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The Chaplain is the Friend of Every Soldier

In 1941, as the United States was gearing up for its inevitable entry into World War 2, the Army published a booklet to prepare men (at that time) to enter the military service, titled “The Army and You.” It included topics like military courtesy, health, equipment, chow (“Good Food–and Plenty of it”!), promotions and pay; as well as what to expect at the Induction Station, Reception Center and Replacement Training Center.

Of course, one of the benefits of military service this 14-page booklet discusses is the chaplain, as did many promotional pieces of the day. Here’s the paragraph dedicated to soldiers’ religious life and the chaplain who is there for them:

The Chaplain is the Friend of Every Soldier

There are opportunities for religious worship at all posts, camps, and stations. Although attendance is not compulsory, every inducement is offered the soldier to attend church services, either at the post chapel or at the church of his faith in the nearby towns. Become acquainted with the chaplain. Part of his duty is to serve as your friend, counsellor, and guide, no matter whether you belong to his church, another church, or to no church.

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The-Army-And-You-1941-edited-25

The cover invites the potential soldier into the camaraderie found, among other places, a formation of men marching with weapons. “The Army and You,” U.S. Government Printing Office, 1941 (author’s collection).

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The Church and the Chaplain (1952)

FM-21-13-50“The Army recognizes the importance of religion in the American way of life and in your training as a soldier. For that reason, a complete program of religious training is provided for soldiers of the three general faiths, Catholic, Jewish and Protestant. This program for the spiritual and moral welfare of the soldier is the responsibility of the commanding officer and is carried out through the chaplain assigned to the unit Chaplains advise commanders in religious matters and work directly with soldiers in helping them solve their problems. The chaplains have volunteered for this duty and it is their desire to be of the greatest possible service to soldiers and their dependents. Separate religious services usually are conducted for members of the three faiths, but it is sometimes impossible to conduct a separate service for each group. When this is the case, a general religious worship service is held. Attendance at these services is, of course, entirely a personal matter, but if you participate, you will find them a source of inner strength and your job as a soldier will be made easier.

“If your church requires that you attend services of your denomination, see your unit chaplain and he may be able to direct you to a chaplain of your faith in the area, or to a church of your faith in a nearby community.

“Available to you also are other religious activities such as Sunday school classes, Bible study classes, Holy Name Societies, and the Serviceman’s Christian League.

“Remember that the chaplain is always available to help you as a personal counselor. He will be happy to talk to you about any personal problem and will try to help you find a solution. Anything you tell him is confidential and privileged. This means tha the cannot be required to repeat anything you have told him. The chaplain will visit soldiers in the guardhouse or hospital, and you may call upon him to conduct religious services such as baptisms and weddings.

“It is customary to address these officers as ‘Chaplain,’ but Catholic chaplain may prefer to be called ‘Father’; Jewish chaplains may prefer to be called ‘Rabbi’; and Protestant chaplains sometimes prefer to be called ‘Reverend.”

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Taken from FM 21-13, “The Soldier’s Guide,” Department of the Army, June 1952 (author’s collection).

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Religion Follows the Troops

Chaplain Robert P. Canis Describes How Religion Follows the Troops

Washington, D.C. [ca. 1945] – Chaplain Robert P. Canis now assigned to a general hospital in Europe has described to the General Commission on Army and Navy Chaplains, Washington, D.C. how he has conducted services in strange and inconvenient places. He pays high tribute to the response given to spiritual matters by American men in uniform. Chaplain Canis said:

“Three weeks after arriving in England, I was assigned to a general hospital. Our chapel was a Nissen hut completely furnished with every aid to worship. In May we took leave of it and ever since have worshiped in a chapel in the fields. In our England staging area that chapel was a long tent with mother earth for pews and a rough board covered with the chaplain’s blanket for an altar.

“On our last Sunday in England this chapel became the scene of a most unusual departure Communion Service. All else was already on its way across the channel. A few hymn books, and a field organ borrowed from a neighboring hospital chaplain constituted the equipment of our tent filled with officers, nurses and enlisted men seeking that extra bit of spiritual strength needed on the shores of Normandy. But in spite of the absence of every traditional touch of a normal chapel service, the atmosphere seemed more alive with honest faith than ever before. Members of all denominations came to the altar to receive the Communion. Some knelt, some stood, and some cupped their hands to receive the bread. Others received it directly in their mouths. While still others served themselves.

Continue reading this article, Religion Follows the Troops

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The Sin of Patriotism?

Most military members who I come across are patriotic, as are many people of faith. The chaplain usually embodies both of these. The below article is interesting because it addresses some of the complaints of patriotism while also being faithful to one’s religion.

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The Sin of Patriotism?1

american-and-christian-flags1It’s the 4th of July, Independence Day for the United States of America. Here in Korea (where I currently live), you wouldn’t know it from any other day (unless, of course, you’re on a U.S. military installation). But with the benefit of the Internet, there’s no escaping it…though personally I wouldn’t want to. I celebrate with millions of other Americans our hard-won independence from Great Britain 240 years ago.

Much of what I’m seeing in my Facebook feed, however, is not a positive response to it being the 4th of July. I’m not judging, but from where I sit, many of those posters seem to be speaking from their holier-than-thou ivory towers to us lowly patriotic souls who are in need of their superior spiritual insight and understanding of the mind of God. Let me explain:

First, they condemn our fight for independence as contrary to the scriptural mandate to be obedient to the powers in place over us as being instituted by God. They view the situation on the American continent of the 18th century through 21st century glasses, presuming to understand the situation our political forefathers and mothers experienced better than those who were living it.

Continue reading original…

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Originally published 3 July 2016 at Here I Sit

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