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Chaplains

(RNS) Growing up in Kuwait, Asif Balbale thought he wanted to become a chemical engineer. He never imagined enlisting in the U.S. Navy, much less becoming an imam. Balbale got his engineering degree after immigrating to the U.S. at age 21. With jobs hard to come by, he tried to enlist in the Army, but […] Read More

BOSTON (RNS) As waves of demonstrators descended on New York City to protest corporate greed, they were met by typical sounds of raucous youth-led protests: drum beats, police sirens and shouted political slogans. They didn’t expect to hear hymns. Yet protestors rounding the corner of Zuccotti Park encountered dozens of white-robed worshipers singing spirituals and […] Read More

RALEIGH, N.C. (RNS) In the two months since North Carolina’s legislature laid off most of its prison chaplains, Betty Brown, director of prison chaplaincy services, has been crisscrossing the state searching for volunteers who can attend to the religious needs of Native American, Wiccan and Rastafarian prisoners. State legislators had assumed volunteer ministries would jump […] Read More

WASHINGTON (RNS) House lawmakers voted Thursday (July 7) to order the Pentagon to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. In an amendment to a larger Defense Department funding bill, the House voted 248-175 to restrict the Pentagon from granting same-sex couples the same rights […] Read More

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Rev. Patrick Conroy was sworn in Wednesday (May 25) as House chaplain, making him the first Jesuit to hold the position, and the first candidate forced to navigate around the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal. “It’s clear this loyal servant of the faithful is uniquely suited to serve as chaplain of the people’s […] Read More

WASHINGTON (RNS) The nation’s leading advocacy group for victims of clergy sexual abuse is opposing an Oregon Jesuit’s bid to serve as House chaplain, saying he failed to follow up on alleged abuse 25 years ago. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the Rev. Patrick Conroy should have contacted the police […] Read More

WASHINGTON (RNS) A recent Navy memo that would permit military chaplains to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies upon repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy is creating tension amid an already fractious debate. “It is absolutely deplorable,” said the Rev. Billy Baugham, executive director of the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers. “It is […] Read More

(RNS) A Jesuit will be sworn in as the 60th chaplain of the House of Representatives on May 25, when he will become the first member of his order and second consecutive Catholic priest to serve the House. As chaplain, the Rev. Patrick Conroy will be in charge of opening House sessions with prayer, coordinating […] Read More

WASHINGTON (RNS) A long-awaited report on the possible repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay members says the chaplains corps has “some of the most intense and sharpest divergence of views” on the issue. The comprehensive review, issued Tuesday (Nov. 30), concluded that “special attention” should be given to the concerns among the approximately […] Read More

(RNS) A Baptist minister from Oregon who was killed in Afghanistan on Monday (Aug. 30) is the first Army chaplain to die in combat since Vietnam, according to the Army. Capt. Dale Allen Goetz, 43, died in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan’s Arghandab River Valley. He had been in Afghanistan less than a month. Four […] Read More