By Chap. (Lt. Col.) Charles R. Cornelisse, 51st Fighter Wing Chaplain
/ Published March 15, 2007
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- I was hoping the title would get your attention.
This is your chaplain speaking (writing actually), not God; I simply represent him, as do all Air Force chaplains. If you're still reading this, thank you. I won't take much of your time, as your time is so valuable, and here at Osan you don't often have enough of it to enjoy as you please.
Yes, God is at the core of who we are and what we do in the chaplain service. More specifically, we provide, and provide for, the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution (we had really great men work out that Constitution didn't we?). Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, was one of the founding principles upon which our nation was built. The way we do that in the Air Force is by offering worship opportunities and other activities where you can practice your faith as you see fit.
That also means that we respect all people of faith and make every effort to afford you an opportunity to exercise your beliefs. Simply put, we help you with your spiritual readiness.
Perhaps you were puzzled by something I wrote above, that we chaplains "provide, and provide for, the free exercise of religion." There is a distinct difference here. What I mean by provide the free exercise of religion is that each chaplain provides the appropriate religious rites according to his or her own beliefs. For instance, the Roman Catholic chaplain provides worship opportunities for those who are Roman Catholic, the Jewish chaplain provides worship for those who are Jewish, and so on. Chaplains also provide for those who are of another faith, or of no exercised faith at all, with pastoral visits, words of encouragement and other types of support. What we will not do is force our beliefs on anyone else; that not only goes against everything the Air Force values, but also against every religion that holds human dignity in high esteem. In this way we honor God and demonstrate the highest respect for you.
We also honor God and support your free exercise of religion by offering counseling. This counseling is confidential in that anything you tell the chaplain stays with that chaplain. This is a huge privilege that you own. Unless you release the chaplain from this confidentiality, he or she is bound to keep it to themselves. So I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity and talk with your chaplain.
This is a stressful time on our base - budget cuts, readiness exercises, an ORI coming up, being away from family and those more familiar aspects in your life all make for a pretty stressful life. Be assured that your chaplains stand ready to assist you on your journey. No issue is too large or too small for us to care; after all, we know who to turn to in times of need - God!
This is your chaplain - keeping you ready to pray today!