May 25, 2004

Where were the Chaplains?

As a former military officer, that question rings in my mind every time I read something about Abu Ghraib. I certainly can't judge or throw stones here; I spent ten years of my life working with Soldiers and I think I've seen some of the best and worst that humanity has to offer in their faces and their actions. The kind of authority that comes with carrying a rifle or driving a tank has a tendency to bring out one or the other in a person. That ought to be why we have Chaplains in our military--to help the men and women who carry the rifles to rise above their base instincts and be what America and the world need them to be. The media is full of blame-casting over the torture at Abu Ghraib, and heaven knows there's more than enough to go around. It's been called a command failure, a system failure, and a personal moral/ethical failure. But, from my (admittedly distant) perspective, it was also a ministry failure.

(For more thoughts on the religious nature of the failure at Abu Ghraib, check out yesterday's CT Weblog: The Religious Side of the Abu Ghraib Scandal.)

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