Religious groups in Canada are asking the minister of National Defense to reject an advisory panel’s recommendation for “redefining” military chaplaincy.
The panel has recommended that the military should not hire any chaplains who believe that people should be converted to Christianity or who believe that men should be the sole leaders in the church.
“The Defense Team … cannot justify hiring representatives of organizations who marginalize certain people or categorically refuse them a position of leadership,” the report said. “These faiths’ dogmas and practices conflict with the commitment of the Defense Team to value equality and inclusivity at every level of the workplace.”
While this was not the panel’s actual task when they were assembled in December of 2020 it was to identify policies that enable systematic racism or discrimination. The panel has also recommended hiring chaplains from every faith except the Abrahamic faiths such as Jews and Christians.
The Canadian military has had a multifaith chaplaincy since 2003. While chaplains are affiliated with specific religions or denominations, they serve the spiritual needs of all military members, regardless of their religion. The military does not track the religious affiliation of its members.
Steve Jones, the national president of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptists and the director of the denomination’s chaplains, said he was “blindsided” by the report’s recommendations. The Fellowship has had military chaplains for decades—its chaplaincy directory lists nine currently—and has a good relationship with the military, he said.
The authors argue that some religious groups just aren’t compatible with the Canadian military’s commitment to diversity, those religious groups are mainly Christians which they believe should be expelled with extreme prejudice.