Every now and again, I find myself shaking my head in disgust over the most recent attempts of Progressives to diminish freedom and to trivialize the profound. At those times, I inevitably mutter: “what’s next?” I just found out: atheist chaplains in the military. From Fox News:
Members of Congress are set to square off over a push to create military chaplains for people who do not believe in God.
The effort to create a chaplain for atheists and ‘humanists’ has been building over the last several weeks. While the title might sound inherently contradictory, supporters say the point is to give atheists in the military someone who will pro-actively reach out to them and facilitate meetings.
Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Free Thinkers, claims that 23 percent of those in the military ranks assert no religious preference. And he argues chaplains are not providing enough “positive outreach and support” in the way ‘they do for all of those beliefs that aren’t their own.
Hmm. Congress doesn’t have anything important to do? Fortunately, not everyone buys into this:
When it comes to the idea of an atheist chaplain, which is an oxymoron — it’s self-contradictory — what you’re really doing is now saying that we’re going to replace true chaplains with non-chaplain chaplains,’ said sponsor Rep. John Fleming, R-La. ‘It’s just total nonsense, the idea of having a chaplain who is an atheist.’
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who is also an Air Force chaplain, said he often dealt with atheists who were simply asking about their problems.
‘What I have found is so many times people in our world today just need someone to listen,’ he said.
But he questioned the idea of creating a new atheist-specific position, as there are other counseling services available.
“They need to come at it differently instead of just saying we want an atheist chaplain,” Collins said. ‘I think there’s plenty of opportunities for them to talk.
Some are willing to compromise, but for people like this, there is no such thing:
The Armed Forces has counselors of all kinds, including psychologists and psychiatrists. While calling a newly created post something else — like a counselor — might sit fine with the military, it doesn’t satisfy those who specifically want a non-faith chaplain established.
Torpy said current chaplains are not doing enough to embrace non-believers. Further, in response to the effort to require chaplains be affiliated with an endorsing faith, he said the Humanist Society is recognized as a religious organization by the one agency that matters, at least for taxes — the IRS.
Well of course. They’re appealing to the most powerful force in the known universe: the IRS. No wonder atheist chaplains make sense to them.
But in a broader sense, this is just another progressive attempt to control the culture. Common progressive tactics rely on co-opting the language. Words, particularly names, are powerful. War becomes a “overseas contingency operation,” and the vicious terrorist attack at Ft. Hood becomes “workplace violence.”
If progressives can change names, they can change perceptions, because we take important cues from names, which describe things. “Chaplain” has very clear denotations and connotations. Merriam-Webster denotes chaplain as:
1: a clergyman in charge of a chapel;
2: a clergyman officially attached to a branch of the military, to an institution, or to a family or court.
1: a group ordained to perform pastoral or sacerdotal functions in a Christian church
2: the official or sacerdotal class of a non-Christian religion.
“Sacerdotal” simply means: of or relating to priests or a priesthood.
The most common connotation of “chaplain” is a priest, pastor, rabbi, etc. serving in the military. In the civilian world, clerical titles are based on faith traditions. Catholic and Episcopalian clergy are priests, and addressed as “Father.” The clergy of other Christian denominations are commonly addressed as “Pastor,” “Reverend,” “Minister” or “Brother.” In the military, chaplains are often addressed by their rank, or by the clerical terms common to their denomination, or simply as “Chaplain.” What all have in common, however, is that they are clergy, certified and ordained by their respective faiths.
What then to make of an “atheist chaplain?” It’s an oxymoron: mutually exclusive terms. When one considers that military chaplains also serve as non-denominational counselors for those of any faith or no faith, what is going on? This is particularly perplexing in that the military also has psychologists, people who profess no faith and don’t use faith in their work, and they are available to any service member. Atheist chaplains would seem to be an ingenious solution to a non-existent problem.
But then we return to the never-ending goals of progressivism. First, by establishing the precedent of creating and naming “atheist chaplains,” they create a government supported and sponsored position of “moral” authority, ignoring, of course, the fact that such people have no tradition and history of moral/religious teaching upon which to draw. Atheism, after all, rejects the very notion of religion, therefore, the very notion of a priest. Once such a position is established, it builds its own power and constituency from within the military structure, gaining more funding and power as time goes on, until it gains sufficient power to directly influence every aspect of military life. Think of atheist chaplains as the military’s own version of community organizers.
Secondly, the institution of atheist chaplains would inevitably, incrementally seek to crowd out and eventually supplant the position of the legitimate clergy in military life. Once that is done, it is far easier to enact the kinds of social engineering changes progressives live to impose on others and society. It is no coincidence that in nations with progressive, socialist or communist governments, religious life is impoverished or all but invisible, having little influence on national and political life.
In intent and tactics, this is nothing new. But it is cruelly and disgustingly cynical, un-Christian and un-American.