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Old 2nd August 2018, 05:53 PM   #1
arthwollipot
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Atheist chaplains?

Military chaplains could be atheists if discrimination complaint upheld

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The requirement for military chaplains to belong to a recognised religious denomination is discriminatory, according to a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission brought by a humanist chaplain.

The commission has accepted a complaint from Justin Murray, a volunteer chaplain at Canberra hospital, meaning it will now investigate and conciliate the case which could open the way for atheists and agnostics to hold posts as military chaplains.

Australian army chaplains are required to be “from an endorsed denomination or faith group” represented in army personnel. The only categories currently recognised by the army are Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, the Uniting church, various other christian groups and the Council of Australian Jewry.

Murray – who is not religious – has lodged a complaint with the AHRC on the basis he is not eligible to apply and has therefore been discriminated against on the grounds of his religious belief.

On 17 July the AHRC wrote to Murray confirming it has accepted his complaint and promising to deal with it “as soon as possible” using its powers to assess, investigate and conciliate disputes.

Murray’s complaint argued that 53% of Australian Defence Force personnel are not religious, meaning there was “no provision” of pastoral services for “the majority of ADF personnel”.
I confess to be a little confused as to why atheist personnel require chaplains (rather than counsellors) in the first place. But it's good that the discriminatory aspect of the role is being looked at.
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Old 2nd August 2018, 06:18 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Military chaplains could be atheists if discrimination complaint upheld



I confess to be a little confused as to why atheist personnel require chaplains (rather than counsellors) in the first place. But it's good that the discriminatory aspect of the role is being looked at.
It's possible that in the Australian military, as in the US, that a Chaplain has access to resources, and requirements for privacy that other forms of counselor do not. You may have soldiers who are not comfortable talking to a representative of a religion, but could still benefit from conversation with a confidential counselor and advocate.

I was a bit surprised a how short the list of accredited god-botherers is. Don't you have a significant number of soldiers of other faiths or traditions?
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Old 2nd August 2018, 06:35 PM   #3
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Interesting but given that chaplain by definition is a member of clergy and an atheist is just not that, it will need some other title for such a role methinks.
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Old 2nd August 2018, 07:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Pope130 View Post
It's possible that in the Australian military, as in the US, that a Chaplain has access to resources, and requirements for privacy that other forms of counselor do not. You may have soldiers who are not comfortable talking to a representative of a religion, but could still benefit from conversation with a confidential counselor and advocate.

I was a bit surprised a how short the list of accredited god-botherers is. Don't you have a significant number of soldiers of other faiths or traditions?
I'm sure we probably do, and this complaint, if upheld, will undoubtedly allow for chaplains of those faiths as well.
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Old 2nd August 2018, 07:13 PM   #5
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"The Council of Australian Jewry" sounds like the super-villains in a redneck comic-book.
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Old 2nd August 2018, 07:44 PM   #6
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Little bit.
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Old 2nd August 2018, 10:16 PM   #7
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Justin Murray, the man behind the complaint, has appeared on the Stop the National School Chaplaincy Program Facebook page, and indicated that the article may have misquoted him at one point.

Quote:
My exact words were: "I feel that religious requirements may prevent other chaplains ministering to people of different faiths, depending on how ecumenical they may be."
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Old 3rd August 2018, 02:22 AM   #8
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Well, there are reportedly plenty of atheist priests in various Christian denominations, so why not?
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Old 3rd August 2018, 02:24 AM   #9
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TBH, I never understood why priests have to believe. Doesn't seem to be a requirement in any other job. I mean, I'm a programmer, and nobody asks if I believe that Turing was our messiah and died for our programming sins
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Old 3rd August 2018, 02:32 AM   #10
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I suppose at one time chaplains in military forces made some kind of sense but in societies like say Australia and the UK they really seem to be a rather expensive anachronism. Wouldn't it just be better to do away with the official post rather than fight it on anti-discrimination grounds?
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Old 3rd August 2018, 03:12 AM   #11
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I know the OP is about military chaplains, but many would not realise that Australia spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer money on chaplains in non-religious government schools started, shamefully by the Gillard Labor government.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nati...incy_Programme

As a consequence of court challenges, it was decided to allow secular “chaplains”. The result ?

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0.01% of the chaplains were secular
Even that was too much for the bible bashers in the Coalition.

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It was announced in May 2014 that the provision to allow secular welfare workers under NSCP would be removed, changing the definition of chaplain to someone ordained, commissioned or endorsed by a recognised religious institution. From December 2014, the 623 schools who were then hiring a secular welfare worker had to either hire a chaplain instead or go without either
Based on this experience, I can’t see athiest or even secular chaplains in the Australian military.
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Old 3rd August 2018, 04:04 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Interesting but given that chaplain by definition is a member of clergy and an atheist is just not that, it will need some other title for such a role methinks.
Shades of the "does same sex marriage fall within the definition of marriage?" argument.
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Old 3rd August 2018, 02:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Shades of the "does same sex marriage fall within the definition of marriage?" argument.

................ Nah I don't think so.
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Old 3rd August 2018, 02:09 PM   #14
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Every time I go into the hospital, they ask my faith for counseling purposes. I tell them not only do I not want religious counseling, but if anyone who looks vaguely religious enters my room, I will jump out the window.
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Old 3rd August 2018, 02:15 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Every time I go into the hospital, they ask my faith for counseling purposes. I tell them not only do I not want religious counseling, but if anyone who looks vaguely religious enters my room, I will jump out the window.
That will get you a psychiatric hold.

I said "Catholic" the first time I went to hospital, just for my mom. Never did that again.
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Old 3rd August 2018, 02:27 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I confess to be a little confused as to why atheist personnel require chaplains (rather than counsellors) in the first place. But it's good that the discriminatory aspect of the role is being looked at.
A lot of religion is centered around marking and celebrating life events and doesn't necessarily require God.
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Old 3rd August 2018, 03:45 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
A lot of religion is centered around marking and celebrating life events and doesn't necessarily require God.

Judaism, in my experience, is far more about family and community than it is about one's personal relationship with God. We're not big believers in divine intervention for everyday things. It's probably the easiest religion to be an atheist in. So long as you show up for the dinners, nobody really cares.*


*Certainly, the more orthodox sects would disagree. But even then, it's more about doing what the rest of the community is doing.
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Old 3rd August 2018, 06:51 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Judaism, in my experience, is far more about family and community than it is about one's personal relationship with God. We're not big believers in divine intervention for everyday things. It's probably the easiest religion to be an atheist in. So long as you show up for the dinners, nobody really cares.*


*Certainly, the more orthodox sects would disagree. But even then, it's more about doing what the rest of the community is doing.
Well its probably a good thing to not constantly expect devine intervention when your deity has a history of acting like a bipolar, jealous god.
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Old 3rd August 2018, 07:16 PM   #19
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Harvard University has included a Humaist Chaplain in its group of a few dozen chaplains for quite a long time now. Some here may be familiar with Greg Epstein from his best seller Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe
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Old 3rd August 2018, 07:30 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Hungry81 View Post
Well its probably a good thing to not constantly expect devine intervention when your deity has a history of acting like a bipolar, jealous god.

I would say that the god of the Torah is not the god of modern conservative Judaism. It's kind of like watching the original Star Trek: flat-out crazy compared to today's standards, but still classic.

By the time of the prophets after the destruction of the Great Temple, the concept of God had matured a bit in the Jewish mind.

The best expplanation of the Jewish God that I've ever seen came from Gene Wilder in The Frisco Kid:


Quote:
He doesn't make rain. He gives us strength when we're suffering. He gives us compassion when all that we feel is hatred. He gives us courage when we're searching around blindly like little mice in the darkness... but He does not make rain!

[Thunder and lightning begin, followed by a downpour]

Of course... sometimes, just like that, he'll change his mind.
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Old 4th August 2018, 07:14 AM   #21
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Last year, the DoD started recognizing Humanism as a religious preference. Assuming enough identify, that could lead the way to US military Humanist chaplains.
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Old 4th August 2018, 07:16 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
A lot of religion is centered around marking and celebrating life events and doesn't necessarily require God.
And how is that relevant to the chaplain role in the military forces?
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Old 4th August 2018, 10:08 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Judaism, in my experience, is far more about family and community than it is about one's personal relationship with God. We're not big believers in divine intervention for everyday things. It's probably the easiest religion to be an atheist in. So long as you show up for the dinners, nobody really cares.*
I know of a rabbi who says you can convert to Judaism culturally without converting religiously. Granted, his is not the majority opinion.

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
And how is that relevant to the chaplain role in the military forces?
Because it could help you understand the role an athiest chaplain could fill?
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Old 4th August 2018, 12:05 PM   #24
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Chaplains can also provide guidance and counseling for moral and ethical questions.
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Old 4th August 2018, 12:14 PM   #25
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They also perform a critical role when a service member dies.
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Old 5th August 2018, 03:12 AM   #26
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As a former professional soldier and then and now atheist, I could see the need for a chaplain even for atheists. The person just have to as pointed out above be able to counsel about the important questions in a non-religious way.

With regard
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Old 5th August 2018, 03:57 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
I know of a rabbi who says you can convert to Judaism culturally without converting religiously. Granted, his is not the majority opinion.



Because it could help you understand the role an athiest chaplain could fill?
You mean they deal with births, and marriages and burials?
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Old 5th August 2018, 04:15 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Tommy Jeppesen View Post
As a former professional soldier and then and now atheist, I could see the need for a chaplain even for atheists. The person just have to as pointed out above be able to counsel about the important questions in a non-religious way.

With regard
That would not be Chaplin then in the sense of the Australian military. Those chaplains are meant to minister (as in a Christian ministry) to the military forces they are part of. It is clearly defined as a religious role not a counseling role.

Approximately 50% of Australians define themselves as religious, about 30% as a member of a Christian religion. At best these positions cater for 30% of the military forces (that ignores of course the doctrinal issues between various Christian churches).

I can understand a need for a counseling role in a military force, wouldn't it be better to stop funding these Chaplains and move that funding into providing more and better counseling for the military forces? If the religious still want Christian ministry in the military forces they can provide that at zero cost to the small minority of military folk who wish that.

Let's not forget that a Christian ministry is about converting non Christians to become believers in Christianity. Is that kind of behaviour something the state and therefore the tax payers should be paying for out of a military budget?
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Old 5th August 2018, 04:21 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
...
Let's not forget that a Christian ministry is about converting non Christians to become believers in Christianity. Is that kind of behaviour something the state and therefore the tax payers should be paying for out of a military budget?
No.
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Old 5th August 2018, 08:08 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Let's not forget that a Christian ministry is about converting non Christians to become believers in Christianity. Is that kind of behaviour something the state and therefore the tax payers should be paying for out of a military budget?

As far as military chaplains go, that's just not true.

I would say that most christian sects are not proselytizers. The ones who are, though, are much more visible which might lead one to overestimate their numbers.
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Old 5th August 2018, 08:22 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
You mean they deal with births, and marriages and burials?
The way you phrase it sounds like you're limiting it to those activities. I can't think of anything a Christian Chaplain would do that an athiest Chaplain couldn't. Conduct services? Give a sermon? Why not?

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Let's not forget that a Christian ministry is about converting non Christians to become believers in Christianity. Is that kind of behaviour something the state and therefore the tax payers should be paying for out of a military budget?
But don't forget that being a chaplain isn't the same as having a ministry.

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Old 5th August 2018, 09:02 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Let's not forget that a Christian ministry is about converting non Christians to become believers in Christianity. Is that kind of behaviour something the state and therefore the tax payers should be paying for out of a military budget?
Ridiculous on every level

From Stars and Stripes:

"What it comes down to, officials said, is that discussing matters of faith and religious practice with a willing audience is allowed, but pushing religious beliefs on those who don’t want to hear it is a form of harassment forbidden under Defense Department policies."
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Old 5th August 2018, 09:52 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by The Big Dog View Post
Ridiculous on every level

From Stars and Stripes:

"What it comes down to, officials said, is that discussing matters of faith and religious practice with a willing audience is allowed, but pushing religious beliefs on those who don’t want to hear it is a form of harassment forbidden under Defense Department policies."
It is about Australia.
Now that Australia exists, is of course fake news, as everything is about the USA.
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Old 5th August 2018, 09:56 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Tommy Jeppesen View Post
It is about Australia.
Now that Australia exists, is of course fake news, as everything is about the USA.
Actually it was a claim about Christian ministries.
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Old 5th August 2018, 10:24 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by The Big Dog View Post
Actually it was a claim about Christian ministries.
In Australia.
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Old 5th August 2018, 11:00 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Let's not forget that a Christian ministry is about converting non Christians to become believers in Christianity. Is that kind of behaviour something the state and therefore the tax payers should be paying for out of a military budget?
In my experience this is not the case. I've had occasion to work with a number of Chaplains. I was a Senior NCO in a unit with a high deployment rate (average 270 to 300 days a year) and, on several deployments was acting First Sergeant. Chaplains work as the point of contact for family problems from back home. They did notifications, counseling and coordination with family services, Red Cross and aid agencies.

Religion was not normally a factor, save when it was felt best to have the right flavor of preacher for a particular function. In most cases I did not even know what denomination they were.
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Old 5th August 2018, 03:09 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
As far as military chaplains go, that's just not true.

I would say that most christian sects are not proselytizers. The ones who are, though, are much more visible which might lead one to overestimate their numbers.
It is true about the RC and the Anglican Church, doesn't mean they are in your face evangelicals but they are there (as a part of a ministry) to save souls which means helping people become Christians.
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Old 5th August 2018, 03:11 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
The way you phrase it sounds like you're limiting it to those activities. I can't think of anything a Christian Chaplain would do that an athiest Chaplain couldn't. Conduct services? Give a sermon? Why not?



But don't forget that being a chaplain isn't the same as having a ministry.
In reference to this particular role in the Australian forces it is a ministry. It may be different for other countries.
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Old 5th August 2018, 03:12 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by The Big Dog View Post
Ridiculous on every level

From Stars and Stripes:

"What it comes down to, officials said, is that discussing matters of faith and religious practice with a willing audience is allowed, but pushing religious beliefs on those who don’t want to hear it is a form of harassment forbidden under Defense Department policies."
What has the Stars and Stripes got to do with the Chaplin role in the Australian military?
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Old 5th August 2018, 03:14 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Pope130 View Post
In my experience this is not the case. I've had occasion to work with a number of Chaplains. I was a Senior NCO in a unit with a high deployment rate (average 270 to 300 days a year) and, on several deployments was acting First Sergeant. Chaplains work as the point of contact for family problems from back home. They did notifications, counseling and coordination with family services, Red Cross and aid agencies.

Religion was not normally a factor, save when it was felt best to have the right flavor of preacher for a particular function. In most cases I did not even know what denomination they were.
I am sure they are not "in your face evangelicals" but it is mean to be ministry role therefore for the RC and Anglican it is meant to be about bringing people to God and saving their souls.
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