Air Force sued over religious intolerance
Gordon James Klingenschmitt
chaplaingate at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 9 13:10:02 PDT 2005
Sincerely, thanks for your questions, Mr. Finkelman.
1) You ask how this Protestant minister could administer last rites to a dying Catholic Sailor. The answer is simple...we're both Christian, and I'd administer Christian rites. Although I'm an Evangelical Episcopal priest, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed as a Roman Catholic, and I remain a member in good standing today. (Although I'm not obedient to the pope, I share communion with him as a brother in Christ.) In the case of the memorial service, both the deceased Sailor and his parents agreed I was personally his pastor, (I had led him to a voluntary born-again experience), and therefore I was the right person to preside at his memorial.
2) You ask about Rabbis. Please realize, I advocated so strongly for my Orthodox Jewish Sailor's right to eat Kosher meals, I was disciplined by the Navy, and that's one reason they're literally trying to end my career (read Appendix C on my web-site):
Now members with the Jewish Welfare Board have written letters to the Navy trying to save my career. Read this article about my courage helping Jews, at risk of my own career, in the Jewish Week newspaper:
I love the Jewish people, I fear their God, and I'm grateful to Jewish Rabbi evangelists (like Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) who led me out of Gentile Barbarianism and taught me to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I don't have an anti-Semitic bone in my body. I owe them my very life.
I say this, to preface my (hopefully) gentle criticism of some of my Rabbinical brothers...I'm going to say some bold things here....but perhaps my personal sacrifice, risking my career to help the Jews more freely practice their faith, has earned me a right to speak.
Mr. Finkelman supposes that liberals aren't evangelistic, because they don't seek converts. Then why are they trying so hard to convert me? Some aggressive Rabbis, unfortunately, are violent in their efforts to silence Christian preaching (such as the Apostle Paul, before he became Christian). Men like this, even today, don't merely invite me to convert, they're forcing me to convert with government sword, now entering my chapel, with government power, to force me to preach a Jewish message, (rather than a Christian one), and publicly say Jewish prayers from the Old Testament (rather than Christian prayers based on the New Testament), advising my commanding officers that if I refuse, I should face military punishment, and literally end my career (taking food off my family's table) for quoting John 3:36, because quoting that scripture may offend some Jews! Really, does my quoting the New Testament in the Protestant Chapel make me anti-Semitic? No. But their response may!
persecutors are anti-Christian. They're coming after me, not the other way around.
The main difference between evangelism (good) and prosthelytizing (bad) is one word: PUNISHMENT. In all my sermons, I only invited people to attend, and people attended voluntarily, and no Sailors were ever punished by the government for disagreeing with my preaching. (My evangelism is by invitation, not by coersion.) But that's not how the liberals operate. When MY religious views refused to conform to their liberal view, they intruded upon my worship services, censored my religious speech, and called for military discipline of my faith, with the full weight of the United States government. So really, WHO'S PROSTHELYTIZING WHOM?
Some liberals (not all) use unethical evangelistic tools, such as slandering us with false accusations like "anti-semitic" and "insensitive" and "intolerant," then lobbying for government suppression of our preaching, because we're "disturbing the peace." These are their methods and tools of "evangelism" to silence us into practicing their faith. We evangelicals prefer more innocent methods...we advertise, we serve, we volunteer, we feed the poor, and we invite our friends to church, where we teach the Bible. My case proves that (some) liberals are far more aggressive prosthelytizers than evangelicals. And yet I pray most liberals, and most Rabbis, do not call for government persecution of the evangelical church, but you can't deny that some really do. Please go rebuke them, if you really believe in religious tolerance.
Now as law professors, as teachers of our future leaders, will you actually teach your students that government should agree with them, and side with Mr. Weinstein and Yale Divinity, and enter the Protestant Chapel to silence the chaplain's speech with military policemen? Sandy? Paul? Chip? Alan? I cannot think you really believe what you're saying. Please keep the government out of my chapel. Please.
I hope I've not been disrespectful to anyone. This is a very emotional subject for me.
Paul Finkelman <paul-finkelman at utulsa.edu> wrote:I do not understan why Mr. Klingenschmitt thnks "all chaplains are evangelists." Many Rabbis for example, are not trying to convince people of their point of view, they simply lead prayers; this is true for other faiths as well. Furthermore, in the military (so my chaplain friends tell me); chaplains often lead prayers, do last rites, and consel soldiers who are not of their faith. Since some spiritual leaders, such as Rabbis, emphatically DO NOT seek converts, they are surely not evangalizing when they provide counseling for peope other other faiths. I wonder how Mr. Kingenschmitt thinks a Protestant minister is an "evangelist" if he gives last rites to a dying Catholic soldier?
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