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Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts
Army chaplain Darren Turner, left, wound up quitting the Army for a spell after returning home from Iraq.
May 26th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts

Editor’s note: CNN.com writer Moni Basu is author of “Chaplain Turner's War,” published by Agate Digital.

By Moni Basu, CNN

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) - Darren Turner insisted on going to war, even though the Army usually reserves desk jobs at home for new chaplains like him.

Turner was young and green, enthusiastic about taking God to the battlefield. The Army captain had learned that people in pain are often wide-open to inviting God into their lives.

Jesus always ran to crises. Turner was going to do the same.

He’d enrolled in seminary in 2004 at Regent University in Virginia, founded by evangelist Pat Robertson. And early in his spiritual journey, he was inspired by Christian writer John Eldredge, who suggests that American men have abandoned the stuff of heroic dreams, aided by a Christianity that tells them to be "nice guys."

God, says Eldredge, designed men to be daring, even dangerous.

Turner arrived in Iraq in May 2007 with the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment amid a raging insurgency. His soldiers faced an invisible but lethal enemy in booby-trapped houses and roads laced with massive bombs.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Chaplain Turner’s war would unfold on many fronts. He would be a soldier on the battlefield. A counselor behind closed doors. He was a friend, even a father, to his men.

And when his 15-month tour was over, Turner returned home to face all the problems he had counseled his soldiers about: anger, depression, stress and – most important for him – preserving relationships with loved ones.

Nearly 4,500 American troops died in the Iraq war. More than 30,000 more were physically wounded. Countless others live with scars that can't be seen, like post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injury. Many have struggled with regaining their lives at home.

Darren Turner counsels a soldier inside a sleeping container at Patrol Base Hawkes, southeast of Baghdad.

Turner had recognized the needs his soldiers would have after witnessing the horrors of combat, after losing friends.

In Iraq, he had comforted and advised soldiers at Forward Operating Base Falcon, in southeastern Baghdad, and in the combat outposts around the villages of Arab Jabour.

Preparing clergy for war: How chaplains train for combat

At Falcon, the Army provided a morale phone that allowed soldiers to make free 15-minute calls home. But Turner knew it wasn't enough. He carried a cell phone in the left shoulder pocket of his uniform and whipped it out whenever a soldier signaled domestic distress at home.

"Call her," he would say. "Call her now and tell her you love her."

When they returned to Georgia in the summer of 2008, Turner told his soldiers that their families would be their cushion. He knew his men were suffering; that the ghosts of Iraq would haunt them, maybe for the rest of their lives.

What he did not know then was that he would not himself be immune to the same threats. He neglected to heed his own advice and his life floundered.

I’d spent many weeks with Turner in Iraq for a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but I didn't know about his troubles until I drove up to meet him and his wife, Heather, earlier this year at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

An exhausted Darren Turner catches a nap at his desk inside his tent at Forward Operating Base Falcon near Baghdad.

On that rainy February day, Turner told me that he’d come back from Iraq and felt like the bomb defuser in the movie "The Hurt Locker," who goes into a grocery store and is overwhelmed by the mesmerizing variety of cereals.

Remembering the fallen: Learn about casualties

It was a lot to process after having few choices in Iraq. Reverse culture shock.

"I wanted everything in there but I wasn't sure what to buy," Turner said.

He also detected a lack of public concern for the men and women fighting overseas. Off post, people went about their lives without a real understanding of the sacrifices made by American service members.

At first the anger boiled inside. But then it began to surface. He took it out on Heather. It was a release so that he could keep his work as normal as possible.

Little things like arranging the dishwasher became big fights with Heather. Big things like Heather’s life plans became small issues that Turner mocked or discounted because they did not fit his own plans.

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"I came home angry," Turner told me. "Even my attitude, which I thought I was in control of, was walling me in. I didn't realize it until my wife told me, 'You're no longer welcome in our house.'"

During the deployment in Iraq, Turner had pined for Heather and his three young children, Elie, Sam and Meribeth. Now, he was losing them.

"The thing I was angry at was the very thing I was longing for during my deployment - my family," he said.

Heather said her husband was disengaged, impatient. She wanted them to seek counseling but Turner refused, insisting that she was the one who had issues.

Just a few months after his return from Iraq, Darren and Heather Turner separated.

“I was very selfish and tried to control my surroundings, which crushed those closest to me,” Turner said.

Turner eventually realized how much he had hurt his wife, he said. How he had stepped away from God's calling by failing those he cared about most.

After finishing Airborne School, he quit the Army in August 2009, believing the military would demand too much time away from his family at a critical juncture in their lives.

He took a job in sales at a Home Depot not far from his house in Dacula, Georgia. He struggled to mend his marriage and reconnect with his faith.

Four months later, Turner and his wife reconciled. He chose to return to the Army as a chaplain, he said, "a renewed man both in marriage and profession."

He and Heather found their calling. God, he said, gave them a special connection with soldiers and their families. They know they will stay busy for a while.

The U.S. mission in Iraq ended on December 18, 2011, as the last American soldiers climbed into hulking trucks and armored vehicles at Camp Adder, the southernmost base in Iraq.

The war, however, is sure to continue on a second front - in America's cities and homes. And in the offices of counselors and chaplains like Darren Turner.

Turner reminisces about Iraq often, and when I saw him at Fort Campbell, he told me he wrestled with mixed feelings on the day America's military presence ended. He hopes that, in the end, the war will have been worth the blood that was spilled.

Another war, the one in Afghanistan, is far from over, with casualties mounting every month. Today, Turner counsels soldiers serving there. His words, honed from experience, are more specific now.

Get Skype, he says.

Perhaps it's not what a soldier expects to hear from a man of God. It’s certainly not the stuff of Sunday sermons.

But it's practical advice that Turner knows will go a long way toward filling the emotional vacuum. He believes distance from one’s own family can trigger a breakdown, especially when a soldier is coping with injuries and combat stress.

"Being away from your family for that long is way more difficult than I anticipated," Turner said.

Skype, he discovered, is the next best thing to being at home. You can't feel someone or smell them but you can see and hear.

"That's two of the senses," he said. "That's exponential."

Turner’s pastoral passion is still driven by the force that first drew him to the chaplaincy: Jesus.

Everyone has faith in something, Turner said. His own conviction is that Jesus answers longings in the human heart and provides perspective. Beyond immediate emergencies, the larger story is one of hope.

“He's been there on the other side, and came back to tell us,” Turner said. “That's the biggest event in human history, something that maintains hope, even in battle. When soldiers get that, it changes everything.”

Turner said he may not have been God’s perfect messenger, but that his selfish choices do not negate God’s love.

Turner is thankful for that. And that he can carry on with his calling.

- Moni Basu

Filed under: Christianity • Military

soundoff (2,230 Responses)
  1. Tony

    "Off post, people went about their lives without a real understanding of the sacrifices made by American service members."

    So what? Most of the American public doesn't even want us over there, so we should not be there. We are held hostage by a Congress who believes they know best, a Military Industrial Complex who receives huge contracts from Congress and then turns around and donates heavily back to Congress members who support their interests.

    The American public would care if we had a real reason to be there.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • allenwoll

      EXACTLY ! ! !

      May 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Edwardo

      Tony – I think most Americans are appreciative to the soldiers. I think most agree that attacking the Taliban, and taking out Bin Laden is necessary for our safety. We are just disgusted at the lies told to us, about Iraq. That's where Americans have a problem... the WMD's that didn't exist, the fact Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. That is why Americans have such a bitter taste in our mouths. But, I for one, totally appreciate our soldiers.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I support our troops, I don't support the doctrine.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  2. Saywhatyoumean

    why when I hit post my comment doesn't appear ? I didnt say anything rude or link to another site

    May 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Saywhatyoumean

      I give up on this site . I try to write out thoughtful and encouraging posts just to have them disappear.
      whatever – peace cnn

      May 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  3. Edwardo

    It would only take 1 contradiction, to prove the bible is imperfect.. JUST 1.. Here are just a few:
    1. God is satisfied with his works
    Gen 1:31
    God is dissatisfied with his works.
    Gen 6:6
    2. God dwells in chosen temples
    2 Chron 7:12,16
    God dwells not in temples
    Acts 7:48
    3. God dwells in light
    Tim 6:16
    God dwells in darkness
    1 Kings 8:12/ Ps 18:11/ Ps 97:2
    4. God is seen and heard
    Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/
    Ex 24:9-11
    God is invisible and cannot be heard
    John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16
    5. God is tired and rests
    Ex 31:17
    God is never tired and never rests
    Is 40:28

    May 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • jim thane

      Could it be the bible was written by men? how can gods existence be balanced against the validity of the bible?

      May 27, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Edwardo

      @Jim – Good question... Reality is a tough thing to cope with. Everyone around me thinks they're going to pass on to a better world after this one. I say.. make the most of this one, as it's all you're going to get.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • LouAZ

      Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain . . .

      May 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      No, you don't get it. It's "inspired".

      May 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  4. Spangler

    It is a good thing Biblical war tactics are not being used as this would involve the total desolation of entire regions and peoples except young virgins.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  5. Marley

    WTH is "God"?!

    Define what your "God" is. If you cannot even come up with one logical thought about this thing you call "God" ... then how can you claim it exists?

    To claim that your "God" exists requires that you can make one logical statement about "it". If all you can come up with is irrational jibberish ... sorry, your "God" does not exist!

    Many thanks to all the soldiers that serve our country. But when you start counseling soldiers using JEWISH FAIRYTALES ... you are setting up these solders for a FAILURE on the battlefield and when they return home.

    "Jesus" is no superman. He died not die for your so called "sins" and come back to life. All that magical fairytale stuff never happened.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • jim thane

      God is the creator, who invested some humans with a part of himself (a soul). we live on this earth with our fellow soulless, and create churches to control the soulless, less they take advantage of me, because i fear them. but the soulless take the reins of power and greed, and make wars that i must fight in. not sure what you wanted. my prayers get answered, i have my proof as do others. so your statement in regards to my belief is just so much hot air

      May 27, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Marley

      @jim_thane wrote: "God is the creator, who invested some humans with a part of himself (a soul)"

      WTH is "the CREATOR"?
      WTH is a "soul"?

      Let me give you a hint: nobody in the existence of mankind has come up with an answer to this question: WTH is "God"?

      Nobody can come up with a rational definition for this thing "God"!

      Every definition and every explanation people have ever come up with for "God" is IRRATIONAL.

      An IRRATIONAL THOUGHT means you know absolutely NOTHING about what you claim to exist. And if you know NOTHING then what you claim to exist does not exist.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Ann

      Wow, Jim, when you explain it like that, it sounds like we're all horcruxes.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • jim thane

      nah, atheists are cruel humans who enjoy pestoring us, sometimes it gets annoying. my posts are not for the atheists anyway, but for the many who dont comment and read and perhaps get a little more light in the darkness.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Jimmy,
      If god has "parts", then at some point, yer gonna run out.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  6. martog

    Rather than inculcating our children with the primary-color simple Sunday school legends and myths most people do, might I suggest the following ten comandments to enable them to think for themselves.
    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.
    3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.
    4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars get frightened when you want to "look under the hood".
    5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and goblins and believing in any of them does not make one moral.
    6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should I believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.
    7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?
    8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of god” or “god moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.
    9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?
    10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.
    I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any religion or other supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      A carnally thinking individual not wanting others to experience their spiritual self. My heart hurts for you for not comprehending your true self ... yet.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • J

      Thank you martog. Words to live by. Critical thinking and rational, logical thought are the key to progress, peace, and shedding ideological dogma.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Exactly, martog.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Mark Taylor

      Critical thinking? This person has not cited 1 scholarly resource in the claims they have been making. Hey, let's talk about the Higgs bosson particle that physicists have not yet been able to detect and yet so much of our current understanding of the physical universe is contingent on this little goody.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • AGuest9

      @Mark Taylor – it's boson. It means that SUSY was wrong. There is no super-symmetry, as electro-weak symmetry breaks.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  7. Jesus

    Having served in a combat zone and having seen and met Chaplains, I can atest to the fact that they are (i) for the most part failures in delivering religious rhetoric (that's why most joined the Army), and (ii) in it for the etirement bucks. These are the lowest form of life amongst those in the religion business and those in the service. .

    May 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Take responsibility that you have ears that refuse to hear and eyes that do not see.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Edwardo

      @Heavensent – However, I have a brain, so I can think!

      May 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • iketurner78

      An Army Chaplain is what turned me away from Christianity and turned me into an Atheist. I wish I could go back and thank him.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  8. CommonSense

    "God, says Eldredge, designed men to be daring, even dangerous." Sure. The make-believe character does whatever you say it does. When things go badly, it's not God's fault. When things go well, it's all God's doing.
    I would think a 4 or 5 years old could see through that simplistic thinking.
    But, it's more delusional Jesus nonsense. I wish I could laugh at this, but it's pathetic.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Aaron

      if it wasn't so hideous, it would be laughable.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  9. Jeff in Oregon

    Why are we paying for this type stuff to go on in our military. If people or soldiers want to have religion in their military life, then bring and keep it to themselves. I don't want to be paying for this function, it does not have a place in our military. Remember, separation of church and state. I am not a religious person, but don't think any good god would support or think what we have done and are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is a good thing. Both have been disasters and depleted our nation's treasury. Our military is a screwed up function, and injecting religion into it makes it worse. Sad.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  10. A Catholic who The Church refuses to excommunicate

    You go ahead and believe in your deities. Some omnipotent thing in the sky that showers you with love (until he/she/it decides to destroy you with a hurricane), and which you thank for everything good that happens to you (like surviving the hurricane he/she/it threw at you, while your neighbors have been killed and your home destroyed). That supremely benevolent thing which, if you do not believe in it and swear fealty to it, will turn you into a pile of salt. That omniscient thing which requires periodic supplication during which you express your desires so that they may be known to the omniscient one. That heinous belief that 'if others do not believe, they have no soul', 'if others do not believe, they are evil', 'if others do not believe, they must be destroyed'. If God exists, then God is evil incarnate.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      They don't excommunicate anymore. It morphed into, "don't take communion".

      May 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • jim thane

      Could it be that God created man in his image (invested with a soul) and let him live on earth with freewill(satan) to do as he chooses. Answerable only after he dies. and not to go to hell, because he in fact loves his creation. but the body is not the soul, and what happens during this existence has no impact on the soul

      May 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • A Catholic who The Church refuses to excommunicate

      One of the things that amuses me most about true believers is their ability to retreat into the abstract when faced with contradictions to their stated beliefs.

      As for me, believe me when I say that I am grieved by the lack of a God. I once was well indoctrinated into the belief in the supernatural. There is a certain infantile comfort in that belief, thinking that there is a great daddy in the sky that will make everything better. And most likely that is the true origin of religion, wanting to believe that we never have to grow up, that Daddy will always be there to take care of us. Gradually, over many years, I began to see the truth. That we are simply biological beings, subject to our own capriciousness. It started with me as a child watching another child die in front of me, with me being unable to help (the boy, Michael, drowned after going down a slide on a dock standing up and was knocked unconscious. I was six. That is something that never leaves your memory. Ever. I later went on to become a lifeguard because of this event, being the last person to see him alive, and to watch his mother running down the beach and screaming his name.) Then as a young officer in the Army having to send other young men home to their mothers in a casket, and to having to try to explain to them why their boy died. And after that, watching the child of dear friends die from horrible cancer at only a few years of age. All of this along with many other incidents leads one to challenge his beliefs.

      After all of the suffering, misery, and death that I have witnessed, there can simply be no God. And if there is a God, it is most certainly something that I would never respect. In fact, if there is a God, and I can get my hands on its throat, I will throttle it myself.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      "and what happens during this existence has no impact on the soul"

      Thank Jimmy. You just refuted your "purpose for existence", and proved that it makes no difference, whether I "sin" or not.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  11. Ahston

    I pray for those who do not believe. Everyone meets their creator and everyone has to answer to him. The bible is our foundation that will help with the day to day and piece within the soul. Those who do not believe will continue to struggle within until they ask for Jesus to be their personal savior. Asking him to come into your heart and life and be your guide. There is nothing more amazing and peaceful. When everything else is coming down around you the one solid truth is Jesus, whom you can always rely on.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Prayer has been proven to not work. If god has a plan, it refutes the plan. Is god waiting for "more prayers" until he decides to do something ? Can't make up his mind ? What nonsense.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Edwardo

      Shuv it.. you self-rightous p.o.s.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Karl Wilder

      Try rational thought, it can cure your obvious mental illness.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Colin

      Thanks Ashton, you continue to pray for we nonbelievers and we will continue to think for you.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Ahston' contains a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      May 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Stentor

      Oh puke!

      May 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  12. Jeremiah

    The sign that you are a Christian is that you are born again, and have God's spirit living inside of you. I thought this article was pretty good. The hateful responses are just unnecessary. I challenge you to read the first 3 chapters of the Gospel of John in the Bible before you continue to criticize people like this chaplain or Christians, or before you just criticize anyone's beliefs. I need to read them myself again. Then decide for yourself what you believe. Come with an open mind and ask God to reveal who he really is. Did Jesus really create the world as John 1:10 says? Is there eternal life after death by believing on Jesus Christ as John 3:16 says? It's the same question we all have to answer before we die and face eternity individually. Did Jesus really die for me? For you? What does that mean in our lives if he did?

    May 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      tell us oh wise one, how did god begin creation, BEFORE she created time ?

      May 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Karl Wilder

      I have read the bible many times, the more I read the more convinced I became it was written by men with a political agenda. God comes off as a sick, twisted and contradictory creature.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • jim thane

      You guys have the gist of it. define what it is you dont agree with. the bible was written by man, organized religion was organized by man. the atheists attack MANS creation to disprove GOD. I hear how the bible says this, or christians do this. but those are men and their products. Attack the creator, only him not what is said about him. attack my soul, not me. keep the debate on the issue, there is nothing or a higher power or creator.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Jimmy, see my question above, and ANSWER it. It IS about yer god, ONLY.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  13. Karl Wilder

    How incredibly exploitative to find people in pain and use their confusion to push his version of sky fairy upon them.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • @Karl wilder

      You aren't very smart, are you? It would be exploiting them if THEY didn't go to him. Make sense? I know, it's disappointing isn't it? The entire argument of exploitation and 'brain washing' falls flat on its face when you remember that people GO to the chaplain/pastor/church/private school to hear what they want to hear.

      Hello...that's the exact opposite of exploitation and brainwashing.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Carol

      There is no sky fairy. There is however God. The problem of Fundamentalist Christian beliefs, such as Robertsons, etc. is that they leave no space for anyone elses beliefs whether they be other Protestant, Catholic, buddists, muslims, etc. This showed up in his own failed marriage relationship. Interpretation is everything in anyones religon or no religion.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • AGuest9

      No, there is no god, nor a sky fairy.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Ann

      They're in the middle of a combat zone, so they GO to whoever is available to them. In the absence of qualified mental health counselors, they get a guy who tells them everything will be okay, just jump in this washtub with me and let me wave my hand around.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  14. Follower of Christ

    h"I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out that there isn't. Rather than live my life as if there isn't a God and die to find out that there is" May God have mercy on the people who are so blinded and foolish to the point that they believe that the genius behind creation is mere coincidence. Rejecting Jesus Christ the Son of God is simply rejecting life. The choice is yours (freewill) Those who believe in Jesus will reign with Him in the end, those who reject Him will live forever in a place where you wont have to worry about seeing Him.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Pascal's Wager. Ho hum. Nothing better ?

      May 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Edwardo

      If that's your theory, then you have about 30 other religions to follow, to ensure you have the right religion. I don't gamble, so I'm sticking with my athiesm. Wouldn't care to spend eternity with your blood thirsty god anyways.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • What IF

      @Follower of Christ,

      - What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill their wishes and demands.

      - What if the real "God" prefers those who use logic and reason and punishes you as a silly sycophant?

      - What if the real "God" detests those who believe something just to cover their butts in eternity?

      May 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  15. An Atheist Soldier

    It is unfortunate that christianity is the only religion that is associated with the military, when in fact, there are multiple faiths that are practiced. It really angers me that this chaplain thinks he should only represent christianity when it is his job to provide services for all faiths. I will say however, as an atheist i dont think any of them are necessary, as there is nothing to believe in, but hey if all you have is nothing then thats what you have. For me that fact that im an atheist, leftist, soldier has always been a bit polarizing, making me a black sheep in the military. I however, do not care, because when the fighting starts my rifle is aimed in the same direction as everyone elses, and you better believe im good with it. Personally ive always found it a bit funny however, the fighting of religious people. I mean it is the tenants of all major religion that theyre religion is designed to spread peace throughout the world. It would seem that this concept is in direct contrast when you consider that soldiers are paid killers. Yes our mission is to make sure we instill some form of peace, but ultimately its my job to kill first and secure peace second. Trust me, when you go through basic training they dont give you classes on peaceful resolutions, they train you through rigorous stress induction, to kill without remorse. Im pretty sure that jesus, allah, budha nor any other major religious dogma ever truly endorsed that (well maybe allah). Either way who cares, its all about hypocrisy and justification to insure righteousness and moral authority. This chaplain is just another facet of the lie and wont be remembered one hundred years from now. come to think of it, neither will you or i.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • CurryMonster

      Agreed, however, Buddha believed in dharma, and that meant doing your duty, no matter what it was.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • NoleGirl

      You must live a very dark and lonely life. Find God and live your life to the fullest!

      May 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Poe

      ALL CHAPLAINS SHOULD BE ROMOVED FROM MILITARY PAYROLL. All religious organizations should be taxed. If a soldier wants religious comfort they can seek out any of the religious organizations (businesses) that cater to their personality. To have a preacher in my military telling my fellow soldiers that a God will save you, or take you to a better place if they dont save you (as long as you drink the kool-aid), is deplorable.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • yeap that's right

      Thanks for your service Brutha and stay safe.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • NoleGirl

      You must lead a dark and lonely life. Try God and see how your life will change.....

      May 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • AGuest9

      NoleGirl, please stop. Most of the grotesquely intolerant and unforgiving people I have ever met were "christian".

      May 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Tyler

      This country was built on the fundamentals of Christianity and it only makes since for our military to be based on Christianity. And the purpose of religion is not to spread peace, but to provide a person the means to express their beliefs, and to gather other followers who all come together under the same beliefs. Soldier's are the one's doing the fighting, risking their lives in order to spread peace. We are not paid to kill, we are paid to do our job to support our country and defeat evil.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Tazzle

    That's Turner's advice? Skype? How can channeling your anger and coping issues from a distance vs from close up be of any help? As an Army nurse, I've seen more soldiers turn unbelievers than embrace religion after their ordeals overseas. They blame God for not helping them in their hour of need and for allowing the atrocities they've seen and for the feelings they have. Too many feel that religion and flag and country have let them down and become lukewarm to both if not down right bitter. And Turner recommends Skype? Seriously? It might have worked for him, and I wonder if it really did. I've learned that social isolation and lack of understanding of the horrors of war by loved ones and friends is the biggest problems for returning soldiers and the solidarity and close friendship of others that have been through the same thing works a lot better. But, many of their loved ones are resentful and lack understanding, believing they're being taken granted and put on a back burner while their returning love one is out with his buddies until all hours of the night. They can't win for losing. Mediation from competent medical personnel and group therapy from others in the same predicament work a great deal better. But, the worst thing possible is to allow them to retreat and become reclusive. I actually believe relying too much in prayer and the supernatural hinders recovery. They need to be out where they can interact with others who understand what they've gone through and have a support system. The high number of suicides in returning military personnel and domestic abuse should tell us that the situation is critical.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Edwardo

      Fantastic post!!

      May 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • yeap that's right

      Thank you for your service.....and thanks for the candid first hand experience on the subject.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Ann

      Skype is probably a more useful recommendation than prayer.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  17. Diana

    I volunteer for Brigadoon Service Dogs. Last year we started training service dogs for Veterans with PTSD,TBI and other issues. The demand for dogs is high – wish it wan't so.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  18. Follower of Christ

    "I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out that there isn't. Rather than live my life as if there isn't a God and die to find out that there is" May God have mercy on the purpose who is so blinded and foolish to the point that the believe that the genius behind creation is mere coincidence. Rejecting Jesus Christ the Son of God is simply rejecting life. The choice is yours (freewill) Those who will for Jesus will reign with Him in the end, those who reject Him will live forever in a place where you will never be.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Pascal's Wager, yet again. You ain't gonna find out anything. When yer dear, yer dead. You have ONE life. Better to live it in a non-deluded state.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • yeap that's right

      Spot on Bucky

      May 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Over It

      Follower of Christ,

      There is just as much evidence (i.e., none) that Allah is the real god.

      Humans existed for hundreds of thousands of years before the Middle Eastern Hebrew "God" was posited. Hindu gods have been worshipped for something like 7,000 years. 3500 years for the Hebrew "God" and 2,000 for the Jesus offshoot is not much.

      There is no verified evidence for any of the gods or supernatural beings that have been worshipped over the ages. And a new one could pop up at any time now.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • I wonder

      Follower,

      I wonder if you know how many millions (billions?) of ancient Egyptians for thousands of years just "knew in their hearts" that Ra was the true god and went to their graves with a little clay sun-disk clutched to their chests?

      May 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  19. John

    Zephaniah 1:14 – "The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out."

    Wail mighty men. The Lamb that was slain returns as a Lion. Choose which one you want to face...the Lamb or the Lion. Your choice!

    May 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      said the Farting Preacher

      May 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  20. rock woman

    How is it that so many posters can totally fail to recognize, let alone comprehend or appreciate, the struggle involved in one man's search for meaning, ...and then fire off comments that clearly demonstrate their walled-off minds and their inability to walk in anything but their own precious shoes, even for a minute.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Karl Wilder

      What can you say? Christians have walled off minds. Sorry their comments upset you.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.