Reader: War and religion 


Recent letters to the Independent concerning the $68-million renovation of the Air Force Academy chapel reflect a misunderstanding of the difference between a "church" and a "chapel," as well as the basic function of U.S. military chaplains.

A "church" is a community of individuals who meet to express shared beliefs through established rituals. A "chapel" is a building.

Chaplains on military bases perform functions mostly identical to pastors, rabbis and priests in civilian communities; however, chaplains and their assistants receive additional training that prepares them to serve the unique needs of all troops deployed in hostile environments. It's not the role of the U.S. military to wage peace. Therefore, insisting that military funds be used to establish interfaith drum circles for tolerance training or whatever completely misses this point.

Chaplains provide emotional and spiritual support and counseling to those who are required to commit acts of organized, sanctioned violence against other humans while in service to this nation. The rest of us have a moral obligation during hazardous times to provide these people a safe space to practice their First Amendment rights to assemble and worship according to their beliefs.

The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis consecrated its first chapel in 1908; the Army's first at West Point came in 1836. How much has been spent on those facilities in 110 years in today's dollars?

When the USAFA chapel opened in 1962, the view from the interstate was of an architectural marvel surrounded by a breathtaking wilderness landscape. It was one of the few tourist attractions south of Denver.

Today it's an internationally recognized Colorado landmark with an identity separate from its military roots and purpose, and still one of the most popular destinations in the state. Let's accept that reality and agree to do what's best for the Pikes Peak region.

— Rev. Gary Glover, Former U.S. Army Master Sergeant

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