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ISSN: 2354-8315 (Online)


A Soldier's Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army's Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession? - Abstract
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Article Index
A Soldier's Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army's Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession?
Background & Context
Background & Context continued
The Evolving Culture of Hostility toward Religious Presence and Expression
Evolving Culture of Hostility continued
The Army's Professional Ethic
Army's Professional Ethic continued
The Challenge and Opportunities to the Leader of Faith
Challenge & Opportunities continued
Opportunities for Leaders of Religious Faith
Why Not Just Let Soldiers of Religious Faith Leave the Army?
All Pages

The context for this monograph lies in the trust relationships that American military professions must retain with the society they serve if they are to remain professions. Of course, the alternative without such trust is for the Services simply to revert to the character and behavior of a government occupation, a big bureaucracy like the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Agriculture. But to remain professions, one of the constant challenges the Stewards of the Professions must address is “how different and how separate” they are to be from the society they serve. Stated differently, as the values and mores of American society change, the ethics of its military professions must also evolve, but never so much that such evolution diminishes their military effectiveness—their raison-d’être and the source of the trust relationship in the first place.

As noted in the Foreword, as the values of American society have changed in the past, in most cases, e.g., racial integration, abortion, smoking as a health issue, the service of gays in the military, gender roles, etc., those changes have eventually had a strong influence on the culture of the military professions and, in particular, on the core of those cultures—the Services’ Ethics.

The authors of this monograph argue that another such issue has now arisen and is strongly, and not favorably, influencing military cultures—a culture of hostility toward religion and its correct expressions within the military. Setting aside the role of Chaplains as a separate issue, the focus here is on the role religion may play in the moral character of individual soldiers, especially leaders, and how their personal morality, faith-based or not, is to be integrated with their profession’s ethic so they can serve in all cases “without reservation,” as their oath requires.

The authors assert, with cogent examples, that Service cultures have become increasingly hostile to the correct expressions of religion, perhaps to the point that soldiers of faith are now intimidated into privatizing their beliefs . . . and thus serving hypocritically as someone other than who they really are. If the Services really want leaders “of character” as their doctrines so plainly state, then they must maintain professional cultures that allow, indeed foster, authentic moral character whether faith-based or not, and its development as soldiers volunteer and serve.   The Services can ill afford to lose the irrefutable power of soldiers’ personal moralities as they serve in both peace and in war, providing an additional motivation and resilience to prevail in the arduous tasks and inevitable recoveries inherent in their sacrificial service.

After advancing this hypothesis and viewing it from several perspectives, the authors then move downward in hierarchy to address the service they know best—the U.S. Army—and offer recommendations for both Soldiers and the Stewards of the Army Profession as to the best way to maintain such a professional culture. The intent clearly is to start a discussion within the profession on an issue that the Army, at least, has placed for too long in the “too hard” box.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2014 09:22