Army Proclaims Day of Prayer and Fasting… on Passover

The U.S. Army’s Chief of Chaplains, Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Carver, has decided to proclaim today a “Day of Prayer and Fasting” (PDF)

Whereas the Chaplaincy, as spiritual leaders, model faith and belief in the Hand of God to intervene in the course of history and individual lives;

I therefore call the Chaplaincy to a Day of Prayer and Fasting…

It’s not just that an army representative of all faiths and no faith is calling today a Day of Prayer — it’s that he is calling for this day to happen on one of the holiest of Jewish holidays:

One Jewish member of the Army who received Carver’s proclamation said it is “an insult to all Jews.”

“Asking Jewish members of the armed forces to fast on that day displays unconscionable arrogance by the Army Chief of Chaplains,” said this person, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution.

Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is taking action by sending a letter to military officials:

We believe the Constitutional difficulty with this particular pronouncement from the Army Chief of Chaplains is its erroneous assumption that a theological unanimity pervades the military chaplaincy and the general military population. This basic error is most notably expressed in the Chief of Chaplains’ “Proclamation to Pray” where he states:

“Whereas the Chaplaincy, as spiritual leaders, model faith and belief in the Hand of God to intervene in the course of history and in individual lives;”

This particular theological assertion is not a grounding belief for all military chaplains nor does it appropriately articulate a core understanding of the practice of military chaplaincy…

… we clearly conclude that it is violative of the No Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to, and Clause 3, Article 6 of, The United States Constitution for the Army Chief of Chaplains to unilaterally dictate a specific ecclesial response (“A Day of Prayer and Fasting”) or to designate a specific day for the observation of sectarian practices outside a particular spiritual tradition.

So far, no word of any response…

***Update***: I have to include Richard Wade‘s comment/song here :)

I am the very model of a modern Major General,
I’ve information vegetable, animal and mineral,
I’m very used to people doing everything I tell them to,
And being Chief of Chaplains, I know more of God than any Jew.

So when I say you’re gonna pray and fast don’t hand me intellect,
Just snap to your attention, and salute me and then genuflect!
The First Amendment can be damned and so will you if you cross me,
‘Cause my religion is the one we’re doing here in this Army!

If Passover is on my Day of Prayer, too bad, you’re in a jam.
You’re gonna burn in hell no matter what, so I don’t give a damn.
You Jews, you Muslims, Hindus and you motherfucking atheists,
You’re gonna pray just when I say, and like it. Now don’t get me pissed!

I know that God is on our side, and He is a Republican.
We’ll conquer heathen nations for His glory and do what we can
To rid the world of evil lib’rals and all those disgusting gays,
So you get started praying, and I’ll think up some more special days!

My Proclamation is not for discussion, I have spoken now,
The Army Chief of Chaplains has the final word on sacred cows.
In short in matters vegetable, animal and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major General!

(Thanks to Emma for the link!)

  • Jasen777

    What do they expect chaplains to do?

  • Erp

    Which ‘they’?

    Military chaplains should be providing ministerial support for members of their own faith, see that members of other faiths get ministerial support, act as general support for all people in the service, be a religious expert for the hierarchy. The chief chaplain should be aware that it isn’t a good idea to call for a general day of fasting and prayer for all his chaplains (not all religions have days of fasting and prayer) especially not when it overlaps a day that many of his chaplains (i.e., the rabbis) are required to celebrate as a feast.

    Ideally the chief chaplain should be the administrative head not the religious head of the chaplaincy program. He can decide which chaplains go where but he shouldn’t decide when and how they or anyone else in the army should do their own fasting and praying. There are two exceptions; he can and should keep chaplains from trying to convert soldiers or violate the first amendment in regards to establishment or free exercise. He can, if his denomination but not the army has given him the power, give religious instructions to chaplains in his own denomination. If Carver speaking as the senior Southern Baptist chaplain had limited this proclamation to Southern Baptist chaplains, it would have been ok.

  • Richard Wade

    I am the very model of a modern Major General,
    I’ve information vegetable, animal and mineral,
    I’m very used to people doing everything I tell them to,
    And being Chief of Chaplains, I know more of God than any Jew.

    So when I say you’re gonna pray and fast don’t hand me intellect,
    Just snap to your attention, and salute me and then genuflect!
    The First Amendment can be damned and so will you if you cross me,
    ‘Cause my religion is the one we’re doing here in this Army!

    If Passover is on my Day of Prayer, too bad, you’re in a jam.
    You’re gonna burn in hell no matter what, so I don’t give a damn.
    You Jews, you Muslims, Hindus and you motherfucking atheists,
    You’re gonna pray just when I say, and like it. Now don’t get me pissed!

    I know that God is on our side, and He is a Republican.
    We’ll conquer heathen nations for His glory and do what we can
    To rid the world of evil lib’rals and all those disgusting gays,
    So you get started praying, and I’ll think up some more special days!

    My Proclamation is not for discussion, I have spoken now,
    The Army Chief of Chaplains has the final word on sacred cows.
    In short in matters vegetable, animal and mineral,
    I am the very model of a modern Major General!

  • Ulrich

    Brilliant!

  • Skeptimal

    Should any members of our armed forces be fasting on any day? Really? They kinda need their calories for things like staying alert and kicking ass. I know this is just chaplains, but please…even the Bible ridiculed a king (Saul?) who made his army fast before a battle.

    Mr. Wade: nicely said.

  • http://www.aperfectfool.com Codswallop

    The funny part about all this is that Passover doesn’t actually start until sundown tonight. (For religious purposes, Jews read the words in Genesis–”and there was evening, and there was morning, one [or the first] day” to mean that “days” actually start with evening. How’s that for literalism!) And even better than that is the custom of “the fast of the firstborn,” wherein a Jew who happens to be firstborn in his or her family is expected to fast until sundown on the day before Passover, in sympathy with the innocent firstborn Egyptians who died in the final plague. For firstborn Jews at least, Thursday is already meant to be a day of fasting and–one would think–prayer.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Some background on Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver:


    Carver told an Alabama Baptist church in 2006 that converging disasters like devastating hurricanes, simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and America’s allegedly crumbling moral fiber convinced him the devil was turning up an attack on the United States.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Jasen777: “What do they expect chaplains to do?

    Erp: “If Carver speaking as the senior Southern Baptist chaplain had limited this proclamation to Southern Baptist chaplains, it would have been ok.

    Chaplains are not appointed to further their own ministries, they are put there to meet the spiritual needs of Army personnel. That’s where many Evangelical chaplains have failed badly. They are not appointed only to serve members of their own faith, and they should be cognizant of and sensitive to personnel who do not share their faith. If Carver, as Chief of Chaplains in the Army is not even aware of the schedule of major religious holidays of a religion as large as Judaism, then he is not competent for his post.

  • Devysciple

    [...] decided to proclaim today a “Day of Prayer and Fasting” (PDF)

    Errr, I guess you got something wrong there. It’s supposed to be DPF, not PDF…

    ;-)

  • Erp

    I agree chaplains are not appointed by the government to further their own ministries. However I suspect the senior Roman Catholic military chaplain has a great deal of say on how subordinate Roman Catholic chaplains carry out their religious duties to Roman Catholic soldiers.[1] It is when they try organizing the religious duties of non-members of their faith that they step over a line. I do wonder how many UU military chaplains there are (the most likely group to have atheistic chaplains)? They have a website http://uumm.blogspot.com/ and also http://clfmilitary.uurgl.com/moodle3/

    [1]Theoretically the Catholic church could make the senior Catholic chaplain subordinate in religious matters to a military subordinate but I don’t see them doing this. Note that it is the Catholic church not the Army that would determine who is in charge in Catholic religious matters. I suspect the Catholic chaplains have their own mailing list of just Catholic chaplains for sending out info that is specific to Catholic chaplains.

  • Dallas

    Mr Wade: Wonderful! Gilbert and Sullivan would be SO proud of you!

  • postsimian

    Does Richard ever put his songs to music? If not, he really ought to!


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