Monday, June 22, 2009

More Chaplain Trouble

I would personally prefer to go more than a month without the Navy's Chaplain Corps getting a black eye. Last month it was the Lothario from the USS Carl Vinson who was unclear as to his role with female sailors.

Now, we have the incoming Chief of Chaplains that has been foisted upon his on petard for allegedly torpedoing a subordinate in a O-6 selection board after the Commander had filed an equal opportunity complaint against Rear Admiral (LH) Alan Baker. Instead of being advanced to the top Chaplain's position, he'll retire.

I am not privy to the details of what Admiral Baker is alleged to have done but what a shame it is to lose such an officer. I wish him and his family well and thank him for his service to his country and my fellow sailors and marines.

It is sometimes hard to remember that these folks are supposed to be "set apart" and leaders of their faith. A carelessly uttered phrase or misconstrued point may have sealed his fate.

As I researched this topic I learned more about the career of Admiral Baker and my heart sank even lower. He is the first graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy or former Surface Warfare Officer to serve as a Chaplain Corps Flag Officer. He is truly a sailor's chaplain with the best background I can hope for a candidate to lead the Navy's Chaplain Corps. I am greatly disappointed that his talents will not be used for our fleet marines and sailors.

The Chaplain Corps has plenty of other problems like the disproportionately small number of evangelical chaplains when compared to the "high" church. The last thing the Corps needs is more trouble from the brass.

Admiral Baker’s personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, three Meritorious Service Medals, four Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medals (one with Combat “V” device), two Coast Guard Commendation Medals, and two Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He also wears the Officers Surface Warfare device.

Admiral Alan Baker, CHC through his service certainly exemplifies the "No Slack, Fast Attack" spirit. A church somewhere is about to be very lucky.


Anonymous said...

Some of us chaplains have had nothing but respect and admiration for Blues Baker for a LONG time. You are exactly right, some civilian church is going to get one fine minister.
And yes, some of us chaplains agree with you, we'd like to go at least a couple months without some chaplain making the other 900 of us look bad. When it comes to chaplains, it doesn't take much to paint the whole lot of us with a broad brush. Unfair, but hey, it comes with the territory.
Thanks for the post about Blues.

Anonymous said...

Yes! We are getting Blues Baker in Menlo Park Presbyterian Church! Yeah!

Not only chaplains take heat for their faith. All of us Christians do. In San Francisco, where we live, my late husband used to say that the only fair targets for public attack in SF are white Christian men.

Personally, I have found that as a Christian I am held to much higher standard regarding how I live my life, what I say, what I do, how I raise my kids, etc. Non-Christians require us to represent Jesus.

R F Busby said...

You may want to update your post. Far from being "under-represented" in the Navy Chaplain Corps, evangelical (fundamentalists)are now decidedly in the majority. Southern Baptist chaplains alone now number more than all other faith group chaplains combined. Put another way, more than 50% of all Navy Chaplains are endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention. A percentage that far exceeds their percentage in the Navy, and in America overall.

Anonymous said...

Another possible update for your post: "Blues" Baker was typical of the "who you know" style of promotion within the Navy Chaplain Corps. There was even a kind of catch-phrase: "Friend of Blues?" If you were, you'd get ahead; if not, well ...

Ironically, this "Sailor's Chaplain" (doubt it--you don't get to O-6 in the chaplain corps without wanting it above all else) is back at the USNA, at the [irony alert]Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership. His black-mark against an O-5 at the O-6 Staff Selection Board was reported by one of the board members to the O-5 in question. That was the beginning of the end for good ol' Blues.

Still, I concede he might have been a better leader for the Chaplain Corps than the disastrous Mark Tidd and the scarcely better Margaret Kibben.

Chap. W.