In Fall 2018, U.S Army Chaplain Imam Khallid Shabazz, the Army's first division-level Muslim chaplain, will teach an online course called "Chaplaincy for Military" at United. Below, Dr. Shabazz explains what it means to be a military chaplain and what the role entails:
A chaplain in the military is an enlisted soldier and religious leader that supports the religious beliefs, traditions and customs of soldiers in a pluralistic environment for the purpose of strengthening the spiritual lives of soldiers and their families. Military chaplains normally represent a religion or faith group, but work with military personnel of all faiths to ensure religious freedom for all people. There are two guiding principles of a military chaplain and they are Perform or Provide. The military is a pluralistic environment, therefore if a chaplain is a Christian, they are able to Provide Christian services for Christian soldiers and family members, but they can’t Perform an Islamic service so they will Provide an Islamic chaplain for the soldier that is requesting Islamic religious services.
Military chaplains have a plethora of things we are responsible for, but I have condensed them into six areas of emphasis, including:
- Chaplains will not be required to perform a religious role (such as offering a prayer, reading, dedication, or blessing) in worship services, command ceremonies, or other events, if doing so would be in variance with the tenets or practices of their faith. Chaplains will perform their professional military religious leader ministrations in accordance with the tenets or faith requirements of the religious organization that certifies and endorses them.
- Chaplains provide for religious support, pastoral care, and the moral and spiritual wellbeing of the command (10 USC 3547). Chaplains are required by law to hold religious services for members of the command to which they are assigned, when practicable.
- The chaplain is a teacher of religion and provides religious instruction. The chaplain is responsible to the commander for the religious education program.
- Chaplains will minister to the personnel of their unit and/or facilitate the free-exercise rights of all personnel, regardless of religious affiliation of either the chaplain or the unit member.
- Chaplains, at their discretion, may perform marriage ceremonies for authorized personnel upon request and in accordance with the laws of the State or country where the marriage is to take place. Chaplain participation in marriage preparations and ceremonies is in keeping with individual conscience and distinctive faith requirements.
- Chaplains will conduct or assist in arranging for burial services at the interring of members of the military service, retired military personnel, and other personnel as authorized by DOD policy, Army regulations, and applicable law.
Military chaplains are essential to the overall well-being of the staff and serve a prophetic voice to confront the issues of religious accommodation, the obstruction of free exercise of religion, and moral conflict within the military values. (FM 6–0). In summation, the military chaplain is a caretaker, a provider and a confidential provider for Soldiers and family members in times of peace and war.
Army Regulation 165-1 Army Chaplain Corps Activities
Curious about Interreligious Chaplaincy at United and what it means to study at pluralistic seminary?