The article picks up a theme from the recent report of a task force that discovered "religious insensitivity" at the Air Force Academy. That report seemed to suggest that the problem arose because of the increase in the number of evangelicals in the chaplain corp.
Does blaming the increase in the number of evangelical chaplains address the issue of "insensitive" chaplains or does it merely explain it away? In the past, thousands of "born again" Baptists have served as chaplains in the military without creating such problems. Insensitivity is not a trait peculiar to evangelicals. In fact, the article cites an instance where a liturgical chaplain rudely and insensitively took over an evangelical chaplain's worship service.
I suggest that the problem has less to do with the growth in the number of evangelicals than it has to do with growth of intolerance within the chaplain corp. The article addressed this most clearly when it discussed the case of Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, of the Evangelical Episcopal Church, whose chaplain contract was not renewed due to his aggressive proselytizing.
"The Navy wants to impose its religion on me," he said. "Religious pluralism is a religion. It's a theology all by itself."What's changed most is the increasing proportion of chaplains, officers and soldiers who are no longer willing to tolerate religious pluralism within the military. Reports from the Air Force Academy indicate that some of the "insensitive" officers at the school recently attended seminars teaching such intolerance on duty hours.
The military is right to decide that the kind of intolerance that Kilingenschmitt expresses is intolerable. When acting in an official capacity, chaplains must be required to be tolerant of and sensitive to the religious convictions of all the soldiers that serve of our country.
It shouldn't be that hard to find chaplains who are tolerant. All they have to do is find people who believe in and practice the golden rule -- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In some form, that principle is common to most faiths.