Tmatt, in Texas, with iffy WiFi (and a GOP jab)

Bluebonnets 01In a few hours, I am headed out the door on a long trip into my home state of Texas (I am a prodigal Texan) to visit several campuses in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (see a new trend story here) on behalf of the journalism program that I lead here in Washington, D.C.

The big event during the trip is the CCCU’s global forum on Christian higher education, which may or may not draw press attention.The forum will include a visit by the Soulforce Equality Ride bus, which will almost certainly draw press attention. I hope to have another chat with the Rev. Mel White.

I will spend several days on the long and flat highways of the state so I, for one, am hoping that I have my timing right for some bluebonnets (see photo). The divine Ms. M and young master Daniel (and perhaps even the Rt. Rev. LeBlanc) will, I hope, keep things buzzing during the next week or so because my Internet access may be iffy, other than during the Dallas forum.

But before I go I wanted to draw a connection between three very different stories in three very different publications that all point, in a way, to the very same theme that comes up quite frequently at this site.

So click here for the omnipresent Democratic strategist Amy Sullivan, writing in Washington Monthy about the factors that may, sooner rather than later, cause many evangelical Protestants to bolt the Republican Party.

Then click here to skip over to the Weekly Standard website to read Allan Carlson’s sobering “Social conservatives and the GOP: Can this marriage be saved?”

JesusLand2 01Wait! Before you settle in and read those two articles, read this quotation and ask yourself this question: Who wrote the following, Carlson or Sullivan?

… (All) is not well within the existing Republican coalition. Indeed, there are other indicators that the Republican party has done relatively little to help traditional families, and may in fact be contributing to their new indentured status. Certainly at the level of net incomes, the one-earner family today is worse off than it was thirty years ago, when the GOP began to claim the pro-family banner. Specifically, the median income of married-couple families, with the wife not in the paid labor force, was $40,100 in 2002, less than it had been in 1970 ($40,785) when inflation is taken into account. In contrast, the real earnings of two-income married couple families rose by 35 percent over the same years (to nearly $73,000). Put another way, families have been able to get ahead only by becoming “nontraditional” and sending mother to work or forgoing children altogether. As the Maternalists had warned, eliminating America’s “family wage” system would drive male wages down and severely handicap the one-income home. So it has happened.

Despite the economic pressures, though, such families are not extinct. They still form core social conservative constituencies such as home schooling families and families with four or more children. But again, they have little to show from the years of the Republican alliance.

Can you guess? I point this out simply to note the ongoing political irony of our age. The middle class, for the most part, continues to vote (some would say against its economic interests) for the Republican Party — primarily because of moral and social issues. Meanwhile, a rising percentage of the rich, especially along the coasts, has been voting (against its economic interests) for the Democratic Party — primarily because of moral and social issues.

No matter what some people say, these issues are not going away. To see why, click here and read Janet Hook’s “Right Is Might for GOP’s Aspirants” in the Los Angeles Times.

My question remains the same: Will editors in top-flight newsrooms allow their religion-beat specialists to help cover this story?

They should.

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The Times tweaks its credo

BillKeller 01This is one of those rare weeks when I think that GetReligion readers may want to read my “On Religion” column for the Scripps Howard News Service.

In a way, it is a sequel to an earlier column about the New York Times and its internal theological debates about journalism and religion. This column also blends in a reference to executive editor Bill Keller’s must-read memo entitled “Assuring Our Credibility,” which was the subject of a classic GetReligion post by the Rt. Rev. Douglas LeBlanc that ran with the spiffy headline “The creeping menace of diverse voices.” That post includes some pretty important links, for those of you who want to dig deeper. I will include a few links in the body of the following column, as well.

Special thanks to Bill Keller himself, who sent me the full text of the speech that I heard him deliver at the National College Media Convention. I had good notes, but it is always better to have the full text. I will watch to see if the text goes online anywhere.

NEW YORK – The New York Times has for generations printed its credo on Page 1 to inspire the faithful: “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

But times changed and the high church of journalism was challenged by radio and television news, which was followed by a tsunami of news, rumors, opinions and criticism on 24-7 cable news networks and the Internet. The result has been a subtle change in doctrine at the Times, although the Gray Lady’s motto has stayed the same.

Around-the-clock competition has “caused us to shift our emphasis from information as a commodity and play to different strengths — emphasizing less the breaking facts than the news behind the news, writing more analytically,” said executive editor Bill Keller, speaking at last week’s National College Media Convention.

“We long ago moved from ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print,’ to ‘All the News You Need to Know, and What It Means.’”

Keller’s address blended confessions about the newspaper industry’s sins with a litany of praise for journalistic virtues. Journalists at the Times, he insisted, still practice what they preach, remaining “agnostic as to where a story may lead” and maintaining standards of accuracy and fairness that prevent the “opinions of our writers and editors from leaching into our news pages.”

However, he also said he believes that “information is not what people crave. What they crave, and need, is judgment — someone they can trust to vouch for the information, dig behind it, and make sense of it.”

The question is whether critics, especially those in religious sanctuaries, will trust Keller’s team to provide an unbiased take on the news and then, as a finale, pass judgment on “what it means,” said former New York Daily News reporter William Proctor, author of “The Gospel According to the New York Times.”

“This intentional change in the motto — even if it won’t be printed by the newspaper — suggests to me that editorializing is being placed on an equal footing with straight news,” he said. The new motto seems “to be saying, ‘We’re recognizing that opinion has a larger role than the editorial or op-ed pages. In fact, opinion now has a place in the news itself.’”

200px The new york times building in new york cityMeanwhile, critics may remember Keller — who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting in the Soviet Union — as the Times columnist who once called himself a “collapsed Catholic” and lashed out at Pope John Paul II and the Vatican for rejecting female priests, gay rights, legalized abortion and the sexual revolution in general.

The struggle within Catholicism, he wrote, is “part of a larger struggle within the human race, between the forces of tolerance and absolutism. … This is, after all, the church that gave us the Crusades and the Inquisition.”

However, as executive editor, Keller produced a 2005 manifesto (PDF) urging his staff to improve religion coverage, avoid the misuse of loaded labels such as “religious fundamentalists” and hire qualified journalists who offer a diversity of “religious upbringing and military experience, of region and class.”

Journalists at the Times, he said, must strive to escape “our predominantly urban, culturally liberal orientation, to cover the full range of our national conversation. … This is important to us not because we want to appease believers or pander to conservatives, but because good journalism entails understanding more than just the neighborhood you grew up in.”

This candor is refreshing, said Jay Rosen, who leads New York University’s journalism program and has written a provocative essay entitled “Journalism is Itself a Religion.” The problem is that many journalists want to escape old-fashioned straight news, but they don’t know what to call their new product. It’s hard to distinguish between news “analysis” and “opinion” writing that reflects the beliefs of the writer.

“If I gave you a passage from the Bible and said, ‘Analyze this,’ you’re not going to know what to do with that unless you have a perspective from which you can do your interpretation,” he said.

Keller’s reference to his newspaper’s “urban, culturally liberal orientation” is a candid first step toward “identifying a worldview,” Rosen added. “But when he says that the Times needs to tell us what the news means, does that mean that it’s going to tell us what the news means from that particular perspective — that view of the world — or from some other perspective?”

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Be afraid, be very afraid

07Oh no. Are we now going to face Easter Wars (inspired by the thumping media success of the Christmas Wars)?

Here’s the news.

St. Paul City Office Boots Easter Bunny

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Easter Bunny has been sent packing at St. Paul City Hall.

A toy rabbit, pastel-colored eggs and a sign with the words “Happy Easter” were removed from the lobby of the City Council offices, because of concerns they might offend non-Christians. A council secretary had put up the decorations. They were not bought with city money.

St. Paul’s human rights director, Tyrone Terrill, asked that the decorations be removed, saying they could be offensive to non-Christians. But City Council member Dave Thune says removing the decorations went too far, and he wonders why they can’t celebrate spring with “bunnies and fake grass.”

OK, I guess that Christians are supposed to be offended that the wretched bunny and the fake eggs are getting the boot. But what if citizens were, as Christians with some sense of history, offended by the bunny in the first place?

Is that a news story? And has anyone else out there seen signs of Easter War coverage?

Meanwhile, let me post this little advertisement in a shameless display of pre-Pascha public relations. Anyone tired of bunny world can wait another week this spring and celebrate Pascha with the Orthodox. Here is a nice, simple Indianapolis Star piece on the Lent and Easter traditions in the East. Some of you have written me emails asking if I was going to mention the Orthodox traditions on these seasons.

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Eye on the right (no liberals in sight)

billboardsTim Graham is a conservative writer for the conservative Media Research Center who has done lots of conservative research showing that mainstream journalists tend to use labels like “conservative” too much.

Which is all well and good. What he has long found interesting, however, is that this tense era is literally crawling with “conservatives” who are in mortal political combat — especially on religious and moral issues — with people who are very rarely labeled at all and, certainly, are rarely called “liberals.”

Graham — a conservative, by the way — has a post up right now taking a few shots at a long, page one Washington Post report by Thomas B. Edsall that ran with the headline “Grants Flow To Bush Allies On Social Issues: Federal Programs Direct At Least $157 Million.”

GetReligion readers will be stunned to know that people who back a conservative approach to faith-based ministries are doing well when it comes to landing grants from a new, conservative-sponsored program that is set up to promote faith-based ministries. Edsall writes:

For years, conservatives have complained about what they saw as the liberal tilt of federal grant money. Taxpayer funds went to abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood to promote birth control, and groups closely aligned with the AFL-CIO got Labor Department grants to run worker-training programs.

In the Bush administration, conservatives are discovering that turnabout is fair play: Millions of dollars in taxpayer funds have flowed to groups that support President Bush’s agenda on abortion and other social issues. Under the auspices of its religion-based initiatives and other federal programs, the administration has funneled at least $157 million in grants to organizations run by political and ideological allies, according to federal grant documents and interviews.

Note the “what they saw as the liberal tilt” language, as if there were no objective facts available for discussion in a major newspaper.

For example, Edsall notes that crisis pregnancy centers and anti-abortion groups have received more than $60 million in grants. This, for me, raises a pretty obvious question — especially after the previous “liberal tilt” language. How much does, let’s say, Planned Parenthood get in taxpayer money?

Well, a conservative, anti-abortion site — drat, there’s that word again — that stores public reports on this kind of thing says (follow the URL for documentation) that Planned Parenthood received $265.2 million in 2003-04 (hat tip to Dawn “friend of this blog” Eden). It would also be interesting to compare the numbers on grants to groups that take a conservative, evangelistic approach to salvation issues, as opposed to the groups — liberal? — that take a hands-off, many-roads-to-the-same-God stance.

But here is the Edsall paragraph that irked that conservative guy named Graham.

The Education Department awarded a $750,000 discretionary grant to the GEO Foundation, run by Kevin Teasley, a former staffer at the libertarian Reason Foundation and conservative Heritage Foundation, and conservative Center for the Study of Popular Culture, to “provide outreach and information” on public-school choice. The department also awarded $1.5 million over three years to the conservative Black Alliance for Educational Options, which was created in 2000 with support from such funders on the right as the Bradley, John M. Olin and Walton Family foundations, to provide information about the No Child Left Behind Act.

This one paragraph contains a few of the dozen or so “conservative” flags in this one story. Who are the critics of these new faith-based programs? Was any of the information used in this story actually gathered by groups that might be called “left of center” or something like that?

Thus, Graham ends with this conservative conclusion:

Is it biased to write a story like this? No. It is biased to write this story — but not display an interest in writing a similar story on subsidizing liberal and libertine groups years ago, when the Clinton administration was handing out money to NOW and its social-issues allies.

By the way, I think I used the word “conservative” fewer times than the Post story did.

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Martyrs and magistrates

ArabicBible2In Afghanistan, Abdul Rahman is facing execution for the crime of converting from Islam to Christianity.

This story is huge in the European and Canadian press and gaining coverage stateside every day. Similarly, other countries seem to be officially condemning the action more than U.S. officials have thus far. German and Italian officials have condemned the human-rights violation but so far the only words from America’s executive branch came from the third-highest senior official at the State Department. And, from Reuters, check out his rousing defense of a man who is about to die for the crime of converting from Islam to Christianity:

“We hope that the Afghan constitution is going to be upheld and in our view, if it’s upheld, then of course he’ll be found to be innocent,” said Nicholas Burns, the State Department’s third-ranked diplomat.

An Afghan judge said on Sunday a man named Abdur Rahman had been jailed for converting from Islam to Christianity and could face the death penalty if he refused to become a Muslim again. Sharia, or Islamic law, stipulates death for apostasy.

“While we understand the complexity of a case like this and we certainly will respect the sovereignty of the Afghan authorities and the Afghan system, from an American point of view, people should be free to choose their own religion,” Burns told reporters …

The Bush administration may need to bring out a slightly bigger gun — and slightly more compelling rhetoric — if it wants to help Rahman. But why hasn’t Bush addressed the matter? And why aren’t reporters asking him about it?

Bush held a press conference on Tuesday morning where reporters had the chance to ask hard-hitting questions and put him on the spot. Why not ask him why American soldiers are dying in Afghanistan so that a government that executes Christians can be put in place? For a media obsessed with President Bush’s supposed hardline Christianity, they could press him a bit. Or maybe they were too busy composing really tough questions such as “Why did you really want to go to war?” Seriously, Prison Fellowship’s Chuck Colson is tougher on Bush than is the press corps:

Is this the fruit of democracy? Is this why we have shed American blood and invested American treasure to set a people free? What have we accomplished for overthrowing the Taliban? This is the kind of thing we would expect from the Taliban, not from President Karzai and his freely elected democratic government.

The Times of London had an interesting article complete with a list of areas where Christians have been persecuted in recent years. They talked with the judge deciding whether an Afghan man should be executed for converting to Christianity. The judge says he does not understand what the big deal is:

“It is a crime to convert to Christianity from Islam. He is teasing and insulting his family by converting. In your country (Britain) two women can marry; that is very strange. In this country we have the perfect constitution, it is Islamic law and it is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished.”

The paper had some great analysis and perspective on the situation, including this bit of intel from Rahman’s cellmate (Rahman is not allowed to speak to reporters):

Sayad Miakhel, told The Times: “He is standing by his words; he will not become a Muslim again. He has been a Christian for over 14 years. It is what he believes in . . .” Mr Miakhel, 30, said that conditions in the prison were basic, with 50 men to a cell built for 15. “Most prisoners have food brought to them by their families, but none of Abdul’s family have been to visit. I’m not sure how he is eating.”

“He seems depressed. He keeps looking up to the sky, to God,” said Mr Miakhel.

Most reporters are doing a good job of using Rahman’s story as a hook to explore the lack of religious freedom in Afghanistan, but one reporter’s story stands out in particular. Kim Barker, a foreign correspondent with the Chicago Tribune, has a meaty piece that explores the family drama that led to Rahman getting busted, describes the religious landscape in Afghanistan and includes some frightening and violent quotes about what Rahman faces. Barker worked on the Tribune‘s series, “Struggle for the soul of Islam,” before taking a job covering Afghanistan. Here, she provides some perspective:

Rahman’s trial, which started Thursday, is thought to be the first of its kind in Afghanistan. It goes to the heart of the struggle between Islamic reformists and fundamentalists in the country, which is still recovering from 23 years of war and the harsh rule of the Taliban, a radical religious regime that fell in late 2001.

Even under the more moderate government now in power, Islamic law is supposed to be followed, and many believe it requires the death penalty for anyone who leaves Islam for another religion.

noose2There was also an interesting and noteworthy headline change to the piece. The original headline was:

Afghan man faces death for being a Christian
Prosecutors, judge, family insist convert should die

It’s been corrected to read:

Afghan man faces death for abandoning Islam
Prosecutors, judge, family insist convert should die

It’s an important change and one that reporters, copyeditors and editors should keep in mind with this story. Technically speaking, converting to Christianity in a Muslim country will probably not get you killed or otherwise punished — so long as you are not Muslim to begin with (thae judge’s comment above notwithstanding). Certainly non-Muslims are not viewed the same way as Muslims from a legal standpoint — and this caveat manifests itself in wildly divergent ways — but it’s not being Christian that is the crime. Rather, the crime is leaving the Muslim religion.

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Do swing voters go to church?

JesusLand2Want to see an op-ed piece that misses the big picture? Check out the “Swing Is Still King At the Polls” essay today in the Washington Post by former Bill Clinton pollster Mark J. Penn. It’s another attempt to throw cold water on debates about the red vs. blue divide in the 2000 and 2004 elections.

The point of the essay is simple: There is a big and important mushy zone between the pure red voters and the pure blue voters.

Well, duh. This has been a constant theme here at GetReligion forever and ever, amen. The evidence is that there are hard blue zip codes on the left (secularists and the strong religious left) and hard red zones on the right (traditional religious believers with major clout in the Bible Belt and, thus, the U.S. Senate). As I keep saying, you really need to read that “Tribal Relations” piece in The Atlantic Monthly.

But back to Penn. I really hope the Post balances this piece — quickly — with an op-ed by someone (Hadley Arkes perhaps) who understands the role of moral and cultural issues in the red vs. blue era. Yes, friends and neighbors, Penn writes about red, blue and swing voters and totally ignores the very issues that have defined the era. He also seems to have missed the point that the red vs. blue divide is not a pure divide between the GOP and the Democrats. There are red issue voters stranded in the Democratic Party. Then again, perhaps that is why Penn does not bring them up, since it is not in his interest to mention that. This is the hot story as the Democrats ponder what to do with, for example, abortion and the definition of marriage.

Try to find an awareness of these tough issues in this Penn language:

… (O)utside the Beltway, trends show that voters are increasingly open and flexible, not rigid. They are looking at candidates’ records and visions, not their party affiliation. In the past 50 years independents have grown from one-quarter to one-third of the electorate, according to Gallup polls. In California, the number of independent voters more than doubled between 1991 and 2005. The fastest-growing political party in the United States is no party.

According to the American National Election Studies at the University of Michigan, the number of split-ticket voters in the electorate — meaning people who vote for a Democrat for president and a Republican for Congress, or vice versa — has gone up 42 percent since 1952. That shows a radical new willingness on the part of Americans to look at individual candidates, not party slates. It is a sign of a thinking electorate, not a partisan one.

Read Penn’s piece. Did I miss something? Can anyone find any threads in it linked to faith, morality and culture? Where has this guy been for the past decade?

At this point, we do not know what will happen to the voters who pivot on the faith and culture issues, for the simple reason that both parties are a bit scared of them at the moment (even the GOP). But those issues will not go away, and it will be impossible to ignore them forever.

SantorumBookLET ME JUMP IN with a quick update: Here is a story by David Kirkpatrick — who covers the conservative disputes beat at the New York Times — that certainly shows the role of social issues in one of the hottest contests in the nation. That would be the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania.

It’s a solid story — a variation on the right-wing signing up pastors template — but with one element that is rather buried at the end. What happens when churches on the left do the same thing (or take hot issues into the pulput)?

This is how the story ends. I think this element needed to go higher, with more info. Were these events similar?

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the network reflected “a growing backdoor, under-the-radar effort to lure churches into political campaigns” that could risk their tax exemptions.

Michael Geer, the president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute and a speaker on March 6, said such critics were trying to “squelch the free speech” of conservative pastors. No one complained, Mr. Geer said, when opponents of the state marriage amendment had an organizing meeting last week at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Harrisburg, Pa.

But were materials from any candidates put in the spotlight at the Lutheran gig? Were the materials tightly linked to the social issues being discussed in the forum? That’s the thin line people are walking on the left and right.

That’s what we need to know. Like I said, the social issues are not going to go away.

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“God is not creating new terra firma”

logan circleThe Washington Post carried an interesting religion story Friday on an issue that directly effects my life as a member of a church that meets in the congested heart of the nation’s capital. Gentrification, parking and religious discrimination are all factors in this story and I found it interesting how the article handled each.

Here’s what we’re dealing with:

The District plans to issue tickets to illegally parked cars outside a cluster of downtown churches beginning in May as it undertakes a citywide review of a long-standing practice that police and traffic officials have largely ignored.

The city’s Department of Transportation may also let congregations apply for permits that would allow their members to double-park during services — a proposal that is provoking criticism.

This week, the agency caused confusion with an announcement indicating that the District would ticket double-parked cars outside congregations across the city.

A reader of ours, Chris Blackstone, left us some very intelligent comments regarding this story, stating that the parking issue is becoming more and more of an issue as wealthy white residents move into predominantly older D.C. neighborhoods with large established churches. This is known as the most significant social trend in Washington right now as the city revitalizes itself and neighborhoods like Logan Circle, Chinatown and Dupont Circle become attractive places for developers to build $500,000-plus condos.

Blackstone believes this story is driven by these new residents who don’t appreciate double-parked cars and blocked driveways on Sunday mornings or evenings. Older residents who have lived in the neighborhoods for years find the church part of the scene and don’t mind the crowded parking. Sticking mostly to what officials told him, Post reporter Paul Schwartzman misses this factor, but it’s tough to blame him because the story landed on page six of the metro section. The newspaper’s editors apparently didn’t see this story as much of a priority.

church parkingGetting into the meat of the story, Schwartzman found a local resident, Todd Lovinger, who leads the battle against double-parkers and opposes the idea of churches’ applying for special permits that would allow their members to double-park during church time:

“They’re trying to make it appear that they’re doing something, but they’re allowing an exemption that nullifies what they’re doing,” Lovinger said. “It’s a giant loophole.”

Lovinger called the proposal “unconstitutional” because “it exhibits a bias to one religion, namely the Christian churches that assemble on Sunday. Jewish congregations have the same problems on Friday and Saturdays, but the District is not addressing that.”

Rice said the transportation agency is “happy to work with” any religious institution and community enduring a similar parking crunch. And he countered the complaint that parking permits amounted to a loophole, saying applicants would have to testify before the agency’s Public Space Commission, which would decide on issuing exemptions.

That’s a nice back-and-forth there between the Transportation Department’s Bill Rice and Lovinger, but did Schwartzman consider finding out the number of synagogues in Washington, as Blackstone pointed out? Or mosques? It would be interesting to know, for one, and could also nullify that argument, despite the agency’s promise to work with all religious institutions.

Parking near churches on Sundays in Washington is certainly an issue. Parking at my church, which meets in Chinatown, is always a hassle unless one arrives at least 30 minutes before the 5 p.m. service. Parking in Dupont Circle (where my girlfriend lives) is always difficult on Sunday night when an area church has its service.

So from both perspectives, as a congregant seeking a parking spot and a person battling churchgoers for parking spots, it affects my life. While I appreciate this one article on the matter, a more thorough look at the various aspects would be nice.

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Should we ban military chaplains?

48502 mr chaplain CU031216 2762 stI want to revisit the always hot topic of free speech and military chaplains, because of a very interesting op-ed column in the Washington Post. We rarely deal with editorial page offerings here at GetReligion, but this piece anticipates where this hot story may be headed.

The column was called “What the Military Shouldn’t Preach” and it was written by Scott Poppleton, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. He is boldly asking a simple question: Are military chaplains appropriate? Are they even legal? Another question looms in the background: Is it legal to force soldiers to listen to prayers and/or evangelistic messages by clergy who are not of their own faith? Here at GetReligion, I have been asking: Is it legal to require chaplains (if they want to be promoted) to voice prayers that require them to water down, if not violate, the doctrines of the faith in which they are ordained?

According to Poppleton, it is now time to take a radical step. He believes the military services should create secular counseling services, thus removing the government from the religion business:

We are well past the point where we need to reset the baseline of individual religious freedom in our military. The first step is to provide clear-cut regulatory guidance to our commanders and chaplains requiring them to keep their religious views to themselves other than in personal settings or at church. If a solemn occasion is appropriate at a military ceremony, implement a moment of silence, as we do at every public school in our nation.

The next essential step is to reform our dedicated and government-paid chaplain corps into a nondenominational and non-religious counseling service to aid our commanders in helping everyone under their leadership. Let the counselors help with the drug, alcohol and family problems that face our forces. Give civilian clergy the right to preach and teach in the chapel. In deployed locations, provide time and space for service members to conduct services.

In other words, replace chaplains with counselors and then allow civilian clergy in a wide variety of faiths — from Baptist to Buddhist, from Catholic to Muslim — to come in and lead worship services and other activitities in which they would not be expected to compromise on issues of doctrine.

Instead of a lowest-common-denominator theism for military life, you would have a secular approach to military life backed up with a free-market system for worship.

This raises all kinds of questions, but they are questions that are already haunting military life. What happens on battlefields? On submarines with limited space? In military hospitals? Will there be no clergy in those locations at all (if local civilian clergy cannot get there on their own as Poppleton proposes)?

These are tough questions, but they are no tougher than the questions raised by the current system, in which one base may include soldiers representing a dozen or more faiths. How many chaplains can the military afford to fund for any one location so that no one is offended? Now flip that coin over. Can the military honestly expect clergy in traditional faiths to compromise on their own beliefs, in order to serve as shepherds for soldiers from a wide variety of flocks?

As I keep saying, this story is not going to go away.

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