• Charlotte Hunter

    Thank you for this excellent post. I am a recently retired Navy chaplain of the Christian persuasion–a Christian Scientist, to be specific–and I was and am dismayed at the repudiation by the House of Humanist chaplains. In 2007 I conducted a series of surveys, via the Defense Equal Opportunity Climate Survey, that showed (at that time) more than 24% of military members claimed no religious preference, and of this number a high proportion were nonbelievers . . . higher, by far, than the percentages of Jews, Episcopalians, and several other well-known faith groups represented by chaplains. Often people with whom I share this conviction was say, “But what would a Humanist chaplain do?,” their perception (apparently) being that chaplains spend a lot of time in a pulpit of some kind. This simply is not true. The majority of a chaplain’s week is consumed with counseling, visitation, listening, and advising; only a tiny portion of a chaplain’s week is spent in worship activity. Even so, I see no reason why Humanist chaplains cannot and should not hold a service appropriate to any seeker of truth who happens to be in uniform; moral truths shared without mention of a god or gods may yield powerful results. This House, alas, appears unable to reflect on Christian privilege, but it is my hope that Humanists, atheists, and agnostics in the military will not have to wait too long before they are recognized and honored. Humanists, atheists, and agnostics deserve to be represented in the military chaplaincies, to have someone to whom they can turn for the sort of understanding and confidential counseling that chaplains have long provided.