First the military said it had no need for atheist chaplains, then the southern Baptists said they would not serve LGBT, and now Catholic chaplains don’t have to serve LGBT as well–and we can presume none of them will serve atheists still.
We should just get rid of military chaplains and replace them with counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and prostitutes.
I mean really, the military is supposed to be a super intense experience of learning new trades, experiencing new cultures, and aggressively representing, uhhh, defending the country. It’s not a normal situation–nor will piloting drones from work near home make it normal.
Without chaplains recruiters would have to do a better job of sorting through the new recruits to find those that really shouldn’t join but do anyway. It used to be that if you were a little off it was recommended to join the military to get your head and “heart” straight–or at least find a legitimate outlet for your uncontrollable aggression, uhh, desire to fight for your country.
Without chaplains religious weddings would have to be performed outside of military service. A justice of the peace, captain, or other legal emissary could certainly perform a civil service. Those too snobby for that can wait as, as the heart grows fonder with distance. OK, they could skype in a religious person for the ceremony. Or they could time their wedding to RNR or between terms.
Military funerals can be just that. military funerals. It’s too complicated to follow native funeral rites; there are just far too many sects, denominations, and religions to serve every type of funeral. When one joins the military it should be understood that you may not get the funeral of your religion. If this is just too much perhaps religions should develop a lay standard for funerals in the field for the military or provide an exception if in the military. Most religions do have a kind of funeral service for those away from home.
For serving the sick, chaplains have often served as a liaison to the rest of the military because the military did not embrace the utility of counselors, social workers, and psychiatry. But that’s all changing. Rather than having to have multiple sets of chaplains with the accompanying difficulty of getting the right sort of chaplain to the patient on time, a secular social worker or counselor could better triage the patient’s needs without having to compromise their own beliefs and standards.
While the new Catholic edict says chaplains must ensure that LGBT get the legal benefits, this wouldn’t even be an issue for a secular counselor and would prevent trauma for both the patient and the chaplain. The patient gets the benefits they deserve and the chaplain doesn’t have to feel compromised or challenged, negatively affecting the patient-military relationship.
Trained counselors would better recognize the symptoms of depression, anger, and anxiety modern fighting methods and situations incur. Wounds of the head and “heart” are more prevalent than wounds that create scar tissue. Chaplaincy cannot make up for the growing need for trained intervention and prosthesis that is not related to religion but is now often dealt with by chaplaincy as first server.
If psychologists and psychiatrists were as prevalent as chaplains and cooks there would be fewer post-military issues. Those who shouldn’t still be in the military would be discovered more rapidly and psychological issues would be better dealt with during military tenure when it’s most effective rather than dumping compromised soldiers on a castrated VA medical system where they currently don’t even get adequate support negotiating postmilitary care. These soldiers could be treated and released with an honorable discharge rather than the vitiating, VA-benefit-denying and employment-killing general discharge. General discharge is used too often to punish those with personality disorders and substance abuse issues. Any soldier who has served a term deserves a decent discharge, medical care, and VA benefits. Severing them from the military system creates a radicalized class of trained soldiers very unhappy with the military to which they volunteered to die. They deserve and earned more even if they fucked up.
Removing chaplains from the military would also eliminate the temptation to make every battle a religious battle, every war a religious war. War now more than ever is a difficult and treacherous sociopolitical excursion. With far fewer deaths and wounds there is much less desire to obliterate, exterminate, or eliminate a country with which we are at war. Respecting foreign politics and social norms is more important than ever–as fun as it is you just can’t pee on the bodies of dead enemies anymore. Secular counselors would help create and foster an empathy for all humans and encourage the use of minimal force required. If religion were not involved with the military there would be no religious reason to do war and less war.
While rape of women is in the news, rape of men in the military is more common. Acknowledging that rape is not singularly an issue of power disparity, legalizing and normalizing sexual counselors, surrogates, masturbation, and prostitutes, and removing the stigma of sexual relations during military service would help eliminate rape and other psychological issues that arise from the suppression, oppression, and repression of sexuality.
The refusal of Catholics and baptists from performing their duties to all soldiers may have the benefit of making it obvious that secular and universal care is the better way to go. Replace them all with trained and secular staff blind to bias and prejudice.
Jim Newman, bright and well