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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. DaveinCincy

    Energybeing...
    I feel bad for people of your ilk. You spend your days finding ways to condemn and judge those of that believe in a higher being because you don't. What we believe should have no impact on you. Whether you like it or not, there are people of many faiths that serve in the military and are called on to do a job that you could never do. It's helps them get through h3ll by having someone of faith to talk with. You're nothing more than a coward...a cyber coward. Because you can't see something or prove something scientifically, you mock it. There are a lot of us who believe that religion and science go hand in hand. Now you can go back to what you do best.....applauding abortions, crying about global warming, and figuring out ways to redistribute wealth. Tool.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      Ah... you know nothing about me and my beliefs. You are ASSuming a lot in your comment. There is a difference between believing in organized religion and being spiritual. There is also a difference of having blind faith in grossly made up stories to brainwash people into religious addictions. I dare you or anyone who follows the Christian religion to read through a few Atheist web sites to understand why they find Christian to be totally insane and delusional. One of my favorites is TheThinkingAtheist site. But alas, I'm not even Atheist. How about I simply don't want people to belief in lies then go off and get murdered or murder innocent people in a war we really don't need to be having. Does that make me a coward or perhaps peaceful and a bit more sane? Be mindful of how humans manipulate each other to do horrific deeds. This is not being a coward, this is caring for my fellow man.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Atheist

      Dave, it doesn't matter at all if you feel bad for our "ilk". You speak of the people who "believe that religion and science go hand in hand". But then you denigrate the idea of global warming, which CERTAINLY you know is embraced by the scientific community. You evidently also have a self-serving interest in maintaining the polarization of wealth in the US. I assume you feel the $3T lost with 10 years of Bush tax cuts (extended by Obama) makes sense. You can call people you don't know cowards? Many of my atheist friends served in the military along with me.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • DaveinCincy

      You say how can I believe....and I say how can you not. Contempt can go both ways.
      I also served in the Army...8 years...with atheists, but none and I mean none- ever talked about matters of faith as "stupid" or "ridiculous blind non-sense". All this conversation because people like you 2 mock and ridicule people of faith for going into harms way to comfort those who are dying or have given their lives in the line of duty. Whether you believe in the war or not is completely irrelevant.

      August 30, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  2. myweightinwords

    Wow, the vehemence and anger coming from both Atheists and Christians here is kind of intense.

    As neither, and as someone who is good friends with chaplains (or former chaplains) of several different faiths, I have to honor the work that they do and the risks that they take.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Paulie

      Why is CNN running this stupid story again. Hey liberals no one is an atheist on their death bed or wants to be buried without a ceremony or last rites.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Atheist

      Paulie, I've personally watched two atheists on their death beds, taking their final breaths Why do you fall for this dogma? Why do you think that calling someone a liberal is an insult?

      August 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Because he's 'special'.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Chelsea

      Thank you!! They have no idea the risks these Chaplains and their assistants take. They fight for their country just like all of these other soldiers.

      September 1, 2011 at 5:20 am |
  3. Johnny

    Sending folks into combat armed with nothing but dogma. Great idea! Even better, put another yokel in danger by making them assist them.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  4. William Demuth

    I often wonder why soldiers continue to fight in a war they must know we have no intention of winning.

    Between Libya, Iraq, covert Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon and all the other hell holes the evangelicals dragged us into, we haven't won a single war.

    And we never will. It is buisness not war, and the soldiers are just another commodity to be traded for oil.

    Mainly I suspect because the average American dosen't give a damn, only the zealots do.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  5. Patricia Redstone

    Staffing the military with Christian combatants is so wrong on so many levels AND it's an even more acceptable practice in American Christian culture than it is in muslim culture because the imams who incite young men to kill in the name of God are "radicals" or "extremists" ... these armed Christians are average, main stream religious leaders right from the heartland of America. This isn't what Jesus was about ... at all. Signed, A Christian for change. Vote Ron Paul.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Cleareye

      Chaplains should not be in uniform at all. We (taxpayers) certainly should not be paying them to do whatever they do. Let their denomination pay them and train them.
      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ... I would not prohibit chaplains from serving their "flock" but they should never be employed by taxpayers.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • A Theist

      Ah, but are they respecting the establishment of a religion, or the establishment of a soldier's beliefs? And to be honest, should any of us really be eyeing the soldiers with the same scrutiny as an avereage civilian? How many of us risk our lives on a daily basis, on the other side of the world, away from family and friends, with nothing to hold on to but the idea of freedom and a concept of God or life?

      It's easy to say it's a "waste of tax money" to support chaplains, but I got news for you: if you really condemn it, then start picketing Police funerals and church services (they get tax breaks) just like the nut-cases from Westboro Baptist do for all their unreasonable craziness.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      I'm pretty sure they voluntarily signed up for the gig.

      August 31, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • sunny lovetts

      VOTE RON PAUL IN DEED! GOD BLESS!

      August 31, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      Baba booey! Baba booey!

      [That's what it sounds like.]

      August 31, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  6. asdf

    That there are no atheists in foxholes says more about foxholes than atheists.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      Especially when you consider that atheism flows naturally when intelligence meets education.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  7. asdf

    Jesus wants the young and poor to die so the old and rich can live in gluttony.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Ghost

      His kingdom is not of this world... render unto Caesar that which is Caesars... Christians have been fighting and dying in war since their inception... they are not pacifistic as you liberals would like them to be or think they should be. There is a time for war and a time for peace... a time to kill and a time to heal... deal with it.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Cleareye

      Most atheists are more Jesus like than most Christians.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  8. CEC

    I do think there's a First Amendment problem with State-issued religious representatives, whose support in battle falls on the shoulders of those who don't necessarily share one of the flavors on server, or who are non-believers.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  9. Ghost

    Thats right qu33rs and Atheists... tax payer paid Clergy on the battle field... deal with it.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Chris

      So that doesn't bother you? The fact that their promoting a religion doesn't bother you? I mean think about it, this is a religious war....

      August 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  10. Ernie

    There sure seems to be a lot of hate here from the liberals, who think the nation should just sit back & let a "religion" take us over & put us in the dark ages with themselves. Yet they come unglued at the thought that our nation will pay chaplins to serve our soldiers while they fight for our freedom. God Bless our chaplins who go into harms way, unarmed, while the left sit around and rage against them.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      Hey I've got got some awesome snake oil to sell you. I'll even wear a robe and prop up a torture device in a pretty building with colored windows. We can play some music and do some songs about the snake oil. I'll even provide a book from various authors who will use odd, outdated, confusing grammar and poetry to support the snake oil. You'll totally love how hyped this snake oil will be and you'll get emotional and totally believe in it's abilities. Hurry while supplies last.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      You don't know what our wars about... but I assure you, it isn't freedom.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Johnny

      I have to thank Ernie for his contribution here... I haven't laughed this hard in a few weeks.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • J.W

      Nobody has fought for my freedom since I have been alive.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Cleareye

      Having a chaplain in a foxhole would be worthless. no gun. no ideas. Just talk. I'd prefer my foxhole was full of atheists. They worry about survival without any fantasies of going of to heaven to be with their lord or getting 72 virgins. All the same story.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  11. Elder Charles Elbert

    As tragic as war is to be able to pray in faith to God for protection in battle is just. In your life when you are at war with yourself and you find yourself in a hard place unconciously you call on God. War is ugly and yes human life is precious but tyranny is real and has to be confronted. It is honorable when men of faith stand with you in times of troublem. One day you will find yourself battleing with life or death...who do you want by your side?

    August 30, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      "If prayer worked, rich men would pay people to pray for them." - Yiddish proverb

      August 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Atheist

      Elder, what about when we become the tyrannical "with God on our side" in condoning torture?

      August 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Alan Canon

      Whatever my faith, or lack thereof, Charles, the very last person I'd want to have with me in a combat zone is an unarmed compatriot to worry about protecting, and if need be, evacuating to hospital if wounded, unless, as in the case of a medic, that person was serving an immediate practical need. My objection to having chaplains in the military is based on the Establishment Clause, and it is separate from my objection to having them in combat zones, which is entirely humanitarian. As much as I despise religion, and value freethought and atheism, I would lay down my life to rescue an injured chaplain from combat (or any other situation.) In a war zone, the potential cost to my fellow service personnel seems potentially so great that it would be better to leave them in secured areas.

      August 30, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Ed

      @Alan Canon,

      You mentioned the establishment clause, which the US government can not establish a state religion. You point is invalid here since the government is not establishing a state religion. The military has chaplains of most faiths amd many denomibnations of these faiths. This alone shows the military and therfore the government are not establishing a state religion since they did not pick one religion. The military is merily providing a serivec to the soldeirs that are serving make an ordained minister of their faith available to them.

      As for leaving them in secure ares this makes sense except it would prevent them from performing some duties need by the soldiers like last rites. But it is a logical concern.

      August 30, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  12. Tom

    Doesn't having pastors in your military violate your principles of separation between church and state? (I speak as a non-American).

    Besides, how Christian can these pastors be anyway? They can't repeat too much of what Jesus said, or they'll offend a lot of non-Christians. In which case, they may as well drop the religious aspect altogether.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      BINGO! Christianity is a total farce anyways. What do you expect from those who pray to a dead corpse, then eat it's body and drink it's blood in some sick twisted ritual. They also wear a symbol of horrific and brutal torture and death device. (a crucifix) It's beyond INSANITY.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Xilithi

      Nope, separation of church and state has nothing to do with army chaplains.

      No one is forcing the chaplains to volunteer.

      The chaplains have no authority.

      Military combat functions are not dictated by a religious dogma.

      The goals of the US can be similar to a religion however it will never (well shouldn't at least) act as a subordinate to a religion nor claim as an official religion.

      All religions are equally represented by the army chaplains.

      August 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Xilithi

      Chaplins were drafted during Vietnam.

      August 31, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      It benefits the military to allow chaplains in the service because it provides comfort to soldiers who think they're going to a magical place called heaven when they die.

      August 31, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  13. EnergyBeing3

    JESUS CHRIST WOULD NEVER AGREE TO THIS !!! ABSOLUTE BLASPHEMY !!!

    August 30, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      A point I was making... but as an atheist, I must be a religion-bashing troll.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Ghost

      Yes.... blasphemy to give dying soldiers absolution.... tard.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      Your savior would not have accompanied soldiers to begin with... "tard."

      August 30, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      From what I know about the mythical Jesus Christ, he would never agree to this or condone it. Christianity has gone on such a self-serving tangent that article like this show just how ridiculous religions become from their intended meanings.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  14. patricia

    Our pastor went over to the war as a air force chaplain. He was lucky to come back. God bless them all.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  15. ...

    William Demuth, it sure looks like you are accomplishing a great deal for your cause by arguing here on this comment page. Congrats to you!

    August 30, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  16. Silly Willy

    @William Demuth

    "I come here for the same reason the feds watch the cults"

    Ummm, those are completely incomparable.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Not at all.

      Some feds even watch the army itself for zealots.

      DO a little reading once in a while. Our Military is PACKED with Christian extremists.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  17. Je$u$ $ave$

    So, why don't we let god protect them? If "he" doesn't, maybe we then accept the two possibilities: 1)god's not cool with war of any kind, no matter how devoted you are; or 2)god is, and never was, part of the equation.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • neoritter

      non-sequitor.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      Actually, it has stronger scientific grounds than any religion to date.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Bob

      I am amazed at the trolls who, though not believing, manage to spend the larger part of each day in the religion rooms "reminding" the majority of us just how "silly" our beliefs are. What are you afraid of?

      August 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Silly Willy

      @bob – completely agree, I see them all the time here. The truth is this:

      If they actually thought they were completely right then they wouldn't come on here and bash, they'd simply ignore the articles. If they really had an open mind, they'd ask questions and raise their doubts in a calm manner. However, they don't and their trolling only proves quite the opposite.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      Silly>>> Do you read Hebrew or Aramaic? How about Ancient Greek... which the "New Testament" was written in? You know the phrase "lost in translation"? Do you think your "King James" has anything to do with the Judeo world of your savior's time?

      August 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • neoritter

      Well it's a good thing not all Christians use the KJV...

      August 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  18. Mike

    My son is a chaplain's assistant in the Army- As the article says they are the ones who carry the weapon and protect the chaplain. It would be interesting to get their perspective. They too train at Ft. Jackson

    August 30, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  19. EnergyBeing3

    @ A Theist

    It's very very difficult to use logic and reason with those who are brainwashed and delusional with religious rubbish. You realize this, right?

    August 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Jim

      It's even harder to try to use logic to reason with those who are delusional and use their own pseudo-scientific anti-religious rubbish, but are firmly convinced that they're the only logical person in the room.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Propervillain

      You mean the brainwashed and delusional who go into combat zones unarmed to minister to people? The brainwashed and delusional that have more stones than you will ever have?

      If you ever grow the b@lls to go into a combat zone unarmed then you can criticize these chaplains. Until then shut up, sip your big gulp, and try not to strain yourself too much by typing on your keyboard in the comfort of your air-conditioned room...

      August 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      Logic > Religion; as 1 > 0

      August 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      It's the medics that have the stones, pal. The chaplains are just crazy.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • neoritter

      Ah let's argue that people can't be logical by positing a logical fallacy! Brilliant!

      August 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Bob

      I continue to be amazed at the trolls who, though not believing, manage to spend the larger part of each day in the religion rooms "reminding" the majority of us just how "silly" our beliefs are. What are you afraid of?

      August 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Silly Willy

      @Jim – hahahaha that was hilarious. True and hilarious.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      Personally, I'm afraid of people who cannot get their brains going but manage to win popularity contests and become legislators. This seems like the perfect place to gain a captive audience full of the non-awakened. Atheists like logic... so there's our logic on this one for you.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Ed

      @Je$u$ $ave$

      "It's the medics that have the stones, pal. The chaplains are just crazy."

      I agree the medics have stones but I fail to see why chaplains trying to minister to soldiers makes them crazy. My faith believe in a form of last rights soldiers often miss out on this ritual when the need most, when they are dieing in service to protect you and your rights to freedom of religion. Yet wuld whould suggest that not have this freedom themselves by denying them chaplains. Does seem quite fair of you.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Je$u$ $ave$

      Ed>>> Your "god" must not be so omniscient, if "he" cannot extend last rites to the soldiers of "his" creation without the aid of a human emissary.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Atheist

      Bob: Here's what I'm afraid of: the declaration of condoms to be immoral to the point of causing thousands of deaths in Africa.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Ed

      @Je$u$ $ave$

      "Ed>>> Your "god" must not be so omniscient, if "he" cannot extend last rites to the soldiers of "his" creation without the aid of a human emissary."

      God can and does the rituals are for our benefit becasue we often need to hear them to believe in them. God does not need them but many believers do. For the believers that do having a memeber of the clergy perform the ritual can in and of its self be helpful.

      I find interesting that you never responding to the point that bith chaplians and medics have stones but as usual simply chose to try to insult god and those who beleive in them. You even did it in a very dogmatic way. Why are the atiest so very dogmatic about not believing?" it seems like a bit of a contradiction to be dogmatic about not having a dogma.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  20. A Theist

    So one Chaplain wrote a prayer that condones killing. You must be in the same camp that says, because just ONE priest is a pedophile, they all are. By your logic, everyone in the world is a terrorist, a religious nut, or a cold, calculating, murderous Atheist.

    Please, beyond the single incidences you can provide, PROVE to me–and I mean proof, not just taking things out of context and show casing the Crusade (which even the Catholics have now denounced)–that the "purpose of the clergy is to prevent moral men from leaving the battle field."

    August 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • A Theist

      Ignore this Comment, see page 1 for intended reply.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • William Demuth

      A Theist

      I wish you could have been at Lt Cl Samuel Chermans funeral after the bombing of the barracks in Lebanon.

      Sam was Corp, I was Army. I saw with my own eyes an Army chaplin tell his sister that Jesus loved her because same had died for him.

      Sam died in his sleep, and never even had bullets for his rifle.

      Yet I watched that BA__^#ard work with recruiters in the crowd at the home, trying to get more cannon fodder.

      Fu(())))k them. If I knew what I know now I would have slit his throat and put him in the box with Sam.

      They lie. People die.

      I have buried one with my own hands.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:41 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.