In Affirmation Of “Cooperation Without Compromise”: The Chaplaincy In A Pluralistic Society -- By: Page Brooks

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 09:1 (Spring 2012)
Article: In Affirmation Of “Cooperation Without Compromise”: The Chaplaincy In A Pluralistic Society
Author: Page Brooks

In Affirmation Of “Cooperation Without Compromise”:
The Chaplaincy In A Pluralistic Society

Page Brooks

Page Brooks is Assistant Professor of Theology New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as Brigade Chaplain for the 139th Regional Support Group, Jackson Barracks, LA, Louisiana National Guard.

Army chaplains have been ministering to soldiers in every minor and major conflict of the United States. In 1775, the Second Continental Congress authorized chaplains to serve for $20 a month, just above the pay of a first lieutenant. Throughout the history of the US Army Chaplaincy, chaplains have served in a variety of roles: religious leader, commander’s ethical advisor, education officer, and when necessary, even a paramedic for the wounded.1

Over the centuries, the Army Chaplaincy developed a way of ministering that is now summed up in the phrase “cooperation without compromise.” I believe this approach is not only useful for military chaplaincy, but also other types of chaplaincy. My purpose in this essay is to affirm this ethical stance for military, marketplace, hospital, and other forms of chaplaincy in a pluralistic and postmodern society. I also wish to show how this ethical stance is useful for other types of chaplaincy as well. Last, I will identify major issues that I believe will be challenges in the most immediate future of the chaplaincy.

One Phrase

What do we mean by “cooperation without compromise”? The phrase means that chaplains can serve in the military and cooperate with others without having to compromise their own convictions or beliefs. In the military, chaplains constantly interact with those from other faiths, whether they are soldiers or fellow chaplains. Chaplains are assigned to units and are charged with the spiritual care of every soldier in the

unit, not just soldiers that are of the chaplain’s particular faith group. For example, Catholic chaplains are not only taking care of Catholic soldiers. Rather, chaplains care for every soldier in the unit by providing counseling and spiritual care whenever and wherever they can. The chaplain also advises the commander on the welfare of the soldiers and gives an account of their morale. In such a way, the chaplain is quite literally caring for every soldier in the unit.

At the same time, the chaplain also works with other chaplains from other faiths. It would not be unusual in any deployed environment for several chaplains to be located at one base, representing several different faith groups. While deployed to Iraq in 2010, I served with eight ...

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