Saturday, October 5, the GOP-led House sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel with a resolution stating that military chaplains should not be subject during the shutdown. Their rhetoric echoed a FOX News rumor that even a chaplain who volunteered to work without pay was told he would be arrested if he came on the base. The resolution overwhelmingly passed with a bipartisan 400-1 vote. The single "no" vote came from Rep. William Enyart, D-Ill. This country has sacred cows. Any vote against the military is at risk and any vote against religion and the military is doubly at risk.
According to an Examiner article http://www.examiner.com/article/house-to-chuck-hagel-don-t-arrest-milita... the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, warned that some bases may not be able to hold Mass due to the shutdown.
"If the government shutdown continues through the weekend, there will be no Catholic priest to celebrate Mass this Sunday in the chapels at some U.S. military installations where non-active-duty priests serve as government contractors," said John Schlageter, General Counsel of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.
“Catholics, he said, make up 25 percent of the military, but only comprise eight percent of the Chaplain Corps.
"That means approximately 275,000 men and women in uniform, and their families, are served by only 234 active-duty priests," he explained.
“To make up for the shortfall, the government provides government service and contract priests. But these priests are forbidden from working -- even on a voluntary basis -- during a government shutdown.
"During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so," he said.
Who dares challenge support for military chaplains? They are essential to the morale, mental health, and salvation of men and women who are risking their lives to protect our country here and in far-flung bases, our religious leaders argue. This past two years I had a golfing partner who was a military chaplain, a good golfer and good man committed to the emotional well-being of those he ministered to.
However, even the Friendly Athiest, July 24, 2013, rather than arguing separation of church and state, featured an out-of-step resolution from our established religions arguing for chaplains:
“Last month, Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) suggested an amendment (PDF) to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow Humanist, ethical culturist, or atheist chaplains in the Army Chaplains Corps:
“The Secretary of Defense shall provide for the appointment, as officers in the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces, of persons who are certified or ordained by non-theistic organizations and institutions, such as humanist, ethical culturalist, or atheist.
The amendment made so much sense that, of course, Republicans were quick to condemn it:
“They don’t believe anything,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) “I can’t imagine an atheist accompanying a notification team as they go into some family’s home to let them have the worst news of their life and this guy says, ‘You know, that’s it — your son’s just worms, I mean, worm food.’”
“This I think would make a mockery of the chaplaincy,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). “The last thing in the world we would want to see was a young soldier who may be dying and they’re at a field hospital and the chaplain is standing over that person saying to them, ‘If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future.’”
“You can see the full debate on the issue in my previous post.
“Needless to say, the amendment failed on a 43-18 vote.
“After that, Rep. Fleming, who wrongly believes Humanist chaplains want to tell people “There is no hope for you in the future,” sponsored a different amendment (attached to H.R. 2397, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014) that explicit forbade atheist chaplains: It prevented “funds from being used to appoint chaplains without an endorsing agency”… and since all the endorsing agencies are religious, that left out any non-religious chaplains.
“Late last night, on a 253-173 vote, the House approved that amendment. Only two Republicans voted against it — Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AL).” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/24/republican-led-h...
Not unlike the holy cows of India, we take-for-granted that military chaplains are here to stay.