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SWOT analysis of Military Chaplaincy

Research on military chaplaincy. Your research will include what military chaplaincy life is all about. A
total of 7 sources are required.
Write 4 pages excluding the front page of new content for your essay paper. This paper should follow the
current Turabian edition for formatting as all assignments have done in this course. This final section of
your paper should analyze your chaplaincy discipline that you focused on in your paper which is military
chaplaincy. Specifically you should analyze the Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Threats
facing a chaplain in this ministry area. This assignment is designed to give you a clear perspective of a
particular chaplaincy discipline and its suitability for you.

SWOT analysis of Military Chaplaincy

The position of Chaplain in the military is one that has undergone a series of metamorphoses
since it was first conceptualized in 27BC in Imperial Rome (Bergen, 2004). While the term
chaplain often refers to a Christian member of the clergy who serves as a minister while he or
she is embedded in a unit such as an army contingent, it has its roots in Pagan practices whereby
the ruling class believed that military success can only be achieved if the fighters were at pace
with the gods. This theme has been the underlying factor throughout the ages but the specifics of
what chaplains do in the military have been changing over time (Abercrombie et al, 1977;
Bachrach, 75). The nature of the work of a chaplain mean that those who are charged with the
responsibility of carrying out this job are exposed to opportunities and challenges that are
different to ministers who are engaged in conventional ministry in specific churches or similar
institutions. For a better understanding of these, it is essential to carry out a SWOT analysis of
Military Chaplaincy.
Strengths of Military Chaplaincy
One of the strengths of military chaplaincy is the fact that the position of the Chaplain is almost
as old as that of other ranks within the military. This means that there is always room of a

Chaplain who will be ministering to the soldiers and other employees of the military during
battle as well as when they are within the barracks. Something that endears many members of the
military to Chaplains is the fact that their work is carried out in an environment with an open-
door policy whereby attendees are not obliged to divulge details about their spiritual lives and
beliefs. On the occasions when they do they are guaranteed of the information being kept
discrete by Chaplains.
The historical association of the chaplain with the military means that nearly all governments
will create provisions within its military spending budget to cater for the needs and objectives of
this office. Other than financial support for this office by the authorities, logistical support is also
given for the duties of the chaplains. Within the barracks or other military bases where soldiers
reside there is usually a specific space provided for the work of a Chaplain. This includes a
physical office and also a meeting hall that may be a church building or any other available
space. At the same time there are usually specific time slots allocated to the activities that are
carried out during ministry and these include worship sessions, sermons and also the
administration of sacraments.
Given that military personnel who are accommodated within barracks tend to live with their
families, Military Chaplaincy offers those who hold this office a chance to minister to the
soldiers’ next of kin. This opportunity tends to be most prevalent during times when military
personnel are sent on missions away from home for extended periods. The family members who
are left at home tend to be very vulnerable during these times and this creates an opportunity for
Chaplains to do their work.

Another opportunity that is ever-present in the work environment of a military chaplain is the
opportunity to minister to military personnel who are in combat or those who have experienced
the same. People who go to war get to see a lot of misery, evil, death and pain. Such experiences
weigh heavily on one’s spiritual component and it essential that they have an outlet to vent out
their frustrations, worries while they gain insights and encouragement to keep them going. The
act of killing for instance is something that everyone grows up knowing is the highest forms of
evil. Being compelled to do it as a duty to one’s country is something soldiers are expected to do
and this at times leads to a lot of moral conflicts which can be resolved through a chaplain’s
Weaknesses of Chaplaincy in the Military
The challenges of chaplains in the military mainly result from the fact that this institution take in
individuals from diverse religious backgrounds and beliefs. The problem associated with this
diversity manifests itself in two main ways. On one hand the problem may be seen in the military
having soldiers who profess religions that are completely different from that of the Chaplain. At
times the denomination that the individual congregants belong to is different from that of the
Chaplain. This weakens the office of the Chaplain since these differences limit the duties that the
Chaplain can carry out when he is ministering to the military personnel. If the chaplain comes
from a Catholic church for instance it will be difficult for him to effectively cater for the needs of
an individual from the Seventh Day Adventist group. At times the doctrines held by the different
respective groups are different even to the point of being contentious (Goodstein, 2004).
The other way that diverse beliefs being held by the soldiers weakens the position of the
Chaplains is when the spiritual and moral positions taken by potential congregants essentially

makes them take up a position hostile to anything associated with organized religion. One
example is Atheism which is gradually gaining popularity across the globe (Seiple, 49). It
therefore becomes inevitable for some of these individuals to make their way into the military.
Other issues similar to these are incidences where people take sides such as pro- LGBT (Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual and Trans-Gender) and pro-choice. These are issues condemned by the
mainstream religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism which are the main sources for
Chaplains in the military (Barish, 1962).
Threats to Chaplaincy in the Military
The biggest threat to Chaplaincy in the Military is the increasing complexity of needs being
exhibited by those who are employed by the military. The Chaplain’s main role has always been
to provide the soldiers with moral support backed by religious teachings. It is argued by many
that what soldiers really need is psycho-social support. The latter is better carried out by
professionally trained counselors who provide one on one support to the soldiers as well as their
families. Unlike ministerial/ pastoral activities which are largely faith-based, psycho-social
initiatives are supported by empirical scientific research studies and this makes it more
compelling to introduce more counselors to the forces thus reducing the need for Chaplains.
Another threat to Chaplaincy in the military is manifested in the question about the
constitutionality of this office (Sutherland, 21). In the United States and other countries where
chaplains are part of the army, questions have been raised about the legitimacy of this office in
light of the fact that the constitution clearly separates church and state. Having chaplains on the
government payroll is deemed as something unfair to those who hold views different from the
chaplains (Wilkinson, 250).

Abercrombie, Clarence L., and Bruce M. Russett. The military chaplain. Sage Publications,
Bachrach, D. S. (2004). The Medieval Military Chaplain and his duties’. The Sword of the Lord:
military chaplains from the first to the twenty-first century, University of Notre Dame Press,
Indiana, 69-88.
Bachrach, D. S. (2004). The Medieval Military Chaplain and his duties’. The Sword of the Lord:
military chaplains from the first to the twenty-first century, University of Notre Dame Press,
Indiana, 69-88.
Barish, L. (Ed.). (1962). Rabbis in uniform: the story of the American Jewish military chaplain.
J. David.
Bergen, D. L. (2004). The Sword of the Lord: military chaplains from the first to the twenty-first
century. Univ of Notre Dame Pr.
Goodstein, Laurie. “Evangelicals are a growing force in the military chaplain corps.” New York
Times 12 (2005).
INTER-RELIGIOUS LIAISON.” The Review of Faith & International Affairs 7, no. 4 (2009):
Sutherland, Arthur E. “The US Constitution and the Military Chaplaincy.” Military Chaplain
(1965): 21.
Wilkinson, Alan. “The Paradox of the Military Chaplain.” Theology 84, no. 700 (1981): 249-257.

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