you can find plenty more such commentary on the internet with a simple search) is not well considered, is not appropriate, and is not a good representative of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I especially dislike the statistical sleight of hand. We’re told that 85% of the country is Christian, which apparently is to justify support for Christian prayers in the military, following which we exclude the “timid Christians” who might not agree. Apparently I’m included in the group of real Christians when it’s convenient and excluded when not.
Christian chaplains can pray in Jesus name at appropriate, non-mandatory services. It’s not a problem. I strongly suspect that the reason President Bush has not taken action in this case is that the military is fully capable of investigating it, considering all the issues, and making a ruling. What is happening in the commentary is a simple case of grabbing the one, headline generating story of a hunger strike, and then assuming that the person who is yelling the name of Jesus the loudest must be in the right.
I rarely congratulate President Bush, but I can certainly commend him for letting the standard military process investigate and deal with this one. I hope he continues to have the courage to resist demagoguery like this.