A panel made up of four Canadian veterans is proposing that the National Defence rejects hiring chaplains with certain beliefs.
According to Christianity Today, they argued that some religious groups just aren’t compatible with the Canadian military’s commitment to diversity.
In December 2020 the panel was tasked to look at identifying the policies, practices, and procedures that enable systemic racism and discrimination rather than at chaplaincy within the military. The authors noted, though, how many LGBT people, indigenous people, and women could speak of traumatic religious experiences.
The report specifically identified 13 areas of opportunity in which 43 recommendations are proposed. One of the 13 areas was to 'Redefine Chaplaincy.'
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"The Defence Team … cannot justify hiring representatives of organizations who marginalize certain people or categorically refuse them a position of leadership," says the report. "These faiths’ dogmas and practices conflict with the commitment of the Defence Team to value equality and inclusivity at every level of the workplace."
The report has been commented on by multiple Christian groups. A Christian think tank known as Cardus wrote a letter to the National Defence minister Anita Anand calling these recommendations 'extremely troubling' and 'explicitly prejudiced.'
The Canadian military has had a multifaith chaplaincy since 2003. The panel also recommended hiring more chaplains from non-Abrahamic faiths and a reevaluation of some educational requirements. Chaplains are each connected to one religion but serve the spiritual needs of all military members, regardless of their religion.
The report also said that, "monotheistic faiths are faith groups that are somehow not for inclusion or accommodating or loving, that they’re somehow intolerant and go out of their way to discriminate." This upset Steve Jones, the national president of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptists, as he said it was '"very disappointing."
"The majority of serving chaplains are from faith groups the report deems unacceptable," said the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada in a statement objecting to the recommendations. "Many who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces, like citizens in the general population, are adherents of traditions that would fall within the ambit of this report. The Canadian Armed Forces reflects the diversity of Canadians. Should all who belong to these faith traditions also be excluded from serving in the military in any capacity?"
Marvin Rotrand, national director of the League of Human Rights at B’nai Brith Canada, the country’s oldest independent Jewish organization is also calling for the National Defence minister to clearly, publicly denounce the report’s recommendations.