Free speech for chaplains
mnewsom at law.howard.edu
Fri Jul 15 12:43:50 PDT 2005
I wonder if it matters that the military is made up of, more or less,
volunteers, not conscripts. I, obviously, think that it does. This
fact strengthens the military's needs for cohesion and weakens the
claims of volunteer soldiers to have religion their way, regardless of
the impact of their religion on their fellow soldiers, airmen, marines
and sailors. For in truth, the question is one of how to strike the
proper balance. I think that the case is easy, but it is an interesting
From: Rick Duncan [mailto:nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:37 PM
To: Law & Religion issues for Law Academics
Subject: RE: Free speech for chaplains
Sandy helps illustrate my point. There are some soldiers, like Sandy,
who do not wish chaplains to try to save them. They believe they are
just fine the way they are thanks. But there are other soldiers, perhaps
like I once was, who are searching for God and for salvation and want
chaplains to show them the way.
Perhaps we need both kinds of chaplains in the armed services, but we
should not allow one kind of soldier to have a heckler's veto over
chaplains who might be meeting the needs of other kinds of soldiers. Nor
should the EC be interpreted to allow the military to serve as a board
of acceptable theology for chaplains.
There are literally millions of Christians, like me, who bless the day
some one--often a stranger--explained the doctrine of salvation by faith
to them. Thank God for all the busybodies who took the time to throw a
lifeline to wretches like me! If I were a soldier whisked away from my
home town and perhaps facing death beyond the next turn in the road, I
would want a chaplain who would not hesitate to preach Christ and
salvation to me.
Sanford Levinson <SLevinson at law.utexas.edu> wrote:
If I were on a road heading for a cliff, I would want to be
told that the road I was on was bad and that another road was good. The
same is true of the spiritual roads I travel. If I were heading for
Hell, I would not want a chaplain to comfort me and tell me that
everything was fine and dandy. I would want him to help me get off the
wrong road and on the right road.
I confess that I think that Rick is right. In an essay
published in Wrestling With Diversity, I note my own childhood in
Hendersonville, NC, where some of my friends did indeed try to "help me"
in the way that Rick suggests. I obviously didn't accept the help, but
I did not in fact resent the effort, since I had no doubt about its
motivation (and, as a matter of fact, they didn't press the point once
it was clear that I was not going to convert). That being said, I still
resent similar efforts coming from those who are not my friends,
especially when if they occur in "official" settings.
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Welpton Professor of Law
University of Nebraska College of Law
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
Red State Lawblog: www.redstatelaw.blogspot.com
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