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.

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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.

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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.

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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. Andrew

    Complete misuse of Christ, his concept, abridgement of everything he said NOT to do. The U.S. Armed Forces: Fighting Religious Extremism with Religious Extremism.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Psalms 144:1


      May 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  2. Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    You must except my large Meat Balls into your mouth and be touched by my Noodly Appendage or you will be forever put in the left over tupperware and subjected to endless cycles of microwave reheating.

    “I am the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Thou shalt have no other monsters before Me. (Afterwards is OK; just use protection.) The only Monster who deserves capitalization is Me! Other monsters are false monsters, undeserving of capitalization.”

    Suggestions 1:1

    May 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Delusions 5:25 Hail unto Thee, for Thyself art One and True.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • jim thane

      my point about atheists....

      May 27, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Grendog


      I believe in the SAUCE!
      (If only to avoid endless microwave reheating)

      May 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Example of carnally thinking, doing, outcome at it's finest failure.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster


      You MUST except my giant Meat Balls into your mouth, heart, and soul or your eterneal reheating will be most unsavory.

      "Since you have done a half-ass job, you will receive half an ass!" The Great Pirate Solomon grabbed his ceremonial scimitar and struck his remaining donkey, cleaving it in two.

      Slackers 1:51–52

      May 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Carnal Revelations 3:16 Oooh. Do that again.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Grendog

      "Unsavory" LOL again.
      I like this God. Unlike most this one has a sense of humor.

      Pastafarians believe that ghost pirates are responsible for all of the mysteriously lost ships and planes of the Bermuda Triangle. Pastafarians celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19.
      Love it!

      Consider me a newly converted Pastafarian

      May 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  3. Mohammad A Dar

    he followed his hindu soul, filthy desire and believed it as of God, truth absolute in his hinduism, ignorance, hinduism, denial of truth Christianity, hindu Mithraism, filthy savior has no room in domain of truth absolute, GOD, he still lives by in his hindu Judaism, filthy secularism, believing it to be God, the truth absolute but of hindu devil in reality.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • jim thane

      another point about atheists

      May 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  4. Caneworld

    What amazes me is that a simple story of a man who set out to help those struggling with the effects of war (- whether you agree with it or not is not the point) brings out such hate from so called "atheists" .

    THis is the story of a man who helped others and struggled himslf with PTSD, yet chose to continue helping others while some of you"religion haters" can sit behind and spout hatred from your selfish, unfulfilled lives.

    Yes, religion might be a crutch to some, at least it helps them walk and do good to others.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      he is nothing but a hindu, ignorant believing some thing of hinduism, darkness as light, American hinduism terrorism in Iraq is not some thing of noble nature but hinduism, criminality, he supported with his hindu fabricated faith as truth absolute.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  5. smk

    In Quran God speaks to the whole humanity ....

    “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]

    God will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary did you say to the people, `Make me and my mother idols beside God?' " He will say, "Be You glorified. I could not utter what was not right. Had I said it, You already would have known it. You know my thoughts, and I do not know Your thoughts. You know all the secrets.[5:116]

    The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! [5:75]

    (they are condemned) for disbelieving and uttering about Mary a gross lie. [4:156]

    Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous. Quran [5:46]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  6. George Clooney

    Only stupid people believe in a kind of "patriotism" when attacking a country without a proper reason. US Govt is doing a good indoctrinating....

    May 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      and since there is a need to keep young people "on track" in such a meaningless, misguided enterprise, you need "chaplains", to keep them "on track", and deal with the fallout from the venture, which at some level, they recognize, as pointless.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    I guess, the modern wars have something to do with the search for economical benefit and not so much with righteousness (this is only a presumption of mine, which I cannot prove).

    In Munich/Germany you can scarcely still find a German bricklayer on a buildingsite. They all come from Turkey, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, etc.. It seems that at least the German building trade depends on foreign laborers, because they find no more German skilled workers or apprentices fpr bricklayer.

    One could say: "Ain't we good people? We give them (the foreigners) work and bread. At home they could earn nothing."

    Yet, one could also imply that we have become to proud to let our children undergo an education as a bricklayer, carpenter, electrician, painter, taylor, etc.. But maybe we underestimate the challenges of these jobs. If we once have lost that know-how, it will be hard to get it again and we will more and more depend on the foreigners.

    We want our children to become scientist, engineers, teachers, secretaries, physicians, lawyers, bank clerks and the like.

    Yet, consider that even a BMW needs some tires and cannot be used without tires, which are made in China or elsewhere. I want to say that if we don't let our children train the "simple" jobs, we risk to lose the tires of our economy. We don't need only very high educated people, but also skilled laborers.

    We let our children rot in idotic schools, where they only learn to use any formulas, which have nearly no relation to reality. We need schools, which educate more related to practice, so that the pupils can finally apply the formulas at their workplace.

    Doing this, it would not be necessary to destroy other countires, in order to gain useful slaves or skilled workers.

    This comment is only a hypothesis. I don't know, if this corresponds to reality.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • galaxy101

      Seems to correspond to reality. Your post also reminds me of one of the top ten lies of all time. You hear it everywhere, but especially in America... "We need the illegals around to do the jobs Americans won't do". .. or some similar variation.

      It's a flat out lie. Utterly, thoroughly and completely. Why? Because the lie stops short. The REAL and truthful statement is as follows: "We need the illegals around to do the jobs Americans won't do, because we are only willing to pay slave wages under slave conditions, NOT minimum wage."

      May 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  8. George Carlin

    As George Carlin once said in New York City, "Keep thy religion, to thy self." How come there aren;t any Jewish Rabbis in the military helping out the CHOSEN people. And how come there aren't any Imams helping their followers? Well, Muslims are terrorists as we all know, and the Jews are the anti-Christ because they don't follow Christ. You know what, I'm actually cool with Christianity being bestowed upon everybody now.

    That was all sarcastic, except for the George Carlin part. But that's how reality looks like.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Mark Taylor

      Study your subject before making assumptions. There are in fact Jewish and Muslim chaplains in the US military. I know, I was in the USAF for 7 years and those faith had clergy in uniform and the chapel is multi-purpose.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • EdL

      Must be pretty nice to be one, or the one, who knows what reality is.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  9. martog

    No matter how you dress it up, there are some fundamental difficulties with Christianity that are pretty hard to overcome.
    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.
    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.
    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.
    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.
    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.
    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.
    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Ho.rus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).
    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.
    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.
    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.
    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.
    9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.
    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?
    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • jim thane

      nice C&P. those seem to be the problem with organized reliigion as a whole. It is thankful those of us who believe in something greater, dont have to rely on dogma.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • LouAZ

      Hey, that's no fair – applying reason and logic and requiring proof of ANY kind ! Hellejulia !

      May 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Martog, very well put.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Mark Taylor


      #1: Wouldn't God be something eternal and infinite therefore not bounded by the constraints of time? Ever read up on the very precise rate of expansion of the universe in the first seconds after the big bang? It's amazingly precise to allow formation of hydrogen from sub atomic particles. if 15th decimal was off by 1, no hydrogen which is sort of a really big deal.

      #2: God has to be eternal, not bound by physical time and space. Before you scoff, read up on String Theory and the proposed 11 dimensions theoretical physicists believe to exist.

      #3: You have a misunderstanding. God would be perfect, unable to be tainted by imperfection; hence the need for a mediator. The consequence of not accepting the gift of the mediator is eternal separation from God. Hell is a metaphor for condition of the psyche, not a literal place (though some believe in an actual place of torment and a guy with pointy horns and a tail. That isn't Biblical.

      #4. Over 2,000 ancient manuscripts corroborate the life of Jesus. The Trojan War is accepted as fact on the basis of 75 ancient manuscripts.

      #5. I agree that the creation story appears to be based on the story of the seven spirits of creation. However, just like we cannot see the future, the past is hidden over a horizon that we cannot see. Myths (stories depicting a fundamental truth) are created to explain things that are over that horizon. People of that time could never understand the concepts of micro-biology and DNA, etc. Highly suggested reading is book by the head of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins who used logic and scientific fact to support the Theory of Evolution... but he also shows that it is not incompatible with Christian belief.

      #6. Please provide a reference to any place in the Gospels where the narrative indicates something that Jesus said or did that was mean and inhumane.

      #7. I agree that non-Christians can have a moral code that is very very similar. My wife is one of those folks actually.

      #8. Your assertion regarding authorship is absolutely incorrect, see my reference to the 2,000 ancient manuscripts. You need to be a little more studious on this topic. You are passing along popular here-say without doing the study.

      #9. Science cannot be used to prove or disprove God – Even Brian Greene will tel l you that. What we do know for sure is that some kind of spiritual practice will in-fact strengthen – PHYSIOLOGICALLY – the areas of the brain where empathy, gentleness, etc are located. This has been shown to be conclusive in an 18 year study that involved lots of BRAIN SCANS in highly reputable research facilities (See "How God Changes Your Brain" for a book by the scientists who ran this study). There is an exception – sects who are motivated with anger and fear – that's NEVER a good thing. Jesus was anything but angry and fearful.

      I am not trying to convince you of anything; however, since this is such an all-important life-issue it can't be taken lightly with proclamations made on here-say. Suggest reading up on Cosmology, especially topics about the very early universe, read up on Pascal's Wager (google it, it's all over the place), The Language of God by Francis Collins (head of Human Genome project) and How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newburg, MD (that 18 year study). Whatever you decide, now or later, at the very least you will have read some fascinating books by important Scientists of our day. People make an awful lof misinformed assumptions about what scientists today believe and the limits of science in a temporal universe.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • CJ

      Well said!

      May 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • martog

      Mark, please try reading 'The God Deluion' by Dawkins.
      I don't claim to know if god exists or not, but religion is pure manmade crap,,,, that I AM certain of!

      May 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Hitchens

      Dawkins is not worth the paper he is printed on.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • martog

      Mark, please remember, the Bible is the OLD Testament as well. Without it there can be NO new testament. You either believe it ALL or it's pure made up BS. There is NO in between.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Mark Taylor

      @martog – not that Richard Dawkins did not offer one single scrap of empirical evidence in his book The God Delusion. The book How God Changes Your Brain is chock full of empirical evidence and in fact the authors call Dawkins out for his lack of scientific study to back his writing.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  10. ReclaimMarriage

    All this is coz of the gay's they allowed to openly serve in the military. Devine retribution.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • martog

      Lets see, we've got angry gays, and polite gays, angry Christians, and polite Christians, angry atheists and polite atheists, angry agnostics, and polite agnostics, a few naive onlookers and a whole bunch of a**holes.

      What should that tell you?
      Tells me that you can't all possibly be right.

      How in the h*ll does it infringe on your world if a couple of that love eachother want tone married? It doesn't. And to take a 'stand' against it doesn't make you a better Christian or a patriot, it makes you a bigot who refuses to accept someone who's different. If God didn't want people to be gay he wouldn't have made gay people. And make no mistake, some folks are just born gay. Deal with it.

      I've known plenty of gays and lesbians who are wonderful people, and can't fathom that they'd be turned away at the gates of heaven. What I can imagine, is someone who lived their life with the audacity to tell others what God wants or doesn't want, based loosely on the words of a bunch of guys who were last in the line of a few hundred year-long game of 'telephone', being given a second look at those same gates.

      If two people are in love and want to get married they should be free to do just that. No government, no ballot, no society, and certainly no book should have anything to do with dictating otherwise. Period.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Ho'mophobes get off on male erotica. Here's the proof : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772014

      May 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  11. Donald Woods

    I'm a 70 year old army tank driver, in the old army, I never once seen a chaplin, I was assigned too the 1st recon squadron seventh army europe patrolling the east german border during occupation. My superiour's told us G.I's quit whineing, stiff upper lip, you're in the army now, you're not behind the plows, start digging that ditch, you SOB...cus you're in the army now. I say they oughta do away with the chaplins corps, and tell all military personal, you signed up for this, you're getting paid good money, so quit whineing or else we'll throw you in the stockade, you big baby!!!

    May 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      How many times did you get shot, have your friends blown apart?

      May 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • rftallent

      You answered part of my question. My father joined the army at age 16 and was stationed in Germany during WWII. He seldom ever talked about the war, and only when asked. I know that he saw some horrible things (his entire squad, save for himself and one other soldier, were blown up on a bridge), but he never used it as rationale for his life after he came home. He told me about losing a pair of leather gloves with rabbit fur lining when they were attacked in a house in Germany. I searched and searched until I found a replacement pair, and at Christmas when I gave them to him, he cried. I had only seen him cry once before and that was at his brother's funeral, so I'm sure that they stirred a memory. As for me, I thought I was doing a good thing, and to make him cry crushed me. After he died I found the gloves in his chest of drawers, unworn, as well as a volume of videos that I had bought for him about WWII, still sealed. All of my friends fathers had served in WWII, and none of them "cracked up" (as we would've called it) when they got home. I feel like much of it had to do with the warm welcome they received from our country when they returned home. I think all of the "pride in our military" as a country ended with the Vietnam war, though it wasn't the soldier's fault. Like their fathers before them, they were following orders, but our country turned their backs on them for a war that we didn't believe in. Since that time you hear more about PTSD, and soldiers coming home addicted to drugs, and committing suicide (my cousin who fought in Viewnam was one of them). Sometimes I wonder if the results are more about the wars, or the reaction that the soldiers receive upon their return.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  12. Amanda Hugginkiss

    What this article really is is a very poorly veiled plug for the author's (a CNN writer) book.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  13. Lyn

    It bothers me that he specifically chose to go to war with his religion to push it on vulnerable scared soldiers. It is as if he is admitting that they get the best conversions through monopolizing fear.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  14. allenwoll

    On the one hand, we need to take good care of our returned veterans and their families.

    On the other hand, THESE wars are different from, say, Vietnam : These men are volunteers ! . They bear the same personal responsibility for what has happened as do the Politicians, the Generals and the Military-Industrial Complex. .Claiming that one was merely "obeying orders" went OUT with Nuremberg ! ! !

    This truth is NOT an excuse for abusing them upon their return, though it MAY be the basis for prosecution !

    May 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  15. robert

    There are many forms of traumatic disorder...Watching young loved ones suffer from brain cancer, dying very, very slowly, try that out sometime....
    PTSD and the help provided to victims of this should not be restricted to those who served in uniform.
    It is fitting that there is so much attention paid to those in uniform.
    Everyday there are feature stories on the news, suprises in airports, in classrooms, flyovers and recognition at ballgames in every sport, sports stars, singers, all testsifying for those in uniform and that is great..
    Look around in the airport sometime and see the victims of illness flying all over the country in a desperate effort to survive and then think about the caregiver who is desperately trying to keep their loved one in the world and the horrible toll (trauma) that it takes on their minds...
    At least one group gets this recognition and are actively sought out to help and very much rightly so...
    What caregivers of the ill need are uniforms.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Edwin

      Nice post - thank you.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  16. Amanda Hugginkiss

    So... The reason he went out there is because that is where he could find people who are emotionally vulnerable and impressionable to his preachings?!?! Thats a fairly common recruitment technique used by cults..... Although I'm not sure the Hari Krishnas would stoop that low.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Edwin

      That is one way to interpret it, but until you have been on combat you don't really know what it's like.

      Instead of seeing him prey on the weak, consider that he might be offering a life preserver to some who are emotionally drowning. Sure, it is a Jesus-flavored life preserver, but to the truly desperate ANY help is greatly received.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Amanda Hugginkiss

      I have been in combat, and would have truly peed on an electric fence if I thought it would help my men. But that is the true injustice of sending preachers out to the war zone.... its a fake life preserver and probably does more harm than good to our troops long term mental health. The army (Army, Marines, etc.) needs many more highly trained and educated war zone councillors and fewer untrained preachers/councillors with alterior, religous motives.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Ann

      Amanda – thank you for your logic AND your service.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  17. JasonKL

    People are very hung-up on the religious aspect of chaplains, for obvious reasons I suppose.

    In my military experience though, the chaplain is almost more of an all-purpose "guidance counselor". He's the guy you can talk to about your marital issues, your kid having ADHD, your mother being senile, your house back home going into foreclosure, or whatever other personal problems a guy may have. Generally, their advice is fairly practical (they tell you to do things like "get Skype and talk to her face-to-face every week" as opposed to just "let's bow our heads in prayer"). The religious tint is there (stronger with some chaplains then others), and religious services are available – but from what I the primary role of the chaplain is to be sort of an all-purpose shoulder and listener. That's very important, especially to younger troops.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Amanda Hugginkiss

      Hi Jason.... Very true; those are my observations as well. I have always wondered though why the Army doesnt use highly trained and experienced guidance councilors instead of religous hacks. Our troops mental health would probably improve greatly if we put war zone counciling in the hands of professional councilors instead of those who are largely untrained and have alterior (religous) motives.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Edwin

      I think his advice - get Skype - says a lot. He could advocate more prayer, more reading of the Bible (and I'm sure he does when appropriate), but he understands that emotional stability is not built on religion - or at least not on religion alone.

      I'd bet the non-religious soldiers around him benefitted from his counsel, too.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • JasonKL


      I think it is because, for better or worse, the need to present tough-guy image is still very strong in soldiers (especially younger ones). They will go see and speak to a chaplain – because there's no image loss in religion even if, behind closed doors, what the soldier is actually getting is counseling about his personal problems without much or any focus on religion. But if you put a counselor in place and call him a counselor, young soldiers will see it as emasculating and will not go, so they're not as likely to get the help they need. Wrapping it in the plausible deniability of religion allows men to get counseling without losing face.

      That is just my opinion on it based on my own experiences with young soldiers, though.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  18. A Serpent's Thought

    People who do not have a conscience knows very little about goodness overcoming wickedness! To have a conscience is to know of truths that cannot be measured without the knowledge of evil, vile and wickked causations!

    May 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      "To have a conscience is to know of truths that cannot be measured"


      May 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • LouAZ

      Your comment makes as much sense as a Dennis the Menace one frame "story" –
      Joey – "How many things are invisible ?"
      Dennis- "Lots, but we don't know how many to count because we can't see them."

      May 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • jim thane

      interesting comment.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Has NOTHING to do with "wickedness". Take a Psych course, old man. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy

      May 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  19. LouAZ

    The use of supernaturalism to manipulate and control people is the world's oldest confidence scheme, it relies on the ritual abuse of children at their most impressionable stage by adults who have themselves been made childish for life by artifacts of the primitive mind.- "Your Mom" on a CNN comment.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • jim thane


      May 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  20. robert

    Perhaps what America's service men and women need is professional counselling rather than the B.S. of a con-artist. Why is a secular government paying someone to preach bronze age myths to soldiers in distress rather than applying sound mental health therapies? Let this witch doctor stand in his vat in the US. Those that are putting their life on the line to save the world from religious extremism deserve better.

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

      Perhaps what America's service men and women need is professional counselling rather than the B.S. of a con-artist. Why is a secular government paying someone to preach bronze age myths to soldiers in distress rather than applying sound mental health therapies? Let this witch doctor stand in his vat in the US. Those that are putting their life on the line to save the world from religious extremism deserve better. AGREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

      I agree.

      Chaplains of any religon should have NO place in the military.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • A Serpent's Thought

      @ robert,

      Sound mental health therapies? Take these pills 3 times daily and I will see you next month therapy? Since when does the pill replace the anguish and "emotional" pains of life's societal ills' confrontations? Take this drug for that emotional fixaton and do not drink any alcohol! Mental haelth is fast becoming a fattened pig soon ready to be butchered and skewered for the pit! Just another tac on the wall of vanguarded jugular sedition!

      May 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Edwin

      If the majority of soldiers are religious, and we as a country are asking them to kill and die for their country, what possible justification can you see to deprive those people of the comfort they might find in religion?

      Sure, pressure is intense, and some religious people try to prey on the weak and vulnerable. But religious comfort means a lot to a lot of troops, and it should be offered to those who wish it. Religious counseling IS helpful to many - and a good chaplain knows enough to recognize when something else is needed.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • r2g

      Because a chaplain doesn't charge you anything for you to be able to talk to him or her. What's even better: It actually helps.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Se'x "means a lot to a lot of the troops". Provide them with prost'itutes also, right ?

      May 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Religions are hinduism, criminality of hindu santans, filthy goons of Egypt and Persia by subordinating teachings of truth absolute to hinduism, denial of truth absolute in hindu Judaism, filthy secularism to deny humanity their equality, word religion does not exist in divine language, condemned, never condoned by truth absolute, THE GOD HIMSELF,

      May 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Poe

      To Edwin.

      What right do I have? My tax payer dollars should not go to fund other peoples religious beliefs. There are plenty of civilian religious organizations they can give their money and hearts to without the my tax dollars funding it.
      Furthermore, if my tax dollars are going to go to stress relief to my fellow soldiers it is better spent on USO music/comedy tours and better recreation facilities on overseas bases.
      For truely severe mental health concerns soldiers need real doctors and real help not some fairy god father to make false promises. If they want that, they can outsource it to civilian religious businesses.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
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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.