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Battlefield Religious Counseling Questioned E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation sent a letter to Defense Secretary Gates yesterday demanding an end to the practice of using chaplains in place of mental health professionals to counsel soldiers suffering Post-Traumatic Stress and other war-related mental and emotional strains. The letter alleges that many are receiving evangelism in lieu of treatment.

For many of our veterans, the severe adverse consequences of being subjected to battlefield Christian proselytizing rather than receiving genuine mental health care have been, to name just a few, broken families, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, and particularly, even suicide. While religious counseling may be helpful to some service members, and should certainly be available to those who specifically seek religious counseling, the widespread use of evangelizing Christian chaplains as a substitute for qualified mental health professionals is preventing many service members from getting the serious medical treatment that they need and deserve...

Improper proselytizing is inappropriate for chaplains regardless of whether the soldier being evangelized is suffering mental health problems. But it's especially troubling if, as suggested here, vulnerable troops requesting medical treatment are receiving religious counseling and instruction they did not seek.