Major General Douglas Carver: U.S. Army Chaplain
Major General Douglas Carver, retired, served as Chief of Chaplains for the U.S. Army, and as one of the nearly 3,000 military chaplains serving with America’s armed forces all over the world. At the 2012 Alliance Defending Freedom Pastor Academy, General Carver shared the concerns felt by many chaplains over the impact that changing political policies are having on the religious freedom of those who minister God’s Word on military bases and battlefields.
General Carver knows battlefields endanger not only people’s lives, but their souls. He tells of a smiling man who came regularly to chapel services at the Iraqi front, always in civilian clothes. One day, talking with Carver, the man asked, "Do you know what I do?" Carver didn’t.
The man explained that it was his job to vanish into the desert, move invisibly between the lines, locate key enemies, and kill them. "I’ve killed a lot of people," he said. "Can God forgive me?"
Carver helped him pray and find the answer. But some questions, he says, are more problematic. One that chaplains hear often is: "What can I do while I’m in uniform? Do I have to leave my religious beliefs and practices outside the base?" They ask because of increasing "challenges to religious expression," Carver says, among both troops and the chaplain corps itself.
If he could, he says, "I’d require every chaplain to take at least one semester in constitutional law, so that they clearly understand the First Amendment freedom of expression and freedom of exercise of religion—for not only themselves, but the troops that they serve."
Alliance Defending Freedom is on hand to protect those constitutional freedoms for chaplains like Carver—who understands all too well how crucial such protection is. One day, in Iraq, he was asked to lead a service in an extremely dangerous area. Out of nowhere, the man he’d counseled a short time before—the one who’d "killed a lot of people"—appeared and told him, "I’ve got your back, Chaplain. I’m in the shadows, watching. Just preach the Gospel."
For Carver, the memory of that assurance of protection is tightly entwined with something that a wounded soldier once told him: "Thank you, sir, for ensuring that we have chaplains. I couldn’t do what I do without knowing that a man of God is nearby, praying us through."