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August 30th, 2011
04:23 PM ET

Preparing clergy for war: army chaplains train by the hundred for the combat zone

By Eric Marrapodi and Chris Lawrence, CNN

Fort Jackson, South Carolina (CNN) – The summer sun beats down on camouflaged Kevlar helmets.  Weighed down by heavy body armor, men and women of the cloth are crawling through sand, under barbed wire and learning how to run with soldiers.

Explosions in woods simulate the battlefield as an instructor barks commands.

"You are not following simple instructions!  Cover me while I move!  Got you covered!  Let's go!"

This is the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where the Army trains clergy of all faiths how to survive in combat.

Once many of these chaplains complete this modified basic training they will head to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the explosions and gunfire are not simulated.

U.S. Army chaplain candidates train at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.

Here at Fort Jackson, on a range in the woods, there is a bevy of broken down cars and trucks to simulate an urban battlefield.

The army says being a chaplain in combat is among the most dangerous jobs because the chaplains move from base to base ministering to soldiers.

"Once you move behind the vehicle, the chaplain, who has no weapon, will stay behind the engine block or the wheel base. That is the safest place for you to be,” the instructor yells to the long line of chaplains who are readying to run this course.

On the battlefield, chaplains look just like any other soldier.

Decked out in camouflage and body armor, the only addition is a two-inch patch signifying their religious affiliation.  Christian clergy wear a cross, Jewish clergy tablets showing the Ten Commandments, and Muslim clergy wear a crescent.

A cross patch signifies a chaplain's religious affiliation.

What they do not have is a weapon.

Chaplains are unarmed at all times.

They travel in combat with a chaplain assistant who carries a weapon and protects the clergy member.

For this drill the chaplains are learning to hold onto the back of their assistant as they run from obstacle to obstacle.

The pairs have to stay low and move through the course two pairs at a time.  The chaplain assistants have to cover the others as they move.

“Cover me while I move!”

“Got you covered!”

Then they run and dive for cover.

Army chaplains must learn to run with soldiers.

"Hold onto him like this and you will not get separated or you will be taken out. You are the target of opportunity.  You stay on him!" The instructor yells when a chaplain is separated from his assistant.

This is about as far away from a suburban pulpit or seminary these clergy can get.

“In school I'm used to sitting at a desk and reading and writing, so it's definitely a little more physical,” 2nd Lt. Adri Bullard said.  She is a Methodist seminarian, pursuing a Master’s in Divinity at the divinity school at Vanderbilt University.

“Being in grad school and trying to get your (degree) takes discipline and the discipline is pretty steady throughout my life right now. Getting up early, staying up late. These big booms, that's the main difference.  You really don't have those going off at seminary or divinity school, hopefully,” she smiles and pauses as explosions punctuate her points.

She is the smallest person on the range and sports the biggest smile.  What she lacks in physical stature, she makes up two-fold in effort and energy.

Bullard is among 200 chaplains and chaplain hopefuls going through various stages of chaplain school at any given time.  In Bullard’s class of chaplain candidates, the group covers a wide range.  “We’ve got two of our students who are actually in their 50s and we have two that are 22,” said Chaplain Maj. Harold Cline, who is an instructor.

Regardless of age, the candidates are put through their paces.

“When you’re working with soldiers, they’re in good shape. That’s part of their business. If you’re going to minister to them and work with them, rub elbows with them, you’ve got to be in good shape as well.”

The U.S. Army employs around 2,900 chaplains.  About half are active duty and the other serve in the reserves.  Eight-hundred chaplains and chaplain assistants are deployed in the war on terror and 300 of them serve in the Middle East and Afghanistan, according to a spokesman.

In order to join the ranks, a member of the clergy also has to meet the ordination requirements of their own faith and be endorsed by them to join the military.

Bullard has at least a year of schooling to go before she can be ordained in her church to serve as a full-time minister and an active duty chaplain.

She said she felt the call to ministry in college, “(I) did some of that in a congregational setting, yet felt like there was something else I needed to be doing, maybe taking it to another level in another setting.  Military chaplaincy seemed to fit that.”

Even in training she sees a parallel between her spiritual calling and the military.

“You're helping to meet the most basic needs a person has to live and thrive and flourish.  I'm going to look for everyone around me and make sure they're drinking water. I'll go get them water if they need it.  And that's scriptural,” she said, referring to a passage in the gospels where Jesus talks about giving water to the thirsty.

“So I think it's pretty easy to do ministry out here in the beating South Carolina sun.”

The task at hand

In the Army, each combat unit is able to have a chaplain with them if the commanding officer wants one. They report to that commanding officer and are paid by the military for their services.

The chaplaincy corps had to grow in a hurry as combat operations increased in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade, said Chaplain Carlton Birch, the spokesman for the chaplain corps.

“Our country is becoming more pluralist,” Birch said.  “We’ve had our first Buddhist chaplain, now we have our first Hindu chaplain. Our chaplain corps has had to adapt.”

It’s a long way from the start of the chaplaincy corps on July 29, 1775, under George Washington.

Today army chaplains minister to soldiers of all faiths regardless of their own.  They hold services in remote areas, connect a soldier of another faith with a chaplain of their own, and conduct ceremonies to send a fallen soldier home.

“They are the listening ear, they are there in times of crisis and turmoil for the soldiers,” Birch said.  “The value we hold dear is to meet a person at their time of need.”

The danger of their job was brought home for many here last summer when Chaplain Dale Goetz was killed when an improvised explosive device struck the vehicle he was riding in Afghanistan.

He was the first chaplain killed in action since the Vietnam War.

“The danger is sometimes what gives us the credibility to minister to our soldiers.  They know we've been there.  We've been there with them.  We've faced the fear,” Chaplain Capt. Karlyn Maschhoff said.

Maschhoff is a seasoned chaplain with multiple tours to the Middle East under her belt.

She came to Fort Jackson for another component of training – moving from rookie status like Bullard to being a more senior chaplain and helping those new to this unique ministry position.

Before September 11, 2001, she was writing Sunday school material and doing mission work. “I came into the chaplaincy after the events of 9/11. That made a profound impact on me when I saw the need for chaplains,” Maschhoff said.

“It was a combination of patriotism and recognizing the needs of soldiers as they climbed on those planes to go to a place where they would be in harm’s way and I just felt the need to be with them, to go with them. That is what led to me accepting the call.”

During her prior tours in Iraq she has seen the worst of war on the battlefield and on the home front.

“My first deployment was in 2005-2006 and that was a tough period. There was a lot of loss of life, a lot of bloodshed and a lot of uncertainty. But then I also went back later in 2008 for a 15-month deployment and at that time you got to see things improving.  Incidents were happening, but you got to see progress.”

“Losing soldiers is always tough,” she said.  “Watching families struggle through a deployment, yet you come on, you struggle on together.  You get through the tough days together. You continue on. As a chaplain you bring hope for the future and that is our message to our soldiers, that it's a dark day but it's going to get better.”

Heading home the hard way

"In country if you're doing one of these it could be 100, 130 degrees, maybe even hotter," Cline barks as rookie chaplains learn how to send a soldier home the hard way, with a dignified transfer ceremony.

They practice with a flag-draped metal transfer case, identical to the thousands of cases used to send slain soldiers home from war.

Before the transfer case boards the plane for the long flight home, the chaplains say a prayer or hold a brief service.

“She may have moved on from this Earth, but she's still in my heart," a chaplain in training says as he looks over the transfer case.

Six soldiers pick up the case.  They snap their heels together and begin to move.

Chaplain Cline instructs chaplain candidates how to do a dignified transfer for a soldier killed in action.

"You do not want to be the chaplain who is walking too slow in front of an honors team,” Cline said.  “Why? They're carrying the body, they're carrying the transfer case, and even though the case is relatively light, it's got a body in it and it’s full of ice, so they're carrying a lot of weight.  Don't slow them down and don't make them hold that transfer case up while you're doing something ceremonial."

The chaplain candidate puts his hand on the flag, bows his head, and sends the solider off with a prayer.

Today is a drill, but the Army says in as little as two weeks, these trainees could be doing the real ceremony on an airstrip in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Days after our interview, Maschhoff was on a plane back to the Middle East to begin her third tour, fully confident of her mission from her commanders and from on high, “It's challenging and  you know there are tough times ahead, but you're there to do what you've been trained to do. You're there taking care of soldiers and it doesn't get better than that.”

–CNN’s John Person and Jonathan Schaer contributed to this report

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Afghanistan • Belief • Buddhism • Christianity • Content Partner • Hinduism • Iraq • Islam • Middle East • Military • TV-The Situation Room

soundoff (818 Responses)
  1. McJesus

    If you tie a pastor to the front of a tank.. would God prevent that tank from being hit by weapon fire? If a church had REAL faith. Then why don't they cancel their insurance policy on the building?

    September 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • A Theist

      Where to begin?
      1) Pastors are not "special people" that have some sort of Holy protection. A simple read of the bible shows that those who are supposed to lead God's people are usually those who will be attacked and downtrodden the most.
      2) God asks His followes to be "wise as serpents but innocent as doves." That means one should live practically yet aim to trust and love others wherever possiblem Insurance is a good way to live practically (though personally I don't see the need for fancy church buildings, I think they are unbiblical).

      September 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Chris

      if we can't make christians out of them we'll burn their villages

      September 1, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • john

      if you got hit by a car and died would that mean your parents didnt love you? if you got a headache from eating icecream would that make it evil. If your iPhone rang and scared you would that make it a good halloween accessory, because it is scary? if you told someone you loved tacos, would you be a sinner for not marrying them. (yeah, yours sounds just as stupid)

      September 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • McJesus

      A talking snake spoke to Eve. Moses parted the waters. Jesus turned water to wine. Yeah. STUPID. REALLY STUPID to believe in such nonsense.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • fred

      McJesus
      >talking snake
      So just how would you describe the tempter to a peoples 15,000+ years ago in a symbolic language of that day which still holds the same meaning as it does today? Think you could do better go for it I would like to see what man in the year 17011AD thinks of your story of creation.
      >Moses parting the sea
      It was not Moses it was God that parted the waters. Depending on your theology it could be viewed as allegory related to breaking free from the bondage of sin or literal story of Gods power over the greatest army of the times to free His chosen peoples.
      > Jesus turned water to wine
      This was 120 to 180 gallons of wine for a wedding in 6 water jugs. It was the first sign of 7 in the Gospel of John that points to the new order of things to come through Jesus. The meanings are deep and relate to the old Jewish traditions and laws verses the Gospel. This was not a parlor trick before the wedding crowd but in private before the disciples and servants in the back room.

      September 2, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  2. Terry Brookman

    What a joke... A total perversion of the truth and as corrupt as the politicians and bankers who invent these make believe reasons for war. 9 11 was a inside job, get a clue America nothing but a bunch of sheep.

    September 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • A Theist

      Here we go again. Have you ever witnessed our government at work? There's simply no way they are intelligent enough or cooperative enough to pull something off on that kind of scale. That's excluding all the clear evidence we have of it not being an inside job and the fact that you clearly prefer not to read or look at reality.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Chris

      1933 the American Southern Bapist Convention praised Hitler as being a Godsend.google it

      September 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  3. God is on our side

    Preparing clergy for war:

    The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an oath of loyalty to the federal flag and the Republic of the United States of America.

    our religious leaders receive training and we should get ready for war. so whoever disrespects us or wants to harm us then LET'S LIGHT'EM UP!!!

    September 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Jim

      Sounds so very saintly of you, oh wondrous peacemaker.

      September 1, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Matt

      You may think that, but the Bible says differently. Act 10:34 At this Peter opened his mouth and said: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, 35 but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.

      It doesn't say in the United States it says in every nation. God is not on anyone's side. We have to be on his side. Nations, even those who do or do not claim to be favored by God will soon be gone when Daniels 2:44 is fullfilled.

      (Daniel 2:44) “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite;

      We are living in the days of those kings, the world governments that exist today.

      September 2, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  4. thebeerdude

    Army Chaplain – there's a contradiction in terms. When is mankind going to make it through the Dark Ages? If these chaplains were true men and women of God, they would boycott the war and refuse to participate in a barbaric circus.

    September 1, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Guest

      Come on beerdude, you don't think true "men and women of god" would go where they are needed, tending to the needs of people under enormous amounts of pressure, physically and emotionally. These are not cheerleaders for the war(s), but those who help clean up the damage the war causes. It's kind of like saying physiciains shouldn't treat war injuries because it makes them part of a brutal war effort. I agree war should be avoided (and some of our latest wars are not defensible, but that's a different rant), but let's not take it out on those in the meddle who have little to say about whether we get into a war, but suffer the most for it. chaplins don't help everyone, but for those who get osme comfort from them, fine with me.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Wayne

      You are right Beerdude. You cannot be a Christian "follower of Christ" and at the same time participate in the carnage of war. It is the opposite of what Jesus taught and the example he left us. Jesus lived by the principles he taught and did not compromise them when it was not convenient or unpopular. Anyone who wants to follow Christ must do the same–his words not mine. If you find that too difficult or it doesn't line up with your political or world view, you might as well select another religion, because Jesus does not consider you his follower, unless you are actually following him.

      September 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Darla

      Well, what ever happened to when Jesus said, you are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world? Sure sounds to me like they are taking a big part in the world. So Muslims are killing Muslims, Christians killing Christians, and so forth. These religions are on both sides. Do you really think God is taking sides and listening to the prayers of these clergy who bless war? He turns his face away in disgust. It's like the Bible says, It is in vain that they worship me. Babylon the Great, you Great Harlot, Empire of False Religion,

      September 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  5. Meyer C. Dhoates

    Having a Sky Pilot in your unit risk the lives of real soldiers. What good is an unarmed soldier?

    September 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Lee

      You are most likely a very selfish person and care only for yourself and damn the rest. Good luck in your journey...a very lonely journey.

      September 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • McJesus

      Sorry my friend. The Sky Pilot is armed with the power to hurl lightning bolts and cast magical spells of protection!

      September 1, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  6. Jackie

    my sister is a Buddhist, she also vegetarian, she always ask me " hurry!kill the fly for me...."

    September 1, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • EnergyBeing3

      Isn't it interesting that we never hear much scandal or drama from the Buddhists or the Hindus? I think that says something.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Energy

      It's beacuse they try to minimize their impact on this earth as much as possible because of Karma and reincarnation. Buddhists have the idea that all karma (good or bad) is ultimately bad because it keeps you here on earth in mortal form and barring you from moving on to nirvanah. Hindus are slightly different but strive to acheive good karma to win the lotto in reincarnation for future lives. Both make very unnewsworthy stories however.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Ba Dum Pah

      My karma ran over my dogma.

      September 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Wayne

      To the person saying you don't hear about scandal involving Hindus and Buddhist. You obviously have little contact with any countries with a large Hindu population. Hindus have been attacking Christians in India for quite some time and have been fighting the Muslims there also. FYI

      September 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • McJesus

      Its because we in the US only hear what the government wants us to hear. That is.. unless we actually look beyond the bubble created by corporate mass media and learn to THINK for ourselves rather than believe every piece of propaganda we are fed.

      September 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  7. Steve

    I cannot believe the hate that is posted day after day just because one opinion does not satisfy another's opinion. There is so much more to deal with on a day to day basis then putting down what faith is left in the world. You may not agree with everything, but to attack those who are trying to help humanity is just selfish.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  8. Paul Hager

    The Chaplains are there to minister to the soldiers and their families. it's better not to be alone in a time of crisis. If the Chaplain can provide comfort to individuals then God bless them. It's certainly not about war or about jihad or anything else, it's about the personal struggles of soldiers that are being asked to do a job that nobody should be asked to do, and that is to protect and preserve freedom in Iraq and Afganistan.
    All of the negative comments don't make any sense when youy realize these soldiers are asking for this service, and God bless them for doing so, because if I was a soldier in theatre, I would want to know that I was not alone, that God was still with me, even in the darkest place. God bless the chaplains and the soldiers, wherever they are deployed.

    September 1, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • Sporkify

      "Protect and preserve freedom"

      Wow you bought it hook line and sinker, didn't you? Not surprising, I suppose, that's a prerequisite of having "faith".

      September 1, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  9. Military Fiancee

    I'm thankful for the Chaplain Corp that provides the support to our soldiers as they defend your right to criticize them. I know many, many men and women serving. While not all of them avail themselves of the chaplians, those who do say they cannot describe the support they provide. Who am I to withhold spiritual comfort from someone? I may not agree with everything the military does, but providing for my finance's spiritual needs is not something I can fault them on.

    September 1, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Amistavia

      He'd be better off with a psychologist, not a believer in fairy tales.

      September 1, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • BRC

      @Amistavia,
      In the long run probably yes, but for a person of faith having someone on hand who can provide comfort is of value. It's like treatign a wounded soldier; what they need is to get back to a full hospital to be treated by doctors in a sterile environment, but what you have in the field is a medic who knows how to splint and bandage and can giev them a shot of morphine. Not the best long term answer, but it keeps them alive. Psycology could probably provides the best long term fix, but having a good listener and someone to confirm faith is good in a pinch.

      I am in the military, and an athiest; so while I don't need them I have met and worked with many Chaplains. They tend to be friendly and corteous, good listeners, and willing to help all of the soldiers/sailors they meet, regardless of the individual's faith (or lack thereof). AS for the government paying for it, I'm fine with it, as long as it benefits the people. The government also pays for tvs and sports equipment because they know solders/sailors need to unwind when they're deployed but not doing the mission. I consider the chaplains pretty much the same thing. By that same logic, if tomorrow the entirety of the US military became non-denominational non-practicing; I would expect the gov't to stop funding the chaplain program. That of course is not going to happen, but it explains the spending.

      September 1, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Military Fiancee

      Amastavia,

      A religion of science is no better than a religion of the soul. I'm not saying that psychiatry is not a valid option, or that chaplin are a better option. I am saying they are OPTIONS. With military suicides at their highest rates, does it matter how we help these men and women? No one is forcing them to go to a chaplain, but that option is there if they want spiritual guidance instead of just medical personnel.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • McJesus

      "A religion of science is no better than a religion of the soul"

      If I get an infection. I go to the hospital (science), not a church (soul). Who is better equipped to treat malaria? Who is better equipped to help a woman give birth to a breached baby? Who is better equipped to clear an arterial blockage?

      Science. Not faith.

      September 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Military Fiancee

      Right. But if my house is on fire, I'm not going to call a book publisher to put it out. I'm going to call the person I think best for the job. In MY life, there is room for both science and religion. I'm not trying to say it has to be that way in your life, so please respect my choice to have both in mine.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Atheist

      McJesus, My uncle was a practicing Christian Scientist, often curing ailments through faith. On the other hand, he was also a practicing dentist!

      September 2, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Why would a Chaplin need to wear body armour?

    Don't they have faith that their god will protect them?

    If they don't believe their god will protect them, who would it protect?

    September 1, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • tony

      Good Thinking

      September 1, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • MikeC

      God helps those you can help themselves.

      September 1, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Military Fiancee

      A belief in God does not give one magical powers. It does not make one invincible. It simply gives us comfort, strength, and guidance for the everyday and prepares us for what will one day be each person's fate.

      September 1, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • Demetrius

      Your comment made me think of the old story about the man in the rain storm.

      As the storm began, a policeman stopped by the man's house and urged him to follow the orders to evacuate.

      "No," the man replied. "My God will save me."

      As the rain came down harder and the floodwaters started filling his home, a neighbor came by in a boat and said, "Come with me in my boat. We're moving to safety."

      "No thanks," the man said. "My God will protect me."

      As the floodwater rose even higher, the man was forced to take refuge on the roof of his house. A helicopter rescue team flew overhead and a rescuer called down, "I'm coming to rescue you."

      "No," the man replied. "My God will save me."

      Three days later, the man's corpse was recovered from debris left by the flood.

      In heaven, St. Peter stood next to God and said, "God, I don't understand. This man had faith that you would save his life. Why did he have to die?"

      And God replied, "I sent a cop, a boat and a rescue helicopter. He chose not to recognize the opportunities."

      September 1, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Dave

      They wear body armor because it actually works.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  11. tony

    shame on this paster who pray for criminals who is going to kill innocent poeple.this is jihad against the Islam? bloody Jihadi chaplain. americans never ever win war this way.

    September 1, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Tony

      Yes, I agree there is only ONE true God, and I am a Christian. If you have read your Quran as I, you will see the 1st 5 books of the Bible are in the Quran. Why? Because all must have a chance to find the TRUTH. The people of the book we must listen too. The book is the Old testament. Many Christians do not read nor understand their own BIbles. It is no different with the Qoran. They do not read their Koran from cover to cover, IMO.

      September 2, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  12. Tony

    I never heard any prophet say today's wars are God's will. This is because there are no more prophets. Jesus was the last prophet, son of God. This being a fact. On who's authority are these wars fought? 2 Corinthians 4:3 & 4. "Satan who is the god of this evil world" (Living Bible). The word god, is lower case applies to a false god, or Satan. Only those who have read the Bible will understand.

    September 1, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • Amistavia

      You religious loonies really need to learn to understand that your crazy, blood-thirsty fairy tales need to remain separate from our government.

      September 1, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • tony

      Jesus never said he is a son of GOD.He said I am a servent of GOD.There is only One GOD.

      September 1, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Amistavia

      Nutter

      September 1, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Dave

      I think Joseph Smith holds the record for the last prophet.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  13. studdmuffins

    The crucifix matches up perfectly to a Muslim snipers crosshairs. They'd just as soon shoot an unarmed cleric as they would any other infidel.

    September 1, 2011 at 6:21 am |
  14. Chelsea

    You all have no idea what it is like to be a chaplain in the war. How hard they work. As a Rp, who works for the chaplain, I am outraged at the comments this story is receiving. If you don't agree, don't put it!! We don't want to hear negative comments in an already negative war. Just let us do our job, and protect the freedom you have to write these evil comments....

    September 1, 2011 at 5:15 am |
    • Matt

      True Christians do no take part or promote war in any form. Does a God of love and justice hear the prayers of these chaplains who pray for the safety of their troops while the religious leaders of the opposing forces do the same. The answer is that God hears neither. God does not take sides in the unrighteous wars fought today out of pride. Are not their hands covered by innocent blood by promoting killing of others. Jesus taught we sound love and even pray for our enemies. He also said to Peter when he cut of the ear of Malcous, the bodyguard of the high priest, the night before he died that those, to put away your sword, those who live by the sword would die by the sword.

      September 1, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Matt

      Chelsea – If you were a true Christian you would not be there and neither would these who claim to follow Jesus would not either. Quit fooling yourself and get out of the military before it is to late. If you don't you will be fighting against the Lamb and his mighty angels in the final war. One angel killed 185,000 soldiers in just one night. Who are you really supporting. A country that will also son go down with all the others when Daniel 2:44 is fulfilled. Read it – it is not just a statement, it is the truth from God's word the Bible.

      September 1, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • MikeC

      @ Matt
      Who is this person that speaks as if God speaks to them. As if he walks in the steps of his maker, or carries water to the thirsty.

      You sir act like you could possibly know what God is thinking. You critictize her for helping men/woman who are asked from their country to fight. No war is good. But dont think God didnt start wars. Read your Bible. War is not pretty and the chaplin goes in to give soldiers some humanity. Jesus was know to hang out with the leapers and undesireables. So even by your logic you are wrong. Please dont post here.

      September 1, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Atheist

      Chelsea, I have nothing but good to say about the US Army chaplains I met during the Vietnam War era. They definitely were able to comfort many people ordered into a war they did not believe in.

      September 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  15. Steve

    There may not be atheist in foxholes, but I assure you, there is no god on the battlefield. If the pastor can't do something useful then he should get the frock out of there.

    September 1, 2011 at 5:08 am |
    • Medardus

      This isn't an argument against atheists. It's an argument against foxholes.

      Aside from that, there are many atheists in combat all over the world. Check out the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

      September 1, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Atheist_In_Foxhole

      Explain the presence of the word "atheist" on my dog tags.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Steve

      @Atheist-In -Foxhole~ Keep up the goodwork and stay strong, thank you. Im just tired of people saying we don't exist

      September 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Atheist

      The foxhole idea is total bogus. I personally witnessed two slow atheist deaths in the foxhole.

      September 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  16. Bob

    This is a joke! and it really highlights how the do not have a clue what the bible teaches. If there is a God he does not support wars... and if he did, I would want nothing to do with him.

    September 1, 2011 at 4:19 am |
    • Kristin

      I wanna know how you figure God doesnt support wars? over and over again.... he told Isreal to go destroy their enemies.... even at one point to destroy everything including livestock ..... and he over and over again showed his power through the battles fought..... He even called warriors.... Gideon, Sampson, David, Joshua are just a few......

      September 1, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • Darla

      Those were righteous wars. God always fought for his people, the Israelites, and to vindicate his name. There was a reason for it back then, but when Jesus came, he gave us new commandments, the first, You must love God with your whole heart, soul, strength and mind, the second, You must love your neighbor as you do yourself. So, therefore, wars are not approved by God. But there will be one last and final war when God destroys the wicked for all time.

      September 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Wayne

      @Kristin. The explanation is quite simple. God promised to give a piece of land to the descendants of Abraham. In order to secure that piece of propriety he told them to get rid of all the inhabitants. The idea was for one war. Then they would move in and take over. They did not obey and did not kill off all the inhabitants, therefore they continued fighting wars through many centuries with the former inhabitants of the land promised to them. There have been no promises by God to anyone after that time indicating they have a special claim to any piece of land. This is the simple explanation found in the bible.

      September 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Maybe

      Wayne, "God promised to give a piece of land to the descendants of Abraham. "

      Sheesh, Moses could have sold you an Everglades time-share too, I'll bet.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  17. Charles Gannon

    Drive on Sky Pilot, Drive on

    September 1, 2011 at 4:06 am |
  18. CrystalRiver

    USA always liberated the world – the reason she was birthed. Doing nothing and watching in silence the world suffer under tyranny and oppression when one could help is evil. It's partially America's own fault she was too slow to rescue Europe and Asia last century. Don't repeat the selfish folly this century. This is one tiny evil planet; America must liberate the oppressed and such conduct requires sacrifice in all sides.

    September 1, 2011 at 3:26 am |
    • Anthony

      If by liberate you mean send the International Monetary Fund to saddle nations with unplayable debt for infrastructure, built by transnational corporations, to extract a resource we want at dirt-cheap prices, to pay for the equipment needed to remove it, through manipulation of the dictators we put in power, that we gave the weapons to retain in power against the will of the people, only to leave destroyed nations that have no choice but to vote in favor of us repeating the cycle in other areas of "strategic interest to the United States", then I suppose you are right. Of course when buying dictators off doesn't work, or they get more money from drug traffickers, or they actually decide to respond to the expressed will of the people and tell us to take a hike, we send in the CIA (assassination, coup, civil war). If that doesn't get the desired results we can call them supporters of terrorism, drug kingpins, or just send in the military as a last result. America used to be the country you imagine it to be today. The end of WWII was the end of that. After that, we became empire. Even before that we had the leanings. Genocide of our native peoples was the first order of business for a country that needed "breathing room". We have our own Sudetenland Land legacy. We just called it "Manifest Destiny" or the Monroe Doctrine. Unlike the NAZI's, we ultimately won, so were the writers of the history books. We have always called God our pretense. I want America to truly be a great nation. I want us to actually walk the talk we have been telling ourselves. I am a former soldier, and I am heart-sick we use our military as a tool of empire to protect corporate profit instead of having them here, defending our freedom.

      September 1, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  19. Righteousness

    There is nothing Christian or Christ-like about the current half-dozen "wars" America is engaged in. These Chaplains will be judged alongside the rest of us, and the people who send them there judged for their vain attempts at selling righteousness for murder. For murdering 1,460,000 Iraqis.... what a price America will pay.

    September 1, 2011 at 3:06 am |
  20. CrystalRiver

    Every man should be trained to combat villains spiritually and physically. It's Christian.

    September 1, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Chris

      is this a Saturday Night Live joke

      September 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • CrystalRiver

      No, but I am. I'm a pathological idiot. A bufoon that makes rocks look brilliant and goldfish have photographic memory.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:18 am |
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About this blog

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.