Restructuring the United States Navy Chaplain Corps
Harris, Kenneth G.
Henderson, David R.
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The Department of Defense has scarce resources and must continually make decisions on what new programs to fund and what obsolete/unnecessary programs to eliminate or modify. With regard to manpower issues, there are many jobs within the military that could be outsourced or restructured for a financial savings without a reduction in quality. One of these potential jobs is that of the U.S. Navy chaplain. This paper investigates (1) whether or not this function must necessarily be performed by a commissioned officer and (2) whether a substantial savings could be realized to the United States taxpayer without sacrificing any of the rights of religious freedom. Overall, an argument is made for the divestiture of permanent shipboard and most shore-based chaplains. This is done on the basis of economic savings (potentially $69 million/year) and the lack of a demonstrated necessity for religious representation in areas which provide sufficient opportunities for worship. Outsourcing is presented as another avenue to obtain financial savings (potentially $37.5 million/year) due to the demonstrated lack of difference between the duties of military chaplains and civilian clergy. However, outsourcing is shown to be an inferior approach. Additionally, the logic behind the preservation of the Chaplain Corps is explored.