Navy

Navy Chaplains to Receive More Training on Sexual Abuse

Photo by Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Kristen Leslie, (left), a professor at Eden Theological Seminary. Photo by Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — Kristen Leslie began her 2003 book, When Violence Is No Stranger, with a verse from Psalms, a nod to her training as a theologian.

“It is not enemies who taunt me — I could bear that; it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me — I could hide from them. But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend…”

The book’s subject was acquaintance rape, and it got the attention of a chaplain at the Air Force Academy. The school was then reeling from a Pentagon report indicating that 7 percent of its cadets reported being the victims of rape or attempted rape. Nearly 90 percent of the perpetrators were their own classmates.

Leslie, now a professor of pastoral theology and care at Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Mo., was invited to Colorado to consult with academy leaders on how to train Air Force chaplains to deal with sexualized violence on campus.

Now, a decade later, the U.S. Navy has come knocking.

Catholic Chaplains Given Marching Orders Barring Service to Gay Couples

Air Force Capt. Mike Carey, a chaplain at Scott Air Force Base in Ill. RNS photo by Robert Cohen/The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Catholic military chaplains cannot be forced to witness or bless a same-sex marriage, nor are they allowed to take part in any marriage counseling retreats that are open to gay couples under new rules issued by the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

The rules, sent to chaplains on Sept. 18 by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the AMS, also bar chaplains from taking part in a funeral for a Catholic if that participation “would give the impression that the church approves of same sex ‘marital’ relationships.”

But the new rules also set out conditions that would allow Catholic military commanders to comply, without violating their beliefs, with rules giving same-sex couples under their command federal employee benefits as required by law.

Humanists Want a Military Chaplain to Call their Own

Photo courtesy RNS.
Jason Heap, who is applying to be the first Humanist chaplain in the military. Photo courtesy RNS.

If Jason Heap has his way, he’ll trade his Oxford tweeds for the crisp whites of a newly minted U.S. Navy chaplain.

“This is my chance to give back to my country,” said Heap, 38. “I want to use my skills on behalf of our people in the service. Hopefully, the Navy will see where I can be useful.”

But Heap’s goal is not assured. He fits the requirements — with master’s degrees from both Brite Divinity School and Oxford University. His paperwork is complete. He passed the physical tests and has been interviewed by a Navy chaplain. The only thing he does not have is an endorsement from a religious organization approved by the Navy.

Why We Need to Cut Wasteful Defense Spending in the United States

It's funny the things that you remember. I can remember one time when I was a teenager watching an episode of the Montel Williams show. I don't remember the topic, but I do remember Montel criticizing the U.S. government for spending too much money on military defense and not enough on domestic needs. I remember thinking to myself, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." In the world that I knew, the idea of slashing military spending was absolutely, totally, utterly UNTHINKABLE! I personally had never met anyone who thought that way, so I assumed that anyone who would suggest such a thing had to be either a) naive; b) stupid; c) a tree-hugger; or d) unAmerican.
That was then.

I don't know if it's because I changed or because America has changed (or both), but for years it seemed like the only ones who suggested slashing military spending were groups that few Americans could identify with: like hippies, pacifists, environmental and civil rights activists, and conspiracy theorists. Today, the idea that a significant portion of the nation's economic woes is due to wasteful Pentagon spending can be found both on the left and on the right ends of the political spectrum. It can also be found in the Pentagon.

Meet "Mr. Y."

How About Your Backyard?

After years of sustained international protests against live-fire training exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, the U.S. Navy is looking elsewhere to play its war games. President Bush has said he would order the Navy out of Vieques in 2003, avoiding the embarrassment of a referendum scheduled for January 2002 that would have let residents choose between saying "adios" to the Navy or getting $50 million in public works projects, along with continued live bombing.

Among the alternate sites being considered are Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where analysts speculate that the Navy will reconsider the battle-scale exercises performed on Vieques in favor of smaller simulations using quieter "smurf" bombs. Local residents, including many former Marines, oppose any plans to bomb in their backyard because of the threat of stray shells and the impact bombing likely would have on tourism.

Discontent is spreading to other testing sites. The Navy nixed exercises in Texas after the Sierra Club threatened protests. Maryland and Virginia residents near a Potomac River testing range are raising an outcry about damage to homes from blast vibrations and the ecological and safety hazards posed by unexploded shells—which are showing up in fishing nets.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 2002
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Fun With Facts

The Navy's Blue Angels have used 5.5 trillion gallons of kerosene-based jet fuel for training alone. New Yorkers used 2.2 billion gallons of kerosene in 1997 to stay warm.

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 2001
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