This is my second July 4th as an Army Chaplain and I admit that I am still getting used to the title and the role. When I arrived at the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course in January of 2021, I didn’t know what was in store. I knew there were statements on pluralism, considerations for minority religious groups, and the nature of service to both my endorser (The United Methodist Church) and the nation, but the rest was a vague mystery. However, as time as begun to move forward, I have begun to see the powerful ministry that lies within the Chaplain Corps.
In my Battalion at Fort Campbell, I have soldiers who are Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, United Methodist, Lutheran, Agnostic, Atheist, Mormon, Orthodox, Muslim, Hindu, Norse Pagan, and many other various faith groups. In the Chaplain Corps, our primary role is to make sure that persons can practice their religious beliefs, even when those beliefs may conflict with our own beliefs. It is not about providing them with mine or any chaplain’s beliefs, but rather guaranteeing their rights under the 1st amendment and U.S. Title 10.
This epitomizes the spirit of July 4th. We are a country that is supposed to respect and care for the diversity of beliefs of our numerous peoples, even when they may conflict with our own. We struggle with many issues at present, and throughout our history, often failing to represent the rights of the religious, ethnic, and other minorities in our midst. Yet the church often speaks for those who have been neglected and forgotten. In doing so, we capture the true spirit of Jesus and of this 4th of July holiday we claim to love. Sharing the gospel is not about making new United Methodists, but instead ensuring that people know they are accepted, cared for, and loved. In this way we can be faithful to God, love our neighbor, and honor the day of freedom that July 4th is supposed to be.
Andrew C. Kjorlaug
Chaplain (CPT) USA
21st Brigade Engineer Battalion (RAK SOLID)
3rd Brigade Combat Team (Rakkasans!)
101st Airborne Division (AIR ASSAULT!)