Evangelical Military Chaplains
In a front page article today (free registration required), The New York Times reports on the "problem" of the growing number of evangelical and conservative Christian chaplains in the U.S. military: . . .
Figures provided by the Air Force show that from 1994 to 2005 the number of chaplains from many evangelical and Pentecostal churches rose, some doubling. For example, chaplains from the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministries International increased to 10 from none. The Church of the Nazarene rose to 12 from 6.
At the same time, the number of chaplains from the Roman Catholic Church declined to 94 from 167, and there were declines in more liberal, mainline Protestant churches: the United Church of Christ to 3 from 11, the United Methodist Church to 50 from 64.
Other branches of the military did not make available similar statistics, but officials say they are seeing the same trend.
However, the article also points out:
The churches that once supplied most of the chaplains say they are now having trouble recruiting for a variety of reasons. Many members of their clergy are now women, who are less likely to seek positions as military chaplains or who entered the ministry as a second career and are too old to qualify. The Catholic Church often does not have enough priests to serve its parishes, let alone send them to the military.
There are also political reasons. Anne C. Loveland, a retired professor of American history at Louisiana State University and the author of "American Evangelicals and the U.S. Military, 1942-1993," said the foundation for the change in the chaplaincy was laid during the Vietnam War.
"Evangelical denominations were very supportive of the war, and mainline liberal denominations were very much against it," Ms. Loveland said. "That cemented this growing relationship between the military and the evangelicals."
Hat tip to Ed Veith at World Magazine Blog.