Topical Paper 4
Submitted to Dr. Charlie Davidson, in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the completion of the course,
Theological Perspectives in Military Chaplaincy
Rodney A. Tinsley
February 16, 2013
Describe your understanding of the First Amendment
There has been a long debate about the Constitutionality of paid military chaplains. Is there a legal basis for such or is it a mere supposition? Does the government have a legitimate and legal basis to pay chaplains for their services or is it doing so "just because" and is getting away with it? Could it be legally challenged and done away with? These are the questions. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution is the legal basis of the military chaplaincy. Here is how. The First Amendment states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The amendment is generally viewed as being composed of two separate clauses; the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Each of these clauses is designed to protect those fundamental human rights which are so foundational to the ideals of our nation: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There are many references to the military chaplaincies as legitimate exceptions to the "Establishment Clause" because they provide the right of "free exercise" of religion that is equally guaranteed under the First Amendment. It is this most important point that the chaplaincy clearly provides the military with a constitutional function, the "free exercise" of religion. The legal debate over paid chaplains sits on both clauses of the First Amendment: 1) Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, 2) or prohibiting...