Friday, January 06, 2006

Klingen to Jesus

Navy Chaplain Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt is starving himself to death in front of the White House hoping to get the President to force his commanders to allow him to pray in public in Jesus Name. Another victim of the secular mafia’s war on Jesus? Has the Navy aligned itself with the Anti-Christ? Or is this guy nuts?

I go with nuts. I was a chaplain in the Unites States Air Force for three years. Had I not been seduced by the bright lights and big money of synagogue life, I would still be a chaplain today. I loved the military.

I attended Chaplain Boot Camp at Maxwell AFB, and spent eight weeks with some of the finest, most intelligent and committed men and women I have ever met. They were devoted advocates of their respective faiths, and at no time were any of us told to be otherwise. Yet, the chaplain's job is complex.

A big part of my job was to serve the religious needs of Jewish military personal and their families, and I did this as a rabbi with the full support and encouragement of the United States Air Force. But I was also called upon to address groups that weren’t exclusively Jewish, and to minister to Air Force personnel who were not of my faith. I didn’t do this as a rabbi, I did it as a military chaplain.

A chaplain’s faith has to be strong enough that she can step outside the boundaries of her particular tradition to reach people of very different traditions. There is no need to hide your faith, but you have to be careful not to let it become a barrier between you and the person who comes to you for help and counsel. The chaplain doesn’t have the luxury of preaching to the choir. If you cannot step outside yourself, you cannot be an effective chaplain, and do not belong in the chaplaincy.

Lt. Klingenschmitt wants to reach out to everyone the way he reaches out to his fellow Episcopalians. This is totally inappropriate. It makes him ineffective as a chaplain. If he cannot speak to me of God without imposing his faith upon me then he cannot help me at all. If he cannot pray in a manner that includes everyone in his prayers, then he cannot do his job. There may be no atheists in foxholes, but they are not all Episcopalians either. The chaplain's job is to bring God to soldiers, not just Christian soldiers.

If Lt. Klingenschmitt wants to starve himself in front of the White House, it is his choice. He isn’t the only one starving in DC. But he is dying for ego and not for God. I wish Rev Klingenschmitt well in his ministry, but he does not belong in the chaplaincy.

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