By Julia Simpkins, U.S. Army Chaplain Center and SchoolMarch 24, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- As tensions mount in North Africa and revolutions rock the area, the rest of the world watches with a mix of dread and wonder, hoping for the best for those long-oppressed people of Egypt, Tunisia, Iran and Libya.
To keep training current and relevant, and to illustrate how current affairs can have a great bearing on how unit ministry team members may advise their commander, Chaplain (Maj.) Lane Creamer, Officer Task Analyst, U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, hosted a brown bag luncheon for Chaplain Captain Career Course students and civilian staff at the USACHCS Fox Lab.
"The training was conducted to better prepare chaplains and chaplain assistants to advise their commanders on religion. In particular, we used real world events to ensure chaplains were current with what is taking place in North Africa," Creamer said.
The presentation included a brief history lesson of the North African region, and showed statistics culled from the Pew Research Center to explain the religious thinking of many Egyptian Muslims. Chaplains were asked to consider how they might advise their commanders on the role of religion in light of the current events.
"One of our roles as religious staff advisers is to, '... advise on the impact of religious issues, both within the unit and throughout the area of operations.' That's written into the field manual we follow, FM-1-05.
"We need to be vigilant in our preparedness and understanding so we can provide credible advice to our commanders," Creamer said. "You may be in a situation where a commander on the ground requires your input on the impact of religion in the operating environment."
Creamer said chaplains and chaplain assistants need to educate themselves constantly on current world events, particularly as it relates to religion.
"Most people around the world adhere to some type of religion," he said. According to data archive website Adherents.com, 84 percent of people in the world claim some type of religion.
"This is a key statistic," Creamer said. "A person's religion impacts his or her worldview which therefore influences one's behavior, beliefs, and attitudes. The chaplain and chaplain assistant play a pivotal role in understanding religion and its impact on a unit's mission."
The training lasted 45 minutes, which several participants didn't think was long enough.
"We'll do this again," Creamer said. "My main goal is that they learned something and were stretched in some capacity. Ultimately, we all want to be better advisers to our commanders."