The Washington Post reported today the story of Army chaplain Don Larson, who seems to be the victim of religious discrimination in transferring his credentials from a Pentecostal body to a Wiccan one, and now he’s out of the chaplain corps.
There are a few troubling points here. First, Larson’s wildly pluralistic faith habits — moving seamlessly from the Bhagavad-gita to the Torah to Wiccan worship to Dr. Seuss — are probably more like than unlike his peers. Second, there really is a base of Wiccans and an endorsing agency ready to adopt him, which speaks to his legitimacy better than, say, Evangelical chaplains who go poaching for souls in the Armed Forces. Third, there’s that pesky non-establishment business in the U.S. Constitution that should ideally make military chaplaincy matters ultra-non-prejudicial. Lastly, I would trust Larson to be non-prejudicial in his ministry to service personnel, whatever their religion, and he has the respect of his peers.
So what went wrong? Hmmm. Read for yourself and decide.
“For Gods and Country“ Alan Cooperman, Washington Post, 19 February 2007