Editor’s note: As a special service for our readers, WND is running a series of dispatches from Allan Wall chronicling his transition from civilian life as he prepares to fight with his National Guard unit in Iraq. Allan will write for us as often as he is able to let our readers vicariously experience what people in his position are going through. We hope you will check regularly for Allan’s dispatches and encourage your friends and family to do likewise.

Chaplains are clergy in uniform – military officers who serve as clergymen.

In order to become a chaplain, the applicant must be trained and recommended by his own religious group. They represent a wide variety of religious beliefs.

Chaplains are forbidden to bear arms, so they don’t use a rifle. There is, however, an enlisted man called a chaplain’s assistant, who helps the chaplain. The chaplain’s assistant does bear arms, in fact, one of his responsibilities is to, if need be, protect the chaplain.

At a big post like Fort XYZ, a great variety of religious services, drawn from the various branches of Christendom, is available.

Protestants can choose from the following options: Lutheran, Episcopal, Contemporary, Gospel, Evangelical, Liturgical, Traditional, General Protestant and Samoan Christian Worship. There are Catholic masses available at various times and in various chapels, and you also have the option of mass in Spanish. Fort XYZ also offers Eastern Orthodox services.

When possible, I have attended the General Protestant services offered by my particular unit. Our chaplains are going with us to Iraq.

Not all Americans profess a form of Christianity as their religion. As a reflection of this, there are also chaplains, and services, for non-Christian religions. At Fort XYZ, there are such services for Jews, Mormons and Muslims. (The Muslim chaplain was deployed to the Middle East, so Fort XYZ Muslims were informed as to where they could attend services.)

There is even a member of our unit designated as a representative of the Wiccan religion.

From the point of view of the military, the presence of Muslim chaplains serves several ends. The military, and the government in general, want to prove that our country is not in a war against Islam. Besides conducting services for Muslim soldiers, Muslim chaplains try to convince non-Muslim soldiers that Islam is a religion of peace and really has nothing to do with terrorism.

Is this a wise policy for the long-term? It depends on the real nature of Islam. Is it a religion of peace hijacked by terrorists, or are the roots of Islamic terrorism intrinsic to it?

Does Islam promote freedom of religion, or will it suppress the practitioners of other religions? Can Islam be successfully integrated into the American way of life, or is it a threat to our values?

These are the real questions that should be asked, and debated, before Islam becomes stronger in our nation. It seems though, that our national leaders don’t want to deal with such questions. But we ought to demand that they do.

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