Amendment would let military chaplains pray as they wish

U.S, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill that would allow all U.S. military … Continued

U.S, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill that would allow all U.S. military chaplains, “if called upon to lead a prayer outside of a religious service, would be free to close that prayer according to the dictates of the chaplain’s conscience.”

The amendment would apply to the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force, Air Force Academy and Military Academy.

The Secular Coalition for America urged members of the House Armed Services Rules Committee to reject the amendment. “Rep. Bachmann’s amendment would force the military to change their regulations and allow chaplains to invoke the religious figures of their choice at official military events,” the coalition said in a statement.

The coalition noted 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in 1985 (Katcoff v Marsh): “The primary function of the military chaplain is to engage in activities designed to meet the religious needs of a pluralistic military community.”

Government-sponsored prayers have been in the news a lot lately.

Last month, when the Army withdrew evangelist Franklin Graham’s invitation to speak at the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer event, Col. Thomas Collins, spokesman for the U.S. Army, said “We’re an inclusive Army. We honor all faiths. … Our message to our service and civilian work force is about the need for diversity and appreciation of all faiths.”

Also last month, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell decided, “in the interest of religious freedom,” to grant state chaplains the freedom to pray in the name of Jesus at public events. “I just didn’t think it was right, the change that was made a couple years ago, to have an official state policy to tell chaplains of any faith how to pray, whether Muslim or Jew or Catholic or Christian,” Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporter.

UPDATE: Bachmann’s amendment apparently was ruled out or order.

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  • kenk3

    Why are taxpayers even paying for these chaplains? Every single chaplain is a fraud.

  • snsb18

    Rep. Bachmann is happy to have a Christian chaplain pray in the name of Jesus in an event where all military are required to attend. Of course she isn’t offended. I am just waiting for her reaction when a non-Christian leads Christians in a secular religious prayer — a Wiccan saying let us all now pray to Gia or a Muslim or Jew saying let us all now turn to the east (Mecca or Jerusalem). Bringing a Hindu idol to a prayer service and placing it on the alter would be a nice touch as well. I am sure that Rep. Bachmann would be the first to complain in Congress.

  • bdunn1

    Onward, Christian soldiers, blow ‘em all to bits.

  • jjedif

    All military chaplains should be required to read “The War Prayer” by Mark Twain…frequently. No one has ever expressed God’s love so eloquently.

  • Jerusalimight

    First Amendment to the United States Constitution:the government “…shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof…”Anybody who believes ‘letting’ the pastor choose his declaration of faith is going to save them from that amendment is an idiot.

  • Nymous

    Why must they Talibanize things. I get sick of this crap. There’s nothing good about what this guy is doing. As far as I’m concerned he’s acting as a hand of evil in the world.

  • jaxas70

    This is just another thinly veiled attempt in the name of religious freedom fo r people like Michelle Bachmann to have their own religious views presented at events where mixed faiths are in attendance.This miserable bunch of doofuses are forever dreaming up ways of trying to force feed their fanatical beliefs down our throats.

  • kreuz_missile

    You have a right to freedom of religion and a right to pray, but not at government expense and at government forums. Chaplains are given a unique position in the military because it is determined they serve a public good. Thatr comes with strings attached, the primary one being the knowledge that their duty is service, not advancing their own religious agendas at the expense of the needs of the pluralistic unit. If they have an issue with that, they should go back to their own church and not wear the uniform.

  • paris1969

    Now, does that mean Michelle Bachmann is in favor of religious chanting at the end and spraying the audience with incense and a call to lay flat on the floor and face the East? Or does she just mean it is okay for the Jesus people to say what they want?

  • huguenotklj

    Bad idea. Navy chaplains often say you know you’re doing your job right if you feel a tension between the collars (in the Navy the chaplain insignia – a cross, in the case of Christians – is on one collar and the rank insignia is on the other). This amendment would permit that tension to go away. By doing so, in my opinion, you make chaplains less effective at what they’re called to do, both by God and the State.

  • feslop

    As a retired military chaplain and a revival-preaching evangelical, I hope the amendment fails. Total freedom exists to say or pray whatever a chaplain wishes in worship and other settings where troops come out of free choice. Official events where troops of all or no religious backgrounds are required to be present and religion is not involved with the reason for the gathering (change of command ceremonies, for example), is another matter. That is not the occasion to hear Muslim sutras, a longing for nirvana, or even my own tradition’s call to entire sanctification. What I did find was that the less I whined about me and the more I paid attention to the spiritual and morale needs of all the troops, the more effective was my presence as a Christian chaplain in making a positive witness. This amendment, however well intended, is a license to bushwhack; folks on the receiving end of such treatment, whether physically or spiritually, tend to take a really dim view of the event…

  • wpc09

    Whatever the result of this particular proposal, the same rights must be accorded to all. If a Christian chaplain can pray in the name of Jesus and end the prayer in “Amen” at a public event, then a Baha’i, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, or Buddhist should be able to utter his prayer according to his tradition. Some people refuse to pray with me because they believe a Baha’i prayer is not to the same God and represents a compromise of their principle that only one way of praying – their own – is acceptable. Either all say non-sectarian prayers, or all are permitted to say the prayer specific to their tradition. Courtesy also demands that each treat the prayer of others and their spiritual motivation with respect.

  • MAL9000

    McDonnell should have the chaplains pray for him. He’s going to Hell.

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