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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Army Chaplains and their religious convictions

Texas Faith Weekly – Dallas Morning News poses a question to the faith community in Dallas on issues facing the nation, and about a dozen of us respond. Here was this week’s question by Bill McKenzie, “How should army chaplains handle a situation that contradicts their religious convictions, whether it’s about gays in the military or some other issue? They, after all, are called to minister to people of all faiths.

Here is my response followed by fellow Texans

Let us resist the temptations to become the moral police of our nation. We have led the world in innovation, science, technology, medicine and just about every aspect of life and it is time we consider moving from restrictive religious convictions to universalizing our God who loves his creation. It’s a new paradigm in broadening our moral compass.

Some of the restrictive moral convictions are a product of insular religious or cultural traditions; indeed they were practices with narrower applications. Let’s follow the path of Jesus by embracing the whole humanity and lead the world in respecting the otherness of other and setting the model of co-existence for nations like Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan to emulate us and not vice-versa.  

Once upon a time white man made nearly all of our military brass but that is not the case today; our military is served by both men and women and people of different races, faiths, ethnicities and nationalities.

We have come a long way since the declaration of our independence to believe and live up to the full meaning of the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. It took us nearly 150 years for our men to feel secure enough to treat women as equals to vote; it took us fifty years to honor our World War II hero Jesse Brown, a black man. Three years ago, we finally came to grips with our smallness in denying a Wiccan symbol in the Arlington Cemetery. We still have a long ways to go in fully accepting that all men (and women) are created equal.  Together as Americans we have to be inclusive in serving and be served equally.

When an individual opts to serve our country to defend our freedom, we must honor that individual to the highest degree and treat him or her with dignity. We should never forget that they are defending every American and not just an exclusive club. Those of us who serve them ought not to forget to reciprocate them with equal enthusiasm and unrestrictive honor.

The Army Chaplains are employees of the nation to serve the men and women who defend our nation, and they ought to serve every defender of our nation regardless of their sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, faith, language or appearance.  
Other takes -
Mike Ghouse
runs the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and has dedicated to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress. He is a regular commentator on the TV, Radio and Print media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker, writer and a peace activist. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
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