I am honored to do this!
Great response. I know how hard it is to openly speak out about something like this when you are in the military. Religion was pushed very hard when I was in and it is amazing the kind of things officers will do in the name of their personal religous beliefs.
to clarify something. Although they are commisioned officers, Chaplains don't actually have command authority over anyone, even other chaplains except for MG Carver's aides and staff. More to the point, UCMJ authority is command authority. They are commissioned officers partly so that their role as advisor to a commander is within normal military protocol for critical staff personnel. Any chaplain who acts otherwise is wrong. Most chaplains act through a commander who is of like mind rather than put themselves out there. Especially with how blunt MG Carver has been lately about chaplains openly proselytizing after the bible incident in Afghanistan and the repeal of DADT.
I don't agree with chaplains on the payroll in the first place or tax dollars spen on chapels but they are not officers with command authority,they are officers with a special trust endowed by the President, or so it goes. Thus, they are commissioned to fulfill a "sacred duty" without the conflicts of being enlisted or a civilain.
Indeed Dennis, thanks for clarifying the command authority issue. Chaplains don't make any decisions regarding command or the mission - except say a token prayer from time to time, during which I never bow my head, look around and find the other atheists (who are generally closeted as "No Religious Preference").
The DADT repeal brings up an interesting point regarding chaplains in the military - they will still be able to preach what is in accordance with their religion from the pulpit on Sunday morning, but then are supposed to offer counseling and support to all Soldiers during the week. Can you smell a conflict of interest coming? Inevitably, a chaplain will make anti-homosexual remarks in a sermon, in a unit with openly homosexual personnel. I'm hoping this leads to further reforms regarding religion in the military (read: NO RELIGION).
I always like to remind my family that prayer means nothing. You can not shower for a week and pray to be clean and I guarentee you will still be smelly after that prayer, but when you take action... like shower, you become clean. People that pray for troops should try and become troops. If they support us so much with our dying in iraq and such and such (yay end of iraq... the one good thing bush did was sign that law into motion in 07) why not take action and become one?