At an Armed Services Committee meeting on “Religious Accommodations in the Armed Services,” a Republican Congressman argued that a former Jewish Navy Chaplain’s assertion that sectarian Christian prayers before and after battles, and in other unofficial settings, was a harbinger of the apocalypse.
North Carolina Representative Walter Jones expressed discontent with remarks made by former U.S. Navy Chaplain Rabbi Bruce Kahn, who discussed the Chaplain’s responsibility to adapt to troops’ needs, rather than troops to the beliefs of the chaplain. Kahn says that the “challenge is for the chaplain to adjust to the legitimate requirements of the troops, not for the troops to adjust to the denominational practices of the chaplain.”
Naturally, as this allows for something that does not push the Christian religion on targets, this comment infuriated Jones.
“For us to say,” Jones said, “that ‘Because I am Jewish, I have to close a prayer in a certain way,’ or ‘Because I’m a Christian or an Imam,’ it doesn’t matter — it’s America. And these kids are giving their lives in Muslim countries, so that the Muslim Imams can have freedoms to pray as they see fit. Yet in America, where they came from to give their life, our chaplains are being challenged on how to close a prayer?”
“It’s a sad day for America when that’s happening,” he continued. “It’s a sad day for the military.” He complained that in the ‘good old days,’ no one ever said to be conscious of anyone else’s feelings and beliefs.
“I talked to a chaplain for General Schwartzkopf, and the general said, ‘We need to have a prayer before battle, we need to have a prayer after battle.’ He never said to me, ‘You be conscious as to how you close your prayer.’ If we’re starting to dictate the conscience of our ministers and our chaplains, then, America — God forgive us, because we’re not protecting freedom in America,” Jones said in his nearly incoherent ramblings.
Jones asked if it was “fair or unfair” to allow military chaplains to use prayer to push their religions on others, or, “close a prayer outside of a religious service according to the dictates of the chaplain’s conscience.”
Director of Military Affairs at the Liberty Institute Michael Berry, and Executive Director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty agreed that it was. Kahn, however, said it is “not fair at all” to the troops.
“Then you believe,” Jones continued, “that the government should dictate how your conscience functions? Then it’s a sad day, and I would fight for a Jewish rabbi chaplain’s right to close a prayer as they see fit, and if we’re going to start challenging people of different faiths and religions, then we’re headed toward the end of the world.”
Watch it for yourself, below: