The Baptist Press interview with Army Chaplain Jim Breckenridge provides a keen insight into why Pagan efforts to have their own chaplains appointed is so important.
“Breckenridge recalled talking recently with a soldier who claimed to be a Wiccan. Although Wiccan beliefs are contrary to the principles of the Christian faith, Breckenridge said she at least was willing to talk about spiritual matters. “When God-fearing is present in any form,” Breckenridge said, “then there is the opportunity and the challenge to introduce Jesus Christ into the conversation.” Certainly, Chaplain Breckenridge is doing just that.”
Despite the military party-line that their chaplains are trained to serve soldiers of all faiths, the truth is that non-Christian soldiers are often openly discriminated against, secure that military bureaucracy (and a solidly Christian hierarchy) will protect them from censure.
“Master Sgt. Kathleen Johnson, 40, a career soldier from north Florida who enlisted in 1985, said many soldiers do worry about invisible things and pressure others to do the same … Johnson said she has been threatened with failing a mandatory course if she didn’t bow her head during prayer. One military chaplain bragged to her about how he had stalled some Wiccan soldiers when they asked for a place to gather until they finally just gave up.”
How can a Pagan soldier trust in their chaplain, when he or she knows there is a very good chance they simply see it as an opportunity to “introduce Jesus Christ into the conversation”? A situation that has grown only worse as Evangelical Christians slowly take over the chaplaincy.
“The percentage of Evangelical Christian chaplains is higher than their faith’s representation in the ranks. The military directs them not to proselytize. But many say that would force them to deny a basic tenet of their faith.”
The message to Pagans in the military is clear, don’t trust the chaplains. They aren’t interested in your problems, or helping you through tough times, they simply want to win you to Christ.
ADDENDUM: As if by fate, shortly after posting this item, I got an e-mail from the Rev. Paula Johnson, Coordinator of Operation Circle Care, a Circle Sanctuary-sponsored charity that sends care packages to Pagan troops in war zones. They are gearing up for the Yule season, so if you want to send a little holiday cheer into a Pagan soldier’s life, check out Patti Wigington’s blog for a run-down of what they are looking for, where to send it, and what the deadlines are.