The military just revised again it list of “faiths” from which new recruits can choose as their own. The list is now 216.
This list is a fascinating peak at our entire society. Not only are there 216 choices but several of these choices refer to a groups of beliefs that are further sliced and diced.
The Chaplain Corp tries to keep current on these so Chaplains can respect whatever the views are of individual soldiers. I can’t imagine, however, how a Chaplain who grew up in and was ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention serves the spiritual needs of a Wiccan soldier.
I’m sure it is popular in Congress to fund the Chaplain Corp. But one has to wonder if it has outlived its usefulness.
Today, a large part of the military is outsourced to private contractors. Trucking, food service and many other duties are performed not by military personnel but employees of corporations. When they are working in harm’s way and need a clergy, I assume there are none available for them and they tough it out.
Atheist soldiers have toughed it out for two hundred years of our history and one assumes religious soldiers can do the same. There are physicians with psychiatric training around I assume.
If the current growth of religious variety continues, which seems likely, we will eventually have a thousand then two thousand different religions represented in the military. Even with the current 216 the military chaplains are unable to service thousands of military personnel.
The number of religions has outrun Chaplain Corp.