Further Chaplain Trouble
Continuing Trouble with Chaplains
I just talked to the IG. Went well.
I was scared shitless. I hate talking to people in situations like that, especially higher-ranking ones. I worry about everything I do or say being taken the wrong way, and my fight-or-flight instinct kicks in. Fortunately, she was understanding and cordial and I relaxed pretty soon. I brought a printout of my 14 points, and she read it in it's entirety. Once she'd been filled in on my position from my written words, I became a lot more confident and what speaking skills I have came out strong. Apparently she's the one who has been telling the chaplains to get in touch with me, and they have been saying that I haven't shown any interest in meeting with them, preferring to keep things in email. I explained to her that I'm more comfortable with email, she explained to me that she's more comfortable with face to face, and we went round and round on that part.
I told her that was all well and good and I definitely appreciated her actions, but that the emails themselves wee objectionable. Moreso then it just being a situation of Christian devotions being sent to non-Christians, the emails, which I've reprinted here and which I forwarded to her in my complaint, put forth very questionable ideas. They say that some religions are right and others are wrong, and that just plain isn't appropriate for something coming from a chaplain. I told her that seeing emails like that, being sent from the chaplain's office, make non-Christians very uncomfortable and it makes us feel like we won't be treated fairly by the chaplain. She said her view on it. She said that the emails come from a subscription service and that the chaplain just forwards them to the base. She's been getting them and likes getting them, but every so often she'll get one that she plain disagrees with. it doesn't bother her though, because she doesn't see it as being the chaplain saying these things. I told her that if it comes from the chaplain's office, without any disclaimers or explanations, then it is very easy for people to perceive that it is the chaplain saying it. When somebody forwards something objectionable, without comment, you don't know whether they agree with it or not. I compared it to somebody sending devotions or emails out based on the Qu'ran or on the handbook for Wiccan deaconry published by the Sacred Well circle. I explained to her that, in the position she is in, she knows that the chaplain is just getting these from a subscription service, but other people in the base might not, and it is a question of perception. We left this point where it was and continued on, but it may strengthen an eventual super-official complaint.
The chaplains should be screening the devotions they send out, and not sending out disagreeable ones, it's that simple. If it happens that just about any email is disagreeable to someone, then they shouldn't be sending devotions out at all. They will have to discredit or apologize for the emails they sent out already, or else I will continue to believe that those emails reflect the official view of the chaplaincy.
That'll be my new point #15
So like I said, I was given two options. Escalate it to the central IG at Shaw AFB with a formal complaint, or attempt to resolve it here with her assistance by talking it out with the chaplains. I agreed to take option two, but with a few conditions. She would be the intermediary between myself and the chaplains, and arrange a face-to-face, and I would be able to bring a friend or two with me. If things aren't resolved to my satisfaction, I take it up the chain to the HQ IG. I have a couple friends in mind. One is my coworker, a Christian who also objects to the content of some of these "devotions", and to the way the chaplaincy has treated me, and he disagrees with prayer at mandatory formations, and he definitely disagrees with the emails that have been sent base-wide. The other is a friend and fellow Wiccan, and she is much more critical of the chaplains and no fan of mandatory prayers either. If I can get them both there with me, all the better. But either one or the other will do nicely. The IG kept a copy of my 14 points, and I'm sure she'll be passing them on to the chaplains, which is fine by me.
So, wish me luck, and I will keep you updated.
Update [2005-8-6 16:33:47 by jabbausaf]:
Found an old email from the lead chaplain. Figured you'd like to read it.
In regards to the daily devotions, the vast majority of people of faith (97.5% of those who have a rel pref) are from some form of Christian background. Even those not of Christian faiths find the devotional thoughts uplifting. I want to honor your desire to not get “mailbox clutter,” but I click delete dozens of times a day for information that I do not have interest in, i.e. bingo. The devotions are from a non-denominational source and help the vast majority with their spiritual development. The difficulties of a selective list make pulling one name a little harder, but we will work on it. Since we are currently in a flux with personnel, and spiritual health is so important here, please click delete or read it for information until we are settled in.
Yeah, I sent that little gem to the IG rep soon as I found it deep within the recesses of my inbox.