Celebrating our religious freedom
By Tech. Sgt. Jack West , 376th AEW Chaplain's Assistant
/ Published April 20, 2007
4/16/2007 - MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan --
One of the primary reasons for the forming of the original 13 colonies was the desire for religious freedom.
Having left a country with an established national church, the founding fathers knew the importance of making sure that would not happen in the newly founded United States.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Chaplains in the military are here to help servicemembers celebrate their religion - whatever that may be. Maj. Gen. Charles Baldwin, Air Force Chief of Chaplains, states that the core values of the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Service are "Glorifying God, Honoring Airmen, Serving All".
Glorifying God - The Chaplain Service is here to help members honor their God according to the tenets of their belief. The Air Force recognizes over 2,000 religious groups which include Catholic, Protestant, Latter-Day Saint, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Wiccan faiths.
Honoring Airmen - Every Airman has the right to worship in accordance with his or her faith or to not worship at all. No Airman should ever feel pressured to believe a certain way or feel persecuted because they believe differently or not at all. The goal of the Air Force Chaplain Service is to help all Airmen, regardless of their faith group affiliation, to worship in accordance with their system of beliefs.
Serving All - The Chaplain Service provides for the religious needs of all people assigned to the base.
Frequently, military members will ask Chapel Staff about how they can practice their faith when services aren't offered on-base for their particular group. Sometimes, "serving all" requires the Chaplain Service to look beyond which they are able to provide on the base.
Being stationed in a foreign country can present challenges both logistically and linguistically for the expeditionary Chapel Staff not always encountered stateside.
Recently, the Chapel Staff worked closely with Force Protection, the Wing Leadership, and a local Synagogue to arrange for Jewish personnel to take part in a Passover service. Kosher Meals Ready to Eat were also ordered by the dining facility to accommodate Jewish dietary restrictions.
"I really appreciate that the Chapel Staff and the Services Squadron did so much to help me experience the Passover holiday in the fullest extent possible," said Airman 1st Class Rochel Leah Goldblatt, 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.
One of the most important services chaplains provide is counseling. A benefit of coming to the chaplains for counseling is chaplains have absolute confidentiality.
"I have seen countless times that in order for people to function at a higher than normal state that they must learn to perform wholly at spiritual, emotional and physical levels," said Chaplain (Capt.) Sean Randall. "I teach that people are physically and spiritually what they eat and they are emotionally what eats them."
"The Chaplain Service exists to provide an atmosphere for the continually developing person," said Chaplain Randall.
Whether it's accommodating religious needs, providing a listening ear, or giving sound advice through counseling, the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Service is here for you.