Friday, July 26, 2013

Military Attacks Another Christian Chaplain

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

President Dwight D. Eisenhower said during a 1954 speech, "I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in the fox holes."

The "no atheists in the foxholes" statement is said to have been made first by Catholic priest Father William Cummings. It is said Eisenhower was quoting him.

There may not be any atheists in foxholes, but there are some here at home and they are relentlessly working to remove any vestige of God from our military and our culture.

President Eisenhower would be shocked. So should we. We should also be informed.

Our Military leaders continue to act on command to the atheist's orders.

This time it is toward a Christian chaplain who quoted Father William Cummings, who was quoted by President Eisenhower.

Lt. Col. Reyes, a Christian chaplain stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, is an ordained minister whose duties are to provide religious instruction and spiritual counseling.

He has a page on the base's website called "Chaplain's Corner."

Recently he posted an essay titled, "No Atheists In Foxholes: Chaplins Gave All In World War II." It is a touching and meaningful column.

The essay has been abruptly removed from the base website..

Col. Brian Duffy, the base commander, told Fox News it was removed "out of respect for those who considered its title offensive."

He said, "The 673'd Air Base Wing does not advocate any particular religion or belief set over another and upon learning of the complaints from some readers, the article was promptly removed."

But atheism is a "set of beliefs." It's even a religion of sorts. By removing a Christian message, they are advocating a particular set of beliefs over another.

Removing the Christian message is advocating atheism in this case.

So who complained?

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an atheist group sent a letter to the Air Force claiming 42 people complained, therefore demanding the essay be taken down immediately.

And Col. Duffy's comment that he "promptly removed it" is an understatement.

Within 5 hours of the Air Force receiving the complaint letter, they took down the essay.

This is, however, 4 hours longer than it took the commander at the Mountain Home air base in Idaho to remove a picture from the dining hall that included a Scripture reference.

Chaplin Reyes did not in any way attack or insult anyone with his comments.

This is his essay that was "promptly removed":

“Chaplain’s Corner: No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II”
By Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes

Many have heard the familiar phrase, “There is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole.”

Where did this come from?

Research I verified in an interview with former World War II prisoner of war Roy Bodine (my friend) indicates the phrase has been credited to Father William Cummings.

As the story goes, Father Cummings was a civilian missionary Catholic priest in the Philippines.

The phrase was coined during the Japanese attack at Corregidor.

During the siege, Cummings had noticed non-Catholics were attending his services.

Some he knew were not Catholic, some were not religious and some were even known atheists.

Life-and-death experiences prompt a reality check.

Even the strongest of beliefs can change, and, I may add, can go both ways – people can be drawn to or away from “faith.”

With the pending surrender of allied forces to the Japanese, Cummings uttered the famous phrase “There is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole.”

In one of my many discussions with Roy, he distinctly remembered a period on the “Hell Ships” – these were ships the Japanese used to bring POWs from the Philippines back to Japan.

They were unmarked and thus ‘fair game’ for attacks from the allies from the air and sea.

Of the 3,000-plus POWs listed on the ships, only 180 survived the journey.

“When our own planes were attacking us,” Roy said, “I remember Father Cummings calming us down by reciting the Lord’s Prayer and offering up prayers on our behalf.

For a brief moment I did not hear the yells and screams of dying men as our boat was attacked by our own men.”

He went on to say, “There was a peaceful quiet during the attack that I cannot explain nor have experienced since.”

Later on during the trip to Japan, Cummings, after giving his food to others who needed it more, succumbed to his own need and died of starvation.

Everyone expresses some form of faith every day, whether it is religious or secular.

Some express faith by believing when they get up in the morning they will arrive at work in one piece, thankful they have been given another opportunity to enjoy the majesty of the day; or express relief the doctor’s results were negative.

The real question is, “Is it important to have faith in ‘faith’ itself or is it more important to ask, ‘What is the object of my faith?’”

Roy never affirmed or expressed whether his faith was rooted in religion or not, but for a moment in time on the “Hell Ships,” he believed in Cummings’ faith.

What is the root or object of your faith?

Is it something you can count on in times of plenty or loss; peace or chaos; joy or sorrow; success or failure?

What is ‘faith’ to you?

The MRFF has accused Chaplain Reyes of going on an "anti-secular diatribe" and publicly denigrating "those without religion."

The base not only removed his comments, but offered an apology to the atheists saying, "We will work to avoid recurrence."

Does that mean they will never allow a Christian chaplain to speak publicly of his Christian faith?

Not surprisingly, that is still not enough for the atheist group.

Blake Page with the MRFF says, "Faith based hate is hate all the same." And is demanding that "Lt. Col. Reyes must be appropriately reprimanded."

Mikey Weinstein, president of MRFF, has called Christians "fundamentalist monsters" seeking to impose a theocratic "reign of terror."

He has described sharing the gospel or ones personal testimony in the military as an act of "spiritual rape" that makes believers "enemies of the Constitution" who are committing an act of "sedition and treason" against this nation.

Yet when he calls, the US military stands at attention and salutes.

I understand the military is not the church, but is this a prelude of what is to come if biblical teaching is spoken outside the four walls of the church?

Be vigilant.

Paul had a bad day when he wrote 2 Corinthians 7:4,5,6. His experience may reflect some of our own in these troubled times.

"I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. For indeed when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Out side were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us..."

May the peace of Christ be with you. And may you be comforted by the grace and goodness of God.

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.


  1. If religion is so offensive to some in the military, how long will it be before they don't even HAVE an chaplain? He'll be offensive just by his very presence!

    1. Getting rid of chaplain is actually a pretty good idea. If our military personnel need counseling, let's get them the best competent, professional, highly trained counseling with no agenda other than the client's health. It appears to me that our government offering religious guidance and proselytizing violates the establishment clause anyway. It's probably one of those things that has just always been. We should revisit it.

    2. Chaplains aren't just counselors. In the case of the Catholic (and some Protestant) ones, they also dispense sacraments that members need to receive regularly. Deprive them of that, and they simply will refuse to enlist.

      Which is one way that this chaplain-hounding trend is going to be detrimental. Whether Weinstein likes it or not, Christians of one sort or another constitute the bulk of the armed forces. If very many of them refuse to re-enlist because their faith is discouraged, we're going to have a mighty small military.

    3. How is saying a chaplain shouldn't lambast or diminish other service member's beliefs, 'discouraging their faith'? The policy is called pluralism and has long been the way chaplains have performed - they are of a particular faith but they always acknowledged their oath as an officer to the constitution and respect that all service members have a right to their own faith, whether they agree with it or not. A historical part of this is that chaplains do not disparage other beliefs, but rather just advocate their own if they feel the need.

      The tradition is being eroded by 'in your face' advocates for a particular faith that have no compunction of saying derogatory comments about beliefs held by other service members. This is what has changed and is what's causing these issues.

    4. Government sanctioning of dispensing sacraments to government employees definitely violates the constitution.

      People refusing to enlist because they couldn't get sacraments can get in line behind people refusing to enlist be because DADT is gone who are already in line behind those refusing to enlist because we let blacks in side by side with whites.

      It'll be a mighty small line. This is just another scare tactic that will never be a real issue.

  2. To be a military chaplain is to serve the spiritual needs of all the service members and this isn't an easy task because they are of all faiths. I was in the Army for over 13 years, worked directly with chaplains through most of those and I never saw one say something negative about another faith. Positive things about their own, but never saying another was lesser since each service-member had a right to their beliefs, and a chaplain is there to serve their needs in their time of need, not the chaplains.

    But times seem to have changed, there is a new breed of 'in your face' chaplains that seem to be saying 'my way or the highway' regarding their particular flavor of belief, there to serve themselves, not the service members. Now this case is a bit different, it is a historical quote but it is untrue - there have been and will be atheists in foxholes, in the military, and saying there aren't is not only not true but derogatory to them.

    Lesson learned. How about a return to those days where chaplains serve the service members in their personal beliefs? And for chaplains who can't do that, how about considering a civilian career and opening that spot up for someone who does have the service members needs foremost in their mind?

  3. The atheists need to lighten up!!! What in the world are they doing reading such "offensive religious" material anyway? I find pornography offensive so I don't read or look at it. The atheist seems so consumed with their own disbelief that they cannot practice what they "preach". They should learn to tolerate and ignore what they don't believe in just as much as they expect Christians to tolerate their atheist beliefs.

    A Christian chaplain's job is to provide God's comfort and encouragement for anyone who wants to have it. If someone doesn't want to hear about God then they should respect those that do and just not read posts by chaplains. They should check their Constitutional facts also. The fathers of our country wanted to keep the government out of religion - not religion out of the government. Hu-rah!

    1. Excellent reply! You're absolutely right!

      And when it comes to marriage, well, if we don't agree with our neighbor's marriage, we should just learn to, as you say, "tolerate" and "ignore" their beliefs and move on. If someone doesn't want to hear about the marriages of gay couples, then we should just "respect those that do" just as much as we expect gays to tolerate our beliefs!

      Such simple and sound advice.

      (If only Christians would show by example with others how they expect to be treated themselves.)

    2. "Anonymous 11:08 AM" your reply in response to "Anonymous 9:09 AM" is "apples and oranges". . . You can choose to ignore a blog post that you don't believe in or agree with without consequences. . . but if you ignore that which has been legislated into law, such as the "Same Sex Marriage Act" recently passed in the State of Washington you stand the risk of serious consequences. For example: On Tuesday, April 9th, the Attorney General of the State of Washington, Bob Ferguson, filed a consumer protection law suit against Arlene's Flowers and Gifts, a Richland florist that refused to supply flowers to the same-sex marriage of a long time customer.

      According to the Seattle PI, the owner of Arlene's told this customer that she was sorry, but couldn't do his wedding because of her relationship to Jesus Christ. They then hugged each other and the customer left, and the owner assumed it was the end of the story. But the customer and his partner did not ignore her refusal and posted it online and the story went viral at which time the AG's office filed a complaint in Benton County Superior Court asking for a permanent injunction requiring Arlene's Flowers and Gifts to comply with provisions of the Consumer Protection Act. . . It's hard to "tolerate" and "ignore" that!

    3. The Christian Chaplian is first and foremost responsible to God, to preach the gospel, to care for the spiritual needs of others within the confines of biblical teaching. If someone can't handle that, go to the rabbi or the imam or secular phycologist.

      Craig in Lacey

    4. Sorry Craig, that's not true. Many smaller units only have one chaplain for all the troops and they are responsible for all their spiritual needs no matter their religion. Again of they can't do the job then free up the spot for someone will to do it.

    5. We understand that you want them to preach the gospel to public employees on the public dime and you are correct - we can't handle that. We WILL end it.

    6. Wow, that didn't come across right. Meant that you are correct in your assessment that we can't handle it. Didn't mean that you are correct in your desire mix religion and civil employees.

    7. Anonymous, there's a factor you're missing here. Those chaplains aren't hired because the government wants the Gospel preached. They're hired because servicemen spend long periods of time in situations where it would be difficult if not impossible to attend the services of their faith. Chaplains are maintained so that those personnel don't have to forego their religious requirements during those times. It's no more government endorsement than making meat available in meals is suppression of vegetarians.

    8. Providing meat is endorsement of meat.


Faith & Freedom welcomes your comment posts. Remember, keep it short, keep it on message and relevant, and identify your town.