Religion in the Armed Services
As executive director of the Christian Embassy, I want to thank you for noting in the Jan. 6 editorial "Questionable Mission" that freedom of religion as guaranteed under the Constitution is "a right of those who occupy the upper rungs of government service as well as those in lower ranks." We at the Christian Embassy agree and want to do all that we can to uphold that right for every member of the armed services.
Contrary to the editorial's implication, though, there is no attempt to establish any kind of religious state, and there is no pressure or coercion to do so. Our role is to help individuals find real and lasting purpose through faith and encouragement. Military people lead exhausting, high-pressure lives, often in harm's way. As human beings, their need for encouragement and faith is natural. The Pentagon chaplain's office reports that many other religious organizations with which it works have shot video footage inside the Pentagon for similar purposes. This is in fact the very nature of freedom of religion.
A 2005 Barna Group poll indicated that about 40 percent of the U.S. population are born-again Christians; I imagine that the military might have a similar percentage. We are simply exercising our own right to religious freedom and working with the Pentagon chaplain in supporting those in the military who have similar beliefs as they serve our country.
This is no different from clergy of any faith serving the faith needs of military personnel.
ROBERT C. VARNEY
Executive Director, Christian Embassy