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Military Chaplains, Who Needs Them?

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During a recent VFP event I had the pleasure of listening to Jim Radford give a short presentation regarding aspects of his service career. During that talk he mentioned the disdain he felt for military chaplains. Up until that moment I thought I was alone in my revulsion of these pernicious pseudo soldiers. However, don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to belittle anyones faith, beliefs or religious inclinations, but only to challenge this department of the military who preach peace whilst at the same time giving moral justification for a young soldier to stick a bayonette in a strangers chest.

unnamedBritish Military Chaplains wear the uniforms of the associated service and accompany their troops whever they are deployed. They are non-combatants and do not bear arms. This not bearing arms is a gross hypocrisy in itself, in other words, go and do your duty son but don’t expect me to do it after all I’m above all that.is moral dissonance reached it’s pinnacle of absurdity during WW1, where local priests would receive a stipend for recruiting eligible parishioners to go and do Gods work on the battlefields of the Western Front. As Siegfried Sasoon said “It may have been the soldier who shot the rifle, but it was the Padre who gave him the ammunition.” There are few and scant records of any priests urging young men not to go. However, nothing new here, isn’t it the Vicar who bangs the military gong on Remembrance Sunday, as he recites before the great and the good, the words “We are gathered here before God”. Wasn’t it the Vicar who read out the last rights before the firing squad shot one their own for refusing to fight and wasn’t it the same vicar who buried the young man and mentioned not a word to his relatives of how he met his demise.

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Religious moral conditioning has been used for centuries by the instigators of violent conflict, Adolph Hitlers appeal to divine authority is well recorded in Mein Kampf, in addition every German soldier had the words ‘Gott Mit Uns’ embossed on his stable belt and various renditions of this slogan have appeared on many imperial military emblems, Nobiscum deus in Latin, Μεθ ημων ο Θεος (Meth imon o Theos) in Greek, С Hами Бог (S Nami Bog) in Church Slavonic, or ‘God is with us in English,’ was a battle cry of the Roman and of the Byzantine Empires. Christian gospels were not the only religious conditioning tool. Buddhist texts were read to Kamikaze pilots pre mission and a connection between religion and battle was made through the way in which Zen Buddhism wedded Buddhist purposes to both the Taoist practice of an art or a craft and, in an historical tradition dominated by a military class, the Japanese “martial arts.” The chant of Allahu Akbar or Insha’Allah can be heard from those fighting for the Muslim cause. Could this be why the British Military now employ Buddhist and Muslim chaplains?

So, to me these particularly odious individuals who claim to be men of peace, do in fact support and prop up the whole show, by conditioning young minds to believe it’s right and just to kill and in addition to act as recruiting Sergeants for the naive and vulnerable. I well remember taking my signing up papers to my local Sunday school vicar (a former Naval Chaplain) as a so called professional person, he never hesitated or offered any words of resistance only encouragement. In addition sailing South in 1982 the chaplains rousing call to arms in the ships makeshift church or entertainment centre still echoes through my mind come the anniversary time of a departed friend, killed in action during the Falklands War. I guess the cap badge motto of the British Chaplains “In this sign Conquer” sums up the madness of it all.

Today the British Military employs Chaplains of all faiths from Jews to Hindu’s and Sikhs. So it would appear that no young person from which ever ethnic group be they male or female is immune from the duplicitous, insidious and subversive nature of religious moral conditioning within the military. We can however take heart from those non belligerent believers who refused to join in with the madness, such as Quakers, Amish and Christadelphians. For if you truly believe in peace, how can you ever condone violence.

Gus Hales served in the British Army, he is a member of VFP UK.

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  • Ben Griffin 19/11/2015, 16:50

    This is a subject that I have an interest in too.

    When I refused to go back to Iraq in 2005 I was interviewed by 5 different officers.

    The Adjudant was old school Para and couldn’t believe that a fellow Para was refusing to go on operations.

    However the Padre was the only officer who attacked me. He said that he had been to the Falklands and that there were others like me on the boat down who were scared! I tried to tell him that I was refusing to go on operations in Iraq not because of a fear for my own life but because of what we were doing to others. He didn’t get it.

    Since leaving I have been in heated discussions with Padre’s about their role in the military, they just don’t want to face up to the massive contradiction.

    • Garry Harriman 19/11/2015, 18:55

      It sounds like they were not as self aware or as comfortable with who they were as people as you clearly were and are now, Ben.

      Religious people scare me and there are a lot of them down here in the Bible Belt of the Southern United States. They are all just as flawed and imperfect as the rest of us but they are just fortunate enough to live in a comfortable mass delusion that fits their own self concept.

      I got into a heated exchange with my father in law some time ago, a retired Army Major and Vietnam vet`, a man who I love and respect greatly. However, this story made me realise how vile religion is in its hypocrisy and judgmental attitude to others. He is also a minister, and he told me about conversion therapy classes he was running to `cure` homosexuals of their `immoral behaviour and sickness`.

      That, for me, underpins how vile, irrelevant, judging, outdated and just plain deluded religion, of nay kind is, and how humanity will be better off, far better off without it…..and war!

      Cheers

      Garry

    • Garry Harriman 19/11/2015, 21:52

      Ben
      Do Army padres attached to the Parachute Regiment and SF have to complete the selection to join them, and what would they know of being scarfed? I bet you are scared, even a SAS solider, there would be something wrong with you if you were not scared, it`s natural and even with that level of training, there is no way to gauge how you would respond to effective enemy fire.

      Did you try and ascertain what their view point was as to what you were doing there and how it affected you as a person? As you say re not wanting to face up to their contradictions, it1`s the same kind of issues when you engage people of faith on issues such as evidence, real, definitive, substantial evidence for their beliefs, the warped logic for those beliefs, and the state of the world and why someone who went to all that trouble to create the world would and us would then say, `oh well, free will` get on with it!` As I have learned here on the US, faith is the ultimate trump card!

      God bless you

      • Gus Hales 24/11/2015, 10:34

        Hi Garry

        From my time with Airborne Forces, we had a chaplain who was Para trained. But it is not an absolute requirement regarding attachments. The Padre who was with us during the Falklands campaign became a celebrity afterwards, but he was an establishment man, he left the forces and became the school chaplain at Eton College

        It is pointless trying to ascertain chaplains view point, my experience with military chaplains is like all other vicars/priests/pastors is that they just keep referring you back to the bible and as you know you can interpret that peace of literature anyway you want

        • Garry Harriman 26/11/2015, 14:01

          There are a lot of `D I Y` pastors over here in Ga….ordinary blokes who study `theology` (about as useful as a tits on fish) and then right the wrongs of others and people! I was at work just last night when a visitor to the hospital, a black man about my age, took my hand and said `Can I pray for you, Garry?, I`m a pastor`.

          I just shook his hand, smiled, and politely informed him that I did not believe in a supernatural beings. Needless to say, and as expected, the smile vanished from his face very quickly and was replaced by a look if instant distain and hatred and he carried on about his business.

          Lastly, how a black person in the USA can believe in a merciful god, a white man`s merciful god at that, based on what happened to their race is a double insult to them personally and collectively!

          God be with you, Gus, pray for me!

          Garry

        • Chris Volesky 07/01/2017, 05:18

          I realize this is a stray of sorts….but google/search Chaplain Hal Barker and Tamms Prison lawsuit. He was charged with all kinds of stuff including trying to incite violence and put the guards in danger! Plus his false allegations. And he did that to ALL his wives. He’s crazy and is an actual “Chaplain” at Fort Campbell 101st right now!!!!! going through a 3rd divorce from ANOTHER wife he abused!!! Hes putting this poor beautiful woman through hell in and out of court and I’ve seen the crazy disgusting messages and threats he sent her. Sex abuse talking about shoving her face into a pillow while he “rams” her. I can’t say how but the records are not difficult to find. He only joined Chaplain Corps so he wouldn’t have to fight. He was in reserves as some other MOS. This guy needs to go!!! And he’s not the only one. Yeah, these guys…..I wouldn’t go to any of them but this Hal Barker is the worst Ive seen so far.

  • Kieran 19/11/2015, 17:19

    A truly fantastic article Gus. This is a very poignant piece of writing considering western nations are condemning and pointing the finger of blame at an entire religion just because they happen to share faith in the same version of religion as a handful of butchers.
    It is very easy to kill a man when you are convinced God is on your side. Shame on the men of the cloth that justify murder.

    • Gus Hales 19/11/2015, 21:28

      Great comment Kieran.

      Yes it does appear to be an apposite post considering current world events.

      It somewhat mystifies me that Muslims are the only group of people on the planet that we identify by their religion. It sometimes smacks of the language of the early troubles days you are either Catholic or Protestant, whereas we are all so much more than religious labels.

  • S. Brian Willson 19/11/2015, 17:37

    When I was in USAir Force training in a ranger-type unit at Fort Campbell army base in 1968-69 in preparation for Viet Nam, I surprisingly did not follow orders to perform the bayonet drill. I endured a 2 hour wild scolding in our commander’s barrack’s office. He ordered me to be counseled by our squadron chaplain.

    A Southern Baptist, he immediately lectured me about loyalty to the cause fighting evil – the Vietnamese “Communists” – as he showed me photos of what he said were dead Vietnamese, on the back of which each photo was stamped “Department of ‘Defense'”.

    He told me I had a responsibility to stop these atrocities from continuing. All I wanted to do was share my feelings of revulsion to plunging the bayonet into a dummy which were genuine. I was not a pacifist or even opposed to the war at the time. I simply needed to process this new scary feeling. He said I was disturbed.

    He ordered a consult with an Air Force psychiatrist. The psychiatrist and I shared a lengthy, and respectful conversation. He recommended a reassignment to another unit more in line with my disposition since this Air Force ranger-type unit was a bit unusual, needing highly motivated airmen, of which I was not one.

    I was not reassigned. After 12 weeks of training, I received a certificate of successful completion, never having performed the bayonet drill. I nonetheless complied with orders to deploy to Viet Nam in great inner conflict.

  • John Boulton 19/11/2015, 18:01

    Couldn’t believe it when I discovered that the British had endorsed Buddhist chaplains. I wonder where they stand on the first of the five precepts… Not to kill or harm? What happened to ‘right livelihood’ too? Jokers. As for all the other lot, ah, no words… just keep cashing those cheques guys! Ca-Ching!?Type in to your nearest search engine… George Carlin religion.

    • Gus Hales 19/11/2015, 19:00

      Hi John,
      When the Buddhist community UK, were first approached by the military to nominate a potential chaplain, an endorsing authority was formed. As the authority began to speak out about the appointment, the government through a belligerent simply ignored the endorsing authority. A compliant Buddhist was found lured in by ego and pay and the military got their man. The whole sorry story can be found on the attached link. I chipped in my disapproval, but alas it was to late. Note the events of 2009.

      https://luangpor.wordpress.com/forces-chaplaincy/

    • Garry Harriman 20/11/2015, 03:15

      John

      George Carlin was probably one of the best observational comedians in the US. I only learned about him long after I arrived here in 2012. I`m not a fan of American humor in general, but he is, was exceptionally funny, bright, intelligent and very observationally correct.

      Look up Americans and food…….too funny for words. He was also politically critical of the US re` his belief that the USA has been `bought and paid for ` long ago, and I really identify with his analysis on all of his work.

      One of my favorite quotes from him re` Americans and food…….`if you could get sautéed raccoons asses on a stick with butter sauce, Americans would eat them!

      Cheers

      Garry H
      Ga
      USA

  • paul 19/11/2015, 18:15

    Hi Gus, I think your article is excellent and we should all be aware, no matter what faith or religion, of the insidious nature of how those who would like to further their own ends can aggressively try to manipulate our consiuos.
    I am a member or VfP UK and will not hate or harm any other, Peace.

  • Garry Harriman 19/11/2015, 18:42

    Thanks, Gus, very enlightening indeed, epically the diversification of religious faiths that make up society today. I can remember not being permitted to annotate `none` as my religious denomination of military NoK paperwork. I was ordered to annotate a religion, which would be Church of England. It`s just too bad I was a month old in 1970 and thus not old enough to make an informed decision on my religious beliefs at that time! Padres are indeed strange entities, and I remember boxing one when I was part of the RAF boxing team, but they are as very a contradictory element to warfare as religion is to scientific evidence and logic. As for religion….I have not trouble in saying I do not respect an religion or, indeed any claim or belief for which is deluded and for which there is no evidence to support. I believe religion is a man made concept and is no longer relevant or indeed required in this modern age of enlightenment and knowledge. I live in the bible belt of the USA and I have now learned not to engage a believer in conversation as faith is the trump card all the time! In fact, I would like to thank God that I`m an atheist!

    Garry H
    Ga
    USA

  • Garry Harriman 19/11/2015, 19:06

    Remember, God loves you……well, with very stringent conditions and crieteria…..if you don’t meet them, well, you can just burn in hell for eternity, okay?!

    Cheers, God

    • Gus Hales 19/11/2015, 19:33

      A FAITH LYMERIC

      WALK AWAY FROM THOSE EMPTY PEWS
      COME AND HEAR MY ATHEIST VIEWS
      YOU WERE NOT BORN IN SIN
      SO GIVE US A GRIN
      YOU HAVE ONLY YOUR DOGMA TO LOSE

      • Garry Harriman 19/11/2015, 21:44

        Like water and oil, religion and politics do not mix.

        George W Bush and Tony Blair are good examples of that! Here in the USA, right wing evangelicals, the `true believers` have managed to align and embed themselves into the fabric of the Republican Party and the main stream political; agenda that non issues of personal choice (abortion, same sex marriage/parents and more) manage to become issues on what people actually vote for over here, including, shockingly, the teaching of creationism as a viable alternative to proven science such as evolution and natural selection.

        I do not vote anyway, but I would definitely not vote for anyone if they possessed religious belief. watching the RBL Festival of Remembrance via YouTube here in America again reminded me of just how intrinsic the State and the Church are in terms of national cohesion and how it is used to justify and guide the nation on such issues as serious as war and the justification for it.

        God, in my view, fits the profile of a psychopath A jealous God, a self loving and self serving God, a cruel and hating God who will judge you as a person based on who you sleep with, a God who is always seeking money, a homophobic God and a God who kills anyone en mass who does not believe in him or live by his means!

        Yes, like reality TV, the world and humanity will clearly be better off without religion and a realization that we are all one people sharing a world with many and we face the same collective issues!.

        • Gus Hales 20/11/2015, 07:46

          Hi Garry

          I have never understood how Republicans can be anti – abortion but pro war. Could it be they want the next generation to be born so they can be killed on the battlefield?

          Cognitive dissonance at it’s finest.

  • Chris 19/11/2015, 20:12

    During World War Two, my Dad said the men would jokingly say about the priests, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” Most of the men, including my Dad, quietly questioned, amongst themselves, how religion could justify having their clergymen in the army? It didn’t make sense!

  • Graham Horne 19/11/2015, 21:05

    A superb piece of though provoking writing. Very well done.

  • Malcolm Samuel 19/11/2015, 21:06

    That story certainly hits the nail on its head…….

  • Chase 19/11/2015, 21:45

    Guys, I totally agree with everything stated in your comments. Religion of all forms is used by government to control and coerce people to follow their bidding under the guise of doing ‘gods will’. However, in all of this I believe God gets a bad rep. The God they refer to is not the God who sent his son to die on the cross to be the saviour of the world….referred to as the ‘prince of peace’. Jesus calls believers to shun violence, love their enemy. be merciful and be peace-makers…but we can only do this through the power of the Holy Spirit. The problem is not with God…it is always with man!

    Peace brothers

    • Gus Hales 19/11/2015, 22:50

      Hi Chase, where you been, missed you bro.

      Could it be that Man created God in his own image?

      • Garry Harriman 19/11/2015, 23:20

        Gus

        I love your last comment! By God, you may well be on to something there!

        Garry

        • Gus Hales 20/11/2015, 07:20

          Hi Garry,
          It has always mystified me how anyone would want someone else to die for their sins.

          I guess, if I am honest enough, then I will take responsibility for the things I have done wrong in my life, own up to them, learn from them and vow not to do them again. The thought of killing someone by nailing a person to a cross, because I have been a naughty boy, is something I find morally repugnant, i.e. I just don’t get it. However much I try and however much other people try to convince me, I just don’t get it.

          This making someone else die for my misdemeanours (scapegoating), makes these teachings and it’s followers the members of a death cult, and how easy to transfer a death cult into the business of killing on the battlefield. In other words, make the enemy pay for their countries sins. That’s why military chaplains are there and that’s their stance and that’s how they condition minds. There will never be peace in the world, while this stuff is given any value at all.

          I suppose on the personal side, if anyone gets comfort from these faiths, then fair enough, as long as they keep it to themselves. But it is intrinsically associated with the establishment, and religious conditioning is one of the most powerful tools the rich and wealthy have to control the hearts and minds of the masses. To me it appears to be the greatest delusion of all time, but I also acknowledge that others don’t see it that way. IT’S JUST THAT I DON’T GET IT, I JUST DON’T GET IT.

      • chase sydnor 20/11/2015, 10:25

        Hey Gus,

        I enjoyed your article! I agree…man chooses to make God in his own image…which leads to the evil of this world which is organised religion. I appreciate that there are those who will not subscribe to my beliefs and that is cool, we are still on the same team!

        I guess what I am passionate about sharing with others is that God is Love…not judgement….God is good…not angry. I can only come from a biblical viewpoint when I say this…but there is a great misconception that Jesus came to start another religion. This is untrue…Jesus came to bring about the Kingdom of God…never once did he claim to start a religion. In fact, the only people we ever see Jesus really vent his anger at were the Religious political and legal systems of the time who were in collaboration with the Roman Empire to oppress and control their own people through their religious dogma.

        Jesus was only focused on bringing the Gospel [Good News] of the Kingdom of God; “For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” Matthew 4:17. A kingdom which shuns violence, control and greed. Jesus says of these Religious figures; “For they bind heavy burdens…and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they will not move them with one of their fingers” Matthew 23:4.

        My long-winded point is such…when we see these military chaplains and religious establishments which ‘bind heavy burdens’ upon men…they are far from Jesus in their hearts and they are frankly…biblically inaccurate!
        Peace.

        • Gus Hales 23/11/2015, 10:46

          Hi Chase great to hear from you. You are a shinning example of you faith.

          Peace
          Gus

          • Gus Hales 23/11/2015, 12:01

            Hi Chase,
            I respect your faith and your commitment to it, be peace my friend be peace. However quoting scripture has always been an anathema to me as it appears contradictory, and I have never understood the methodology for understanding what is meant to be literal, what is not literal, and what is part of the divine plan. For example,

            Matthew 10:34-36
            34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

            Luke 12:51-53King James Version (KJV)
            51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:

            Luke 22:36New International Version (NIV)
            36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.

            Luke 14-26
            “If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

            Perhaps you can understand why many, me included, reject these teachings because of there hateful and contradictory nature.

            However, once again I am pleased that anyone would get comfort from these teachings. It’s just that I don’t get it, I just don’t get it. And believe me Chase it isn’t for the want of trying.

          • chase sydnor 24/11/2015, 08:00

            Yeah mate, I totally get why you would see such a contradiction in the verses which you have quoted, I myself have asked these questions myself. I will not try to bullshit and presume to tell you I have every answer to the above. However, for example…like you have quite rightly said…picking out verses of scripture and quoting them without proper context can be very dangerous! I totally agree with you on that!

            Let me address Luke 22:36…..Jesus tells the disciples to essentially sell their ‘good’ to buy a sword. This is just before he is taken away in the garden of Gethsemane…Jesus knew an armed mob was coming for him. What you need to understand is that Jesus wanted to prove an important point to the disciples…on a rational level, it made sense to get armed because they were going to have an armed mob coming to get them. Jesus would have been very aware that the disciples would potentially resort to violence to stop him being arrested and taken away buy the Jewish priests and their armed guard…

            Look at Matthew 26:51: “And behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and stroke a servant of the high Priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘put up thy sword into it’s place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword”

            See the thing is mate…Jesus wanted to show the disciples that violence would achieve nothing. You have to look at the greater context of the bible…

        • Garry Harriman 26/11/2015, 14:08

          Hi, Chase

          You are a wonderful person, based on our brief emails some time ago, and we all have the right to believe what we want to believe, just as others have a right to question them. Forgive me, Chase. but your comments do seem to contradict themselves some what. How can you believe religion is a man concept on the one hand, and then say, on the other what you say about God and scripture?

          Where is your evidence for this Jesus and this God, and please do not say the bible, as most believers do because that is not evidence of anything, it`s a bias, heavily translated, heavily copied story that offers no facts of anything or anyone, and there similar stories too depicting other similar mythical people and occurrences.

          Lastly, what god do you believe in ? A Christian God, Mohamed, Thor?

          Garry

  • peter turner 19/11/2015, 23:09

    I was very moved by your piece. These ‘padres’ must have compartmentalised minds, keeping their actual knowledge of a peaceful Jesus in one section and their dedication to the war machine in another. I hope you don’t mind if I copy it onto my blog which is called ‘Zingcreed’ A Christian/atheist polemic.
    In solidarity
    Peter Turner

    • Gus Hales 20/11/2015, 07:34

      Go ahead Peter, glad you found the article useful.

      Peace
      Gus

  • Willy Bach 20/11/2015, 00:27

    This is a topic well worth writing about. The Chaplaincy is designed to give a fig leaf of cover for the amoral reasons for getting soldiers to fight and kill adversary soldiers. There is very little of it that is about giving counsel and solace in the moments before we die of our wounds. It is highly significant that the Chaplains wear officers uniforms and badges of rank. They are part of the power structure and cannot be trusted by us.

    In 1965 I and a fellow Sapper went on a diving trip off the NE coast of Malaysia. We were the only ORs apart from one S?NCO. We were told that on this trip everyone was without rank. So, we took them at their word, and being waggish atheists, we set to challenging the Chaplain (a Captain, I think) on the legitimacy of his job. He defended himself stoutly, asserting that he and fellow officers were making decisions that could lead to our deaths. They needed to salve their own consciences for their decisions and orders. So, Church Parades had to be compulsory or they would feel anxiety. Tick that box and the Geneva Conventions are ‘out the window’ – you could say.

    What did he think of Archbishops blessing battleships? You can imagine that was another lame excuse and more ribbing from us. It was the best fun ever!

    Subsequently, at another time, I was confronted by an aggressively zealous Australian Chaplain who was as out of touch as the one who lectured Ben Griffin. That encounter left me angry.

    • Gus Hales 23/11/2015, 18:55

      Thank you Willy,

      A thoughtful and succinct example on the vapid, vacuous, fatuous and asinine role of military chaplains,

  • maurice 20/11/2015, 00:38

    to Ben and everyone else that wrote thank you i went into the army with no religion as a boy soldier saw the padres for what they were never trusted them as i always thought how can you teach a religion of not to kill in the armed forces.

    and now i hear about Buddhist monks being in the army what a turn round as i now live in a 99% buddhist country i have seen first hand it is all about money and power.

    but then some people need the support of the church to justify the actions of the armed forces

  • Ron Fox 20/11/2015, 12:22

    I have long believed that man created god and that he did so in order to exert control over his fellow man.
    I remember reading that workers on the estates of the landed gentry had to go to church on Sunday or they would be punished. Not by god but their employers. When my son was in the British Army (one tour in Iraq & one in Afghanistan) he was threatened with disciplinary action for refusing to sing ‘God save the Queen’.

    How often do we hear, ‘well,he/she has gone to a far better place’. Bullshit to make people put up with cruel treatment whilst alive. I know this is a simplification but I think it sums up Christianity. I can’t comment on other belief systems tho’ if suicide bombers did not believe that they had a ticket to paradise there might be far fewer of them.

    • Gus Hales 24/11/2015, 13:16

      Hi Ron,

      Spot on, religious conditioning tools are the ultimate way to give moral authority for young men to commit heinous acts.

      As Kieren mentioned in a previous post, how easy it is to kill when you believe you have divine authority to do so.
      Military chaplains are there to convince troops that such authority exists, be they Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim. It is an enigma to me how anyone can believe this stuff.

  • Phillip 22/11/2015, 20:57

    I do remember from my an early posting in the 1990’s a padre who seemed to be a fellow atheist. Quite surreal. He supported me in not having to attend church parades and not having to do fatigues/guard every Sunday.

    During my trade training one Friday a month was with the padre and entitled something along the lines ‘morals, courage and something else I can’t quite remember’. It was an attempt to indoctrinate further us young intelligence operators who would be doing morally questionable things, allow us a clear conscience when we did these things and allow us to suppress our individual moral compass, standards and beliefs. It did work as it took a few years for me to realise I was doing wrong for ‘queen and country’.

    As an atheist I always found the idea of the ‘glorious dead’ and soldiers sacrificing themselves doing gods work as rather offensive. My friend did not sacrifice himself for god or country. He died because there were no jobs in his home town and he needed to support his mother and his disabled brother.

    Godo article!

    • Gus Hales 23/11/2015, 10:59

      Hi Philip,

      I to remember the monthly Padre sessions during basic training. Where we tackled such profound subjects as, make sure you stay in touch with your family, write to your mother and what do you do on Sundays. Then like thought for the day on radio 4, Jesus was shoe horned in at the end. If the subject of killing ever came up it tended to be as an after thought, as opposed to the heart of the matter.

      However, the real use of chaplains didn’t register with me until I was in a sheep shearing shed at Bluff Cove in the Falklands, shortly before approaching the task FRV. One of the guys lost the plot through uncontrollable fear, the Padre applied his soothing balm and the young soldier was now readjusted enough to continue with the mission.
      So no prizes for guessing the value of Padres to the military, but absolutely useless in the pursuit of peace.

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