Forum on the Military Chaplaincy

committed to free and diverse religious expression

Is the Forum just for Christians?

No.  The Forum is non-denominational.  As American patriots, are united in our commitment to a pluralistic and diverse country.  We believe in individual thought, social responsibility, and a constitutional military chaplaincy. Our members come from all walks of faith and value systems.  We respect the integrity of thought enough to fight for it.

How old is the Forum and what has it done?

The Forum has existed since 2007.  During the fight to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), the Forum was influential in providing thought leadership and well-resourced position papers to Pentagon and White House leadership.  Many of those meetings were, by necessity, confidential at the time.  Our position papers can be found on our Policy and Position tab, here.   Additionally, Forum members were active advocates in Congress, the Pentagon, and at the White House throughout the entire successful fight to repeal DADT.

What does the Forum do today?

The Forum serves as the foremost authoritative resource for diversity, inclusion, and constitutional practices in the military chaplaincy. We serve chaplains, active duty, reserve, and inactive military personnel.  We serve our communities, legislators, and the press by providing accurate, fact-based analysis, and thought leadership.  Our members write blogs, op eds, give interviews, preach, teach, and engage in advocacy.  Because of our strong relationships and integrity, we continue to act as trusted advisors to leadership in the Pentagon, Congress, and the White House.

Can I join the Forum?

Yes.  If you are committed to our mission statement and vision, we welcome your voice in making America’s military chaplaincy stronger.  Simply fill out the form on our JOIN US page and we will contact you to ascertain your interests and how and if we can work together. 

Is the Forum a gay group?

No. All Forum members respect diversity and inclusion.  Forum members come from all sexual orientations, races, religious backgrounds, national origins, and physical abilities.  We work together to ensure no one is marginalized, diminished, or discriminated against by a member of the military chaplaincy.  We recognize the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender servicemembers and we are committed to meeting those needs.

With what groups does the Forum work?

The Forum is allied and works with many groups.  Our partners include:  Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), Human Rights Campaign (HRC), OutServe, KnightsOut, USNAOut, Brite Divinity School, SAGALA, etc.

Is the Forum only for military people?

No.  The Forum has many civilian members and associates.  There is an important role for non-military people to help the Forum build coalitions and partnerships with Interfaith councils, progressive organizations, and community groups. 

Are you funded by the government?

No.  The Forum is funded through volunteer donations from its members, friends, and supporters.  You can donate to the Forum here.

What does a military chaplain do?

Chaplains are non-combatant military officers who minister to their fellow servicemembers and their families.  Chaplains may also provide spiritual guidance and counseling to civilians who work alongside military personnel.  The two primary duties of a military chaplain are to PERFORM or PROVIDE for the spiritual needs of all members of the military who seek their help.  Their work is defined to be inclusive since chaplains must support the free exercise of religion for men and women of all faiths. Individuals who seek to become chaplains must meet the military standards establish for health, physical fitness, age, education, citizenship, past criminal history, and suitability for serviceAdditionally, all chaplains must earn an endorsement from an endorsing agency that is recognized by the Department of Defense, representing one or more faith groups in the United States. Chaplains have a constitutional duty to ensure that the separation of church and state is honored.

What can be done to encourage participation in the chaplaincy by religious organizations?

The Forum has a Seminary Initiative in which issues surrounding the theological training and the Chaplain Corps are explored.  This initiative will bring together seminary leaders from a broad spectrum of thought and traditions to discuss why divinity students are not choosing to serve in the military chaplaincy and what can be done to bring greater diversity to the Chaplain Corps to better reflect the demographics of America.

What is the current composition of the Chaplain Corps in the US Armed Forces today?

Today’s Chaplaincy Corps is experiencing an imbalance of demographics.  The faithof chaplains are not reflective of the military rank and file whom they serve.  For instance, “even though just 3 percent of the military’s enlisted personnel and officers call themselves Southern Baptist, Pentecostal or some form of evangelical, 33 percent of military chaplains are members of one of those groups, according to Pentagon statistics.” Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/12/evangelical-christianity-_n_807635.html

Does the Forum support forcing chaplains to go against their conscience and violate their religious liberties even if they don’t support gay rights?

No. The Forum is against coercive religious practice in all its forms.  Chaplains should never be forced by law, regulation, or convention to violate their consciences, nor should their exercise of religious liberty be impinged.  Each denomination and faith tradition has its own criteria and standards of belief and behavior.  However, every chaplain has a duty to either perform or provide services for military personnel.  Thus, if a chaplain is requested to perform a rite or service that the chaplain does not personally support or condone, that chaplain does not have to perform that rite or service, BUT the chaplain has a duty to get another chaplain to provide that rite or service.

Is the Forum at 501c(3) organization?

The Forum is in the process of being recognized by the IRS as a 501c(3) organization.  Please watch this site for further news.

How can I find a supportive chaplain/therapist/clergy member?

The Forum actively seeks coalitions, partnerships, and alliances with chaplains, therapists, clergy, and other mental and spiritual health providers.   Visit our Partner and Allies page for listings.

Featured Posts

“Pathways to Military Chaplaincy” Report

“Pathways to Military Chaplaincy” Report

The Forum on the Military Chaplaincy provided leadership for a consultation entitled “Pathways to Military Chaplaincy” held at Boston University School of Theology April 8-9, 2016. We are pleased to provide the summary and report from that very successful consultation.

DoD Lifts Ban on Transgender Service.

DoD Lifts Ban on Transgender Service.

The Department of Defense has lifted the long standing ban on service by transgender citizens. This has been a thoroughly researched and vetted decision. The Department has issued both a press release and a memo on the new policy.

Answering the Question of Transgender Showering

Answering the Question of Transgender Showering

This issue of what shower transgender service members should use to respect privacy was considered by a distinguished commission before the policy was changed. Transgender Shower Guidelines provide this information and should prove helpful to a chaplain or commander who may have to deal with this issue