The Chaplaincy Shortage and the Great Crock of BS

The Chaplaincy Shortage and the Great Crock of BS October 13, 2013


In order to become a chaplain there are a few requirements one must fulfill. And with the recent “controversy” surrounding these Chaplains being placed on leave without pay and whatnot I thought there needed to be some clarification. Some of the more right-wing disengenuous folks are trying to push this narrative that Chaplains are being forced out of the military and leaving service members without any ‘spiritual support’.

What I find interesting is that the same people bitching about it are the same people saying that I’m ‘wormfood’ if I die (remember a Christian congressman said it – not an atheist or a humanist) and said I don’t deserve a Humanist Chaplain. So while it’s okay for me to be left out in the cold when I’m in need of talking to someone privately about any issues I may be having (because I’m an atheist) it’s not okay for the rest of the military that are believers. I guess that ‘no religious test’ thing in the Constitution doesn’t matter much to these folks. But what’s new?

So here’s the controversy:

All these right-wing morons (Glenn Beck and Co) are complaining about how Catholic Priests will get arrested for having Mass. People are blaming the Obama Administration for going after the Catholic faith and not giving equal support to the Catholics serving in the military.

and here’s the skinny:

All these Catholic Priests (that are Civilians being paid by the Department of Defense – and therefore are not even actually Chaplains) are not being paid – just like everyone else who is furloughed. They can show up to Mass and give a service if they so desire. But they won’t be PAID! It all boils down to the mighty dollar…which may not be so mighty after this Thursday – but that’s another issue entirely.

Basically, it’s a headline grabbing lie

Oh, and it’s still a big contentious issue for Humanists to have a Chaplain. I’ve contemplated writing a diatribe on that. Perhaps sometime in the short future.





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  • My understanding is that They can show up to Mass and give a service if they so desire. But they won’t be PAID! isn’t accurate, since there’s a law on the books which says something to the effect that in the event of a government shutdown, jobs which had been done by paid workers cannot be switched over to other continuing-to-be-paid workers or to unpaid workers.

    So, the problem is colorably a result from the priests ever having taken government money for priestly duties in the first place; or from another angle, the disastrous mix of the religious sin of simony. and the secular sin of religious establishment. Had the Chaplains done as God and Madison wanted, there would be no problem; but instead, they foolishly mixed God and Mammon.

    • Paul Loebe

      Right, like the veterans monuments that are closed down? Like that’s being enforced. Let’s play ball here. How bad would the political publicity be if they started kicking pastors off base?

      What they really need to do is take more Catholic Chaplains. Most chaplains are evangelicals.

      • Ryan Jean

        The problem, Paul, is that (as I pointed out in my other comment, since vanished) there is a law, called the Antideficiency Act, that dates from the late 1800s and bars exactly the kind of volunteer work that you imply can continue unabated.

        The jobs of furloughed federal employees cannot be taken over by exempted employees unless they shared the same basic job functions and it’s a workload increase only, and the furloughed employees cannot volunteer to do any work on behalf of the federal government.

        If you had said “there’s enough Chaplains to go around, and I’m sure they can spread out to cover down, but this shows how they still don’t give a damn about non-theistic Chaplains like I applied to do” (or, I would remind you, like Lay Leaders as I had also applied for) then I wouldn’t have had any problem with it. As said, however, it is inaccurate.

        • Paul Loebe

          Then we agree. Perhaps I articulated it poorly in my response. There are enough chaplains to go around (not necessarily Catholic chaplains) and then there are also lay-leaders who can take that position.

          However, it’s still a bogus headline-grabbing attempt to seek attention over a real non-issue.

        • The Antideficiency Act is the one I had in mind, yes. (Since it has little to do with my own day-to-day life, I didn’t recall the details, or even recall the name well enough to look it up.) I wasn’t aware that chaplains could cover for contractors, but it seems plausible enough for me not to go reading the US Code. Regardless, I’m not thrilled with military chaplains getting paid by the Government, rather than by the sponsoring denomination — which would seem a more separationist approach.

          The monuments (or at least, the WWII and other open-air in DC) may be a completely different question; I’ve heard that the Parks Service contingency plan actually called for that sort to be left open but unattended, unlike national parks, which were scheduled to be closed. However, I’ve again not bothered trying to find, read, and understand the whole plan for myself; so that may well be inaccurate.

  • PNW

    From what I’ve gathered, seeing a counselor goes on your record. What if we made that private like the chaplains. Would that help at all?

    (Not counting the fact that I think not allowing non-religious chaplains is illegal. Or the way the military chaplains aren’t divided based on percentage of troops identifying with that religion.)

    • Paul Loebe

      Since counselors aren’t embedded with troops while deployed overseas that would still not work.

      And if you want a ratio but don’t agree with non-religious Chaplains then what about the nones? Who represents them…?

      • PNW

        I think humanist chaplains should represent the nones

        • Paul Loebe

          Then we are in agreeance.

          • Matt Davis

            The problem is with the use of the word “chaplain”. That’s why the right-wingers are making a fuss. Maybe an equivalent post could be created for Humanists that uses a non-religious name, such as “support officer” or something, and he’d be equivalent to a chaplain in every other way. That might help keep the fundies at bay, at least a bit.

  • Maybe someone needs to talk to the Obama Justice Department which is currently in Federal District Court (FFRF v. IRS – IRC 107 Challenge) arguing that the Government may be ready to officially recognize “Atheism” as a religion and Atheists as “ministers”.

    Just sayin’!

    • Paul Loebe

      haha. It might be Obama’s attempt to circumvent all these rules for atheists. I for one no longer give a shit. Recognize it or don’t. I’m in this to fight the theocrats. I don’t give a rats ass about the rest of what’s going on.

  • busterggi

    Why does the omnipotent god need lackies to do his work for him?