Published: Monday, May 6 2013 10:40 a.m. MDT
It seems like the Pentagon is re-defining words to suit its purposes
I'm not sure how fine the semantics get between evangelise and proselytize.
One thing is for sure, however, is that the relationship among military
personnel is such that it can become very easy for religion to become an
expectation and imposition, rather than a voluntary exercise. It has no business
in a military environment, except as a personal experience only. It poisons
environments and enables behaviour that otherwise would not occur.
“Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force
unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to
one’s beliefs (proselytization),”Who could possibly
argue or disagree with this interpretation?This should put an end to
the "war on religion" in the military discussion.
It's nice that some here seem to have it figured out but others may wonder
about the two most important words in the statement: unwanted and intrusive.
If a soldier says that he is Christian and believes in the Bible he will
probably be ok. But what if he offers his Bible to another soldier to read? If
a soldier announces to his buddies that he is a Christian and is going to church
that should not be a problem. But what if he invites some of his buddies to go
to church with him? If a soldier prays alone at his bunk before hitting the
sack no one can object. But what if he tries to organize some of his buddies to
meet each night to pray together and some in the unit feel left out or
uncomfortable because they don't share the same faith. Just exactly where
is the line that once crossed becomes unwanted and intrusive? No, I don't
think this will put an end to the discussion at all.
So, it's the difference between consensual religious discussions and forced
religious discussions, right? I see definite potential for linguistic
litigation over perceived attributions. How would one prove, or defend, intent?
I trust there will be more specific guidelines, perhaps even a rubric, to
clarify the distinction between the two scenarios.
According to my American Heritage Dictionary, evangelize and proselytize have a
virtually identical definition. The Pentagon couldn't have made things any
more confusing for the average GI.
If I were an enlisted in the Armed Forces, I would have no problem discussing my
beliefs with my fellow GIs. But if I were an officer, I would avoid even the
appearance of spreading my views of the Gospel to those under my command.
Let me help you to understand.If 2 Mormon Missionaries come knock on
my door to share their "gospel", and I tell them thanks but no thanks,
No problem.If they come back the next day and try again, that IS a
problem.Bottom line. Don't push religion where it is not
wanted. Even if you think you have a religious "mandate" to do so.
While I think it is important to set some type of guidelines I sadly have to
agree I think they just muddied the waters more not less. You will never be able
to give clear cut definitions of what is and is not acceptable in every
individual case but I think they need to keep working on a better set of
There's been a huge amount of confusion about this. Let me try to bring
clarity.At places like USAFA, Colo., you have Protestant commanders
trying to lecture Roman Catholics, Jews, and others about Protestantism, in a
very heavy-handed way.That's wrong. That is not the American
way.If those commanders need to be corrected about this basic U.S.
tenet -- they need to leave military service and re-enter the private sector.
And they can do whatever they want. That would be more honest, fair, and
Here is what I see being the distinction.A Chaplain is perfectly
free to preach what his religion is from the pulpit. DoD policy prohibits them
teach anything contrary to their established religious beliefs.Said
Chaplain can perform any rite authorized by his religion on any Service Member
wanting and qualifying for said rite. (e.g. baptism, eucharist)What
the Chaplain cannot do, or any other officer, is require a Service Member to
attend a worship service, or participate in any rite. A Soldier who
is friends with another soldier may share religious beliefs, but the moment the
receiving Soldier wishes it to end, it must. However, a leader sharing may
cross that line of undue influence.A First Sergeant in formation may
announce times for Church call, however he cannot direct that Soldiers attend
any particular service.It really isn't more complicated than
any other job and proselytizing. Would your employer like you to be using
Company time to preach? No, but they let you use the company bulletin board in
the break room to announce an activity your Church is conducting. There's
a world of difference.
When the person sharing their beliefs is is your sergeant or commanding officer,
the line between evangelizing and proselytizing could be fine indeed.
@twin lights I think you bring up an important distinction that
should be made. I think people in authority over another person should not be
evangelizing to that person at all due to the real or perceived power
difference. Such a distinction is often made in the work place with reference to
other non-work related subjects.
@Twin LightsI absolutely agree.I had a commanding
officer who liked to talk religion, and so do I. We were of different faiths,
but I understood that when we spoke like this (always off duty, or when on duty
it didn't go beyond a few minutes) it was man to man, not Soldier to
Soldier. He would make that very clear before any discussion was had. He
understood that I understood where the line was.I don't think
or feel he crossed a line because there was no coercion, nor use of Military
status, and it was not done in front of the Company, rather in private.
However, it would have been very easy to cross that line.Looking
back, it may not have been the most prudent thing to do, but I have met very few
men I respect more.
U.S. military chaplains are volunteers who have to meet qualifications for being
an officer to be accepted into the Chaplain Corps. If accepted, they become
commissioned officers who answer to the military chain of command, not to any
ecclesiastical authority.They are required to honor separation of
church and state be they Catholic chaplains, LDS chaplains, Jewish, Protestant,
Muslim, etc. The reason specific religions are represented is not to promote any
belief but to be able to minister to the spiritual needs of a diverse group of
soldiers. All chaplains, regardless of which religion they represent are
ethically sworn to answer a call to minister to any soldier seeking solace
regardless of his or her personal creed or lack thereof.Chaplains
are to be found in battle, generally not bearing arms.
Casey Ryback mentioned problems at the Air Force Academy that may have been a
spur for this policy.A few years back at the Academy the situation
with Evangelical Christians running things got to be pretty blatant:-The football coach had a big sign over his office at the Academy that said
"Team Jesus", with the strong implication that Jesus was the one
Evangelicals worshipped, not Mormons, probably not Catholics, certainly not
Jews.-Important religious meetings were held at the on-Academy home
of the Academy Commander, with suspicions from non-"Christian" cadets
that plumb assignments among the cadets were handed to appropriately worthy
believers of the same religion.-At least one lawsuit was filed, by a
2nd generation Air Force cadet who happened to be Jewish, asserting that
discrimination was occurring with preferences given to "Christian"
cadets.For LDS, this is not unlike a situation in Texas where a
highschool had an official "prayor" student body officer position who
would offer the pregame prayers before football games. Before one game the
prayer called on God to help the Catholic and Mormon kids see the error of their
RE: Casey Ryback, At places like USAFA, Colo., you have Protestant commanders
trying to lecture(Evangelize/gospel) Mormons, (Roman Catholics), Jews, and
others about Protestantism, in a very heavy-handed way. True,This is
a difficult situation for Bible believing Christians. They should not go over
the line yet They have a *command from on high as well:“Therefore *go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Mt: 28:19, The Trinitarian
Baptism formula.oman Catholics are Christians and are saved by
belief in the triune God same as Protestants.
" .. This is a difficult situation for Bible believing Christians. They
should not go over the line yet They have a *command from on high as
well:"Again -- such persons should then leave military service
and enter the private sector. Where they will be free to do what they want,
under common law.No one -- no one -- has the right to abuse, under
color of authority, the constitutional rights of others. This is the USA (at
least, for now). This is not Cuba, North Korea, China, Russia, etc. -- yet.And BTW: There's no difference between Roman Catholics
and Protestants? What about Martin Luther? My God, I cannot believe that has to
be explained, in a forum like this.
Wow, I agree with most of the comments made today. What a topsy-turvy world
we're living in these days.@donn; @What Casey Ryback said. It
The term seperation of church and state does not apply here, or anywhere else in
the constitution. If it did, then there would be no state money being paid to
military chaplins in the first place. No churches built on government property,
ect. Seperation of church and state is NOT a term in the U.S. Constitution, and
it shows by examples I've just given. It is a hope by the anti-religious
types that it be there, kind of like privacy to justify Roe/Wade. The
constitution trumps any particular judge or court. Unless we have a "living
breathing constitution" open to interpretation, in which case, we have
nothing except the whims of judges. Any citizen of America should be scared by
that system. You may like some liberal judge rulings, but one day, a
conservative judge will demolish all your liberal progress on a whim using the
same ability to "interpret". Best advise, stick with the written
constitution, and if you want more, or less, amend it.
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