A group of former chaplains has issued a letter supporting the appointment of humanist chaplains in the military, which is in line, I think, with how most chaplains view their job. Most chaplains, I’m told, are not like Gordon Klingenschmitt. Most of them see their job as helping all soldiers, regardless of their religion, without proselytizing. The letter says, in part:
Military chaplains exist for the sake of their service members, not the other way around. Every service member has a constitutional right to the free and unfettered exercise of their religious beliefs, without regard to dominant theologies, orthodox doctrines, or privileged status…
The growing visibility and demands of Humanist troops for the appointment of chaplains who can nurture and support them further strains the sensibilities of many conservative chaplains. Those unable to care for a diverse and altogether unfamiliar clientele may find their gifts and skills more useful in some other area of ministry,and this might actually be the most honorable course of action for them to minister with integrity.We the undersigned strongly support the recruitment and retention of highly qualified, clinically trained chaplains who are representative of and committed to a chaplaincy reflecting a broad and inclusive range of interfaith, multicultural and diverse life experiences. This inclusive outreach extends to chaplains representing the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities of faith, and to those of minority beliefs, including Humanists and other nontheists. They, too, are valued members of our country’s military and must be embraced fully. Our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and Coast Guardsmen deserve nothing less!