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Religion in the Ranks

Religion in the Ranks: Belief and Religious Experience in the Canadian Forces

Foreword by Roméo Dallaire
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Religion in the Ranks
    Book Description:

    Examining the changing functions of the official religious leaders in the chaplaincy as well as the place and purpose of religion in the lives of regular military personnel,Religion in the Ranksexplores this question in the context of late modernity and the Canadian secular state.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9504-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Roméo A. Dallaire

    The spiritual interests of soldiers is perhaps a surprising topic to those who view them exclusively as trained combatants, but there is a lively interest in questions of meaning, ethics, and spirituality among Canadian Forces personnel. The rigours and challenges of life in the forces, with its unique pressures, often push personnel to confront questions of purpose, good and evil, and ultimate meaning. In my own experiences in Rwanda, where I faced a darkness beyond comprehension or description, it took religious language to explain my face-to-face encounter with evil. In part this was an attempt to describe behaviours so heinous...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-17)

    From the founding of our nation to the present era, religion in Canada has changed, and continues to change. While, historically, Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Aboriginal peoples have had a tremendous influence in shaping Canadian culture and public policy, today there is a sharp tendency to see religion as a strictly private issue. That is not to say that religion is less important to Canadians – indeed, statistics on religion show otherwise – but rather that the difference is evident in the prominence and recognition afforded to religion in public life.

    The majority of Canadian institutions established through religious enterprise...

  6. 2 A Historical Overview of the CF Chaplaincy
    (pp. 18-69)

    From its inauguration during the First World War to the present, the military chaplaincy has developed from a largely unrecognized group of volunteer personnel to a fully integrated, ecumenical, officially bilingual, formally trained, professional wing of the Canadian Forces. The CF chaplaincy has, in effect, become a bureaucratic, modern, religious institution in its own right. Although volunteer chaplains have served with Canadian soldiers from as early as the Boer War, an official Chaplain Branch was not established until the Second World War.¹

    While the earliest Christian clergy in Canada were Roman Catholic priests who arrived with Jacques Cartier in 1535...

  7. 3 Unusual Officers
    (pp. 70-93)

    Unlike civilian ministers, who work in a local parish where religious participation is completely voluntary, military chaplains must bridge the gap between the modern bureaucratic aims of the military and the personal needs of the individuals who are employed by that institution. They are similar to civilian clergy in that they offer religious services and pastoral care to members of their own denomination. Furthermore, they preside at public commemorative ceremonies, the dedication of ships, the consecration of regimental or squadron colours,¹ ramp ceremonies,² military funerals, and various other formal events. In these things their presence is reminiscent of an earlier...

  8. 4 The Rank and File
    (pp. 94-160)

    While CF chaplains represent formal institutional religion, the majority of those outside the chaplaincy are better described by Robert Fullerʹs label ʹspiritual but not religious.ʹ In fact, if it were not for the aspect of ʹunlimited liabilityʹ that goes with their duties, young military personnel would be much like their civilian peers, who, for the most part, have come out of religious traditions but are not likely to participate in religion. The term ʹunlimited liabilityʹ indicates the inevitable loss of life, whether oneʹs own or anotherʹs, that invariably comes with the ʹprofession of armsʹ that includes military service (DND 2003d,...

  9. 5 Conclusions
    (pp. 161-172)

    Even as participation in traditional religion wanes among military personnel, we find that interest in religion remains significant in the Canadian Forces. As one soldier commented, ʹReligion, faith, and spirituality are still very important for many people. Almost all of us want to believe there issomethingabove us giving purpose and meaning to our lives and experiences – even if we donʹt know what that something is.ʹ

    A study of religion in the Canadian Forces provides three insights of particular relevance to understanding religion in late modernity. First, it demonstrates that religion persists in an individualized, subjectivated, and diffuse...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 173-182)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-198)
  12. Index
    (pp. 199-212)