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Military Chaplain Search
Acct. ID: 295193
Notice ID: 13711
Posted: May 24th., 2006
This Notice has been viewed 7296 times
Proclaimed by: Nightschyld
Proclaimed from: Transit Center at Manas, South Dakota
Within the Military Pagan community there has been a desire and hope for a Pagan Chaplain for a very long time. Much like other fights with government agencies this has been met with walls of red tape. I recently heard from one organization that they are extremely close to achieving the goal of a Pagan Chaplain in the Navy. All they need is someone who is willing and able to accept. When the Navy accepts this chaplain it will be just a matter of time before the other branches do as well.
I would like to mention that I am not posting this as an advertisement for any organization. My focus isn't on who supports the new chaplain, just that someone will. I am a Military Pagan and I know how much this means to me. If my education was farther along I'd gladly step up myself.
I'm posting this letter in the hopes that someone, anyone in the Pagan Community will come forward and take up this challenge. Please pay special attention to the last full paragraph. They really are that close.
Please allow me to introduce myself and the Sacred Well Congregation. I am Dr. David Oringderff, one of the founders and executive leaders of the Sacred Well. I am also a retired Army Major, and most of the (English-speaking) leadership of the SWC are either retired military or closely affiliated with the military. I don’t know if you are familiar with the SWC or not. Chances are if you have met some Wiccan airmen who have graduated from BMT in the last couple of years, they will be very familiar with us. We sponsor the BMT Wiccan Faith Group at Lackland and are members of the Wing Chaplains Resource Board. The SWC has been sponsoring military Distinctive Faith Groups for over ten years; we now have some thirty groups across all services all over the world. There is also considerable information on our website (www.sacredwell.org) .
We have also been actively engaged in securing Ecclesiastical Endorsing Agency status since 1998. We have come closer than any other pagan or Wiccan organization; we almost made it with the Navy last year. As you know, what that status will afford us is the right to nominate qualified applicants to serve as chaplains in the US Armed Forces. It has been a long, arduous struggle, and one we will eventually win. We welcome your support. To your specific questions, and a couple of clarifications on one of your points.
First you are absolutely correct in your assumption that there are _no_ accredited pagan or Wiccan seminaries. CHS is the best one of the pagan seminaries out there (personal bias, of course, since I am an adjunct professor there) , and it is an outstanding school. But it is not accredited, and that process is a monumental and expensive undertaking.
You are also partly correct in assuming that the educational requirement is our biggest obstacle. Actually our biggest obstacle is the recent change (2002 interim and 2004 final) to the DoDI requiring that the first nominee presented by a religious organization that is not already an EEA be a nominee without any waiver whatsoever. Long story behind that, but that is where we stand at the moment. We actually have several candidates who meet the educational and experience requirement, but all of them would require a routine waiver of some sort—age, even though EEAs already in status can and do nominate and have accepted applicants with an age waiver. Eyes. Our applicant who made it all the way through the interview and professional review stage with the Navy needed a routine waiver on his eyes. Now if he were enlisting as a submariner, the waiver would be routinely granted, but since the new DoDI required the first applicant to be _without any waiver_ he was disqualified. When we finally attain our EEA status we will nominate this person again, request the waiver, and it will be granted and he will be an outstanding military chaplain.
But back to the education issue. At the moment the only options available to someone of our faith group to meet these requirements are:
1. Go to a traditional seminary and be forced to study a specific religion that he or she does not embrace
2. Go to a traditional or non-traditional accredited school that allows the student to develop his/her own program of study and build it around the educational requirements mandated by DoD. And that is possible. The University of Florida, UC Berkeley, and a number of other traditional schools have such programs now; the Union Institute, Seabrook, and a few other accredited non-traditional institutions have similar programs.
The SWC is at a point in the process of securing our EEA status that all we need is an applicant who meets all of the qualifications _without waiver_. If you know of anyone at all, or if you would be interested in pursing this yourself, please let us know and we will do all we can to help you along the way. (I realize, of course, that you are not of our faith group. But the bottom line is, and you realize this fully, it really doesn’t matter what personal faith a chaplain holds, he is there to be a chaplain and to provide for the spiritual care of every person under his pastoral charge) .
Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Be safe.
David L. Oringderff, PhD & Associates
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