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prisonchaplain

Navy chaplain faces discharge for intolerance

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What is the job description for a military chaplain?

 

M.

 

From the Navy's website:

"As a Navy Chaplain, your job spans a broad range of duties, seeing people through some of their most joyful moments to their most personally challenging. And it could include any of these responsibilities:

  • Conduct worship services in a variety of settings
  • Perform religious rites and ceremonies such as weddings, funeral services and baptisms
  • Counsel individuals who seek guidance
  • Oversee religious education programs, such as Sunday school and youth groups
  • Visit and provide spiritual guidance and care to hospitalized personnel and/or their family members
  • Train lay leaders who conduct religious education programs
  • Promote attendance at religious services, retreats and conferences
  • Advise leaders at all levels regarding morale, ethics and spiritual well-being"

 

I know I'm taking the unpopular position here, but I believe this man has no place in a military chaplaincy. It is the job of a chaplain to provide spiritual support and guidance, not to chastise "sinners". If the allegations against him are true, then he severely overstepped his bounds. His primary job is that of a counselor, not a judge.

 

No one is asking him to condone fornication or homosexuality, and if those things make him uncomfortable then he should have resigned his position. FWIW, I hope the Navy decides to let him carry out the remainder of his service so he can get his full retirement benefits, but he needs to take his service outside of the chaplaincy.

Edited by Godless

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I don't understand how mainline Christian churches operate, so that might color some of my take here, but . . .

 

I sort of agree with Godless on this.  On the one hand--I think the military should make sure that believing service members have access to ordained clergy of their own faith where practicable.  On the other hand--I'm not sure that interdenominational military chaplains necessarily fill that need.

 

And, let's be blunt:  From a pragmatic standpoint, the value to the military in having a chaplain is to make sure that a serviceman continues to be willing to do what the military orders him to do even in the face of certain death.  A chaplain who warns servicemen that no, they aren't really ready to meet God at all; is at cross purposes with our secularized military.  I don't want the guy (or any other person of faith) muzzled; but I can see why the military wouldn't want to bend over backwards to accommodate his ministry either.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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From the Navy's website:

"As a Navy Chaplain, your job spans a broad range of duties, seeing people through some of their most joyful moments to their most personally challenging. And it could include any of these responsibilities:

  • Conduct worship services in a variety of settings
  • Perform religious rites and ceremonies such as weddings, funeral services and baptisms
  • Counsel individuals who seek guidance
  • Oversee religious education programs, such as Sunday school and youth groups
  • Visit and provide spiritual guidance and care to hospitalized personnel and/or their family members
  • Train lay leaders who conduct religious education programs
  • Promote attendance at religious services, retreats and conferences
  • Advise leaders at all levels regarding morale, ethics and spiritual well-being"

I know I'm taking the unpopular position here, but I believe this man has no place in a military chaplaincy. It is the job of a chaplain to provide spiritual support and guidance, not to chastise "sinners". If the allegations against him are true, then he severely overstepped his bounds. His primary job is that of a counselor, not a judge.

 

No one is asking him to condone fornication or homosexuality, and if those things make him uncomfortable then he should have resigned his position. FWIW, I hope the Navy decides to let him carry out the remainder of his service so he can get his full retirement benefits, but he needs to take his service outside of the chaplaincy.

 

The three points above all emphasize the role of advisor and counselor, which implies the possibility of criticism. From what this article has said, it appears this man has done literally nothing wrong.

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I do not trust the article for many reasons.  I am not sure how I stand on this particular situation.  In general I do not believe it is the duty of any clergyman to chastise someone seeking guidance for their sins.  I believe it is the mission of those that are called of G-d to guide and assist with repentance.  From the article it appears that the chaplain was trying to convince them to repent rather than to assist them with repentance.  I believe there is a very big difference.

 

There are other considerations.  If an LDS chaplain was true to his faith and beliefs he would have to tell devout Evangelicals, Catholics and Protestants that their baptisms were not recognized by G-d.  It is not about the religious convictions of the military chaplain but the religious convictions of those who he serves.  If an LDS chaplain will not perform the last rights for a Catholic because of his priesthood covenants - he should not be a chaplain in the military.

 

I think the military has every right to investigate what was going on and I believe that the chaplain has every right to defend himself.  If there is not a good match in what the chaplain is willing to give in service and what the military expects of chaplains then the two should dissolve the partner relationship without animosity one against the other.  If there is a good match and the investigation demonstrates this to be so - I assume the relationship will not only continue but be strengthened. 

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I tread very careful waters here.  As a chaplain, I know that we have to be respectful of other religions, perspectives, and mores.  We do not have to agree, but we should tolerate and respect that others beg to differ.  Military chaplaincy is different from corrections, so I am hesitant to claim too much expertise.  We may well be looking at apples vs. oranges.  Nevertheless, the reality of this chaplain having served in very intense environments, and having received mostly commendations and kudos, and now, in the final stretch, to be facing this seems odd.  He obviously knew what he had to do--the balance he had to maintain, to have made it 19 years.  Most chaplains do not serve that long.  So, were the rules changed on him?  Did new leadership bring new expectations to him?

 

Like I said in the OP...I'm praying for him and his family. 

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Whether he was in the wrong or wrong, I hate to see him lose his retirement benefits because he is a few short months away from being eligible.  Right or wrong he did serve 19 years in the military.

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I tread very careful waters here.  As a chaplain, I know that we have to be respectful of other religions, perspectives, and mores.  We do not have to agree, but we should tolerate and respect that others beg to differ.  Military chaplaincy is different from corrections, so I am hesitant to claim too much expertise.  We may well be looking at apples vs. oranges.  Nevertheless, the reality of this chaplain having served in very intense environments, and having received mostly commendations and kudos, and now, in the final stretch, to be facing this seems odd.  He obviously knew what he had to do--the balance he had to maintain, to have made it 19 years.  Most chaplains do not serve that long.  So, were the rules changed on him?  Did new leadership bring new expectations to him?

 

Like I said in the OP...I'm praying for him and his family. 

 

I hope you will not mind a question for the likes of me.  Often I see phrases such as yours - "I'm praying for him and his family".  I am not sure I understand what you mean.  It is not that I do not include others in my prayers but that I seldom make such things public concerning specific individuals.  Also my prayers are seldom intended to change what is happening but rather that truths not be hidden and that the entirety of truth be clearly manifested to all involved - especially to those that seek truth and honest resolution.  Thus if I had inclinations, as in this case with the chaplain, my personal focus would be a greater effort in prayer  for those that misunderstand G-d's will and purpose in what is unfolding.

 

Sometime I think to pray that someone be comforted and relieved - but then I realize that Jesus taught that those that morn will be comforted.  So I realize that I should not pray to have that which would cause them to morn be changed because that is what in truth will cause them divine comfort.  And that if I pray for their comfort that in essence I am praying that they would have more cause to morn.  I am not sure I should pray for such things for others.

 

Sorry for being personal - but in essence I am asking for very personal insights to your prayer and what expectations you have from such prayers concerning others especially those you may not know very well?  Also do you consider fasting with such prayers for others?

Edited by Traveler

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I hope you will not mind a question for the likes of me.  Often I see phrases such as yours - "I'm praying for him and his family".  I am not sure I understand what you mean.  It is not that I do not include others in my prayers but that I seldom make such things public concerning specific individuals.  Also my prayers are seldom intended to change what is happening but rather that truths not be hidden and that the entirety of truth be clearly manifested to all involved - especially to those that seek truth and honest resolution.  Thus if I had inclinations, as in this case with the chaplain, my personal focus would be a greater effort in prayer  for those that misunderstand G-d's will and purpose in what is unfolding.

 

Sometime I think to pray that someone be comforted and relieved - but then I realize that Jesus taught that those that morn will be comforted.  So I realize that I should not pray to have that which would cause them to morn be changed because that is what in truth will cause them divine comfort.  And that if I pray for their comfort that in essence I am praying that they would have more cause to morn.  I am not sure I should pray for such things for others.

 

Sorry for being personal - but in essence I am asking for very personal insights to your prayer and what expectations you have from such prayers concerning others especially those you may not know very well?  Also do you consider fasting with such prayers for others?

I'm not PC, but I think you're over-thinking this Traveler. In all cases, prayers offered for others are simply prayers that God's will be done - whatever that may mean for that person/family you're praying for... whatever it is they need, whether wisdom, strength, comfort, peace, a million dollars, etc... that can bring them closer to God. Because, especially in this case where the person is not someone we know well, we don't really know what it is that they need that would bring that about.

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I'm not PC, but I think you're over-thinking this Traveler. In all cases, prayers offered for others are simply prayers that God's will be done - whatever that may mean for that person/family you're praying for... whatever it is they need, whether wisdom, strength, comfort, peace, a million dollars, etc... that can bring them closer to God. Because, especially in this case where the person is not someone we know well, we don't really know what it is that they need that would bring that about.

 

Hmmmmmmmm - I am glad you have the easy simple answers.  Do you believe G-d's will trumps individual agency?  Do you pray that it will?  Do you or would you ever consider praying to understand what you should really pray for?

 

Maybe I over think prayer in this circumstance - I tried to have a thread about prayer and almost no one would add any insights - So for me - it would seem that I must ask more questions in other settings.  But I have never encountered anything in scripture or anywhere else of revelation that someone is over thinking prayer or what results from our very well highly thought out prayers.

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Sorry for being personal - but in essence I am asking for very personal insights to your prayer and what expectations you have from such prayers concerning others especially those you may not know very well?  Also do you consider fasting with such prayers for others?

 

In this case, certainly that the chaplain and his family will experience God's presence, strength, wisdom, direction, support, etc.  I do not know Chaplain Modder, nor what happened behind closed doors.  If vindication is merited, I would ask God to bring that about.  If mistakes, pride, or stubbornness was part of the series events, that God work his will and his way.  Perhaps, more than anything, that God would sustain the family, and help them in their clinging to him during a time that has to be hard.

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Just adding a thought - Is it possible that G-d would allow this military chaplain and his family to suffer greatly - even loose their retirement benefits in order to touch one of those that has testified against him - that what we see as very painful and suffering may be for a greater cause?  I believe we should inform our G-d of our understanding and desires - is not the real purpose of our prayer to better understand - and through better understanding change ourselves?

 

I honestly struggle with prayers for others that involve a change.  For example I have a very good friend that is dying from cancer.  She has painfully suffered for a very long time but her extended time has meant much for her family.  I pray daily for her and her family but in all honesty I tell my G-d that I do not know what is the best course.  Mostly I pray to know what to say and do when I visit her or her family.  I smile and tell a lot of jokes and funny stories about me and my family but the reality is that I leave broken and sad - very conflicted.  I would learn how others deal with things that I do not understand or find resolution.

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In this case, certainly that the chaplain and his family will experience God's presence, strength, wisdom, direction, support, etc.  I do not know Chaplain Modder, nor what happened behind closed doors.  If vindication is merited, I would ask God to bring that about.  If mistakes, pride, or stubbornness was part of the series events, that God work his will and his way.  Perhaps, more than anything, that God would sustain the family, and help them in their clinging to him during a time that has to be hard.

 

What about those that brought about this situation?  Are they not in greater need than the chaplain and his family?  Should we pray for those that do evil?  Or who to pray for the most - those doing evil or those doing good?

Edited by Traveler

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One other very big question to me - what are expectations in prayer.  Do you believe you change anything because of your prayers?  If so - what do you expect to change.  If not - what is the reason of your prayers?

Edited by Traveler

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Traveler, you ask many good questions.  I pray for the chaplain because I have been asked to.  Also, as a chaplain, I can somewhat empathize with his situation.  Do the counselees that were so offended need God's help?  Absolutely.  It is appropriate to pray for them, as well.  I'm not sure it's important to determine who needs prayer more.  All parties need it!  Finally, prayer does change things.  As we pray, we may change.  We may petition God to the point that He sees we are ready for a different answer than we were facing.  Additionally, as we seek for giftings (spiritual empowerment, for example), it may be that God "holds out" until He sees that our desire--our fervency--matches the equipping we seek.  Why give power to one who will not use it, out of fear, or even immaturity?  Another thought--sometimes it's appropriate to ask God how we should pray.  He may give us discernment, for example, as to whether we should pray for healing, or for strength to endure.  On a personal note, when I don't know how I should pray--just that I should do so, I can 'pray in the Spirit--with groanings that cannot be uttered.'

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Back to the topic of the chaplain threatened with separation, here is an article that is very much siding with the chaplain.  There is a youtube video at the end featuring him.

 

http://christiannews.net/2015/03/11/navy-chaplain-threatened-with-discharge-as-counsel-against-fornication-called-recipe-for-disaster/

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Intolerance is being used to silence those who believe fornication, homosexuality and other sins are a wrong lifestyle.  In my opinion many people believe they have a right to not be offended.

 

Praise the LORD for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that shows us the way of light and what the marvelous Plan of Happiness is.

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There is a wealth of information about Chaplain Wes Modder and his case at this link: 

 

https://www.libertyinstitute.org/modderfacts

 

The link is from Liberty Institute, a legal firm specializing in religious liberty cases.  They are representing Chaplain Modder.

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