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More on the "Bath for a Baptism" chaplain [Apr. 7th, 2003|10:01 am]
the erosion of American Civil Liberties


[mood |pleasedpleased]

In response to this posting and the uproar about it, I wrote to Dr. David Mullis (dmullis@namb.net), who was listed as the Chaplaincy Associate for Military Chaplaincy by the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board.

From: Cathy Willey [mailto:cathy_willey@hotmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2003 1:06 PM
To: Mullis, Dave
Subject: Military chaplaincy ethics

Dear Dr. Mullis:

I recently read a newspaper article - linked on the web at
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/5554317.htm - describing
Josh Llano, an Army chaplain, offering soldiers baths in a tank of water he
controls, but only if they allow him to baptise them. I write to you because
Llano described himself in the article as a Southern Baptist, and I have
questions about this practice.

Is it theologically sound? My understanding is that for a baptism to be
valid, the one being baptized must be doing it for the purpose of receiving
Jesus into his life, not to get ten minutes in a pool of water.

And is it ethical? My understanding, again, was that a military chaplain is
supposed to minister within his capabilities to all soldiers regardless of
their personal religious beliefs, and to meet the more specific needs of
members of their denominations, rather than coerce soldiers to convert.

I would appreciate your insight into the issue.

Cathy Willey

...and I was pleased to actually get a reply.

From : "Mullis, Dave" <dmullis@namb.net>
To : "Cathy Willey" <cathy_willey@hotmail.com>
Subject : RE: Military chaplaincy ethics
Date : Mon, 7 Apr 2003 08:07:21 -0400

Thank you for your note. I became aware of this article late Friday.

Your concern is well placed and on target. The article does not reflect
Southern Baptist practice. I do not, as of this time, know what
Chaplain Llano told the reporter. But the practiced described is
totally out of line with normal chaplaincy practice as wells as that of
Southern Baptist practice. The practice is neither theologically or
ethically sound nor is it taught or expected as a practice to follow.
David E. Mullis
Military Chaplaincy Associate
North American Mission Board
4200 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022-4176
Phone: 770-410-6368 FAX: 770-410-6023
Email: dmullis@namb.net <mailto:dmullis@namb.net>
Website: www.namb.net/chaplain <http://www.namb.net/chaplain>

The reply didn't mention any action to be taken, but given that I was half expecting something along the lines of "Well, even if it's not theologically valid, it's getting the soldiers to think about Jesus..." I'm pleased. Should I write back asking if the SBC is likely to take any action in the matter, or quit while I'm ahead?

From: wicketgate
2003-04-07 07:11 am (UTC)
That's so cool he got right back to you. You should definitely write back back and see if they are going to take any action. I find the chaplain doing this to be morally bankrupt.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kyburg
2003-04-07 07:12 am (UTC)
Keep his address and ask him more questions when you have him. Sounds like a keeper.

And yes, I'd ask.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: autodidactic
2003-04-07 07:50 am (UTC)

Wow, how cool is that? He actually answered, and very respectfully. Yeah, I'd say ask him, but also thank him for his time. He sounds like one of the Good Guys.

(Reply) (Thread)
From: mcsquare
2003-04-07 08:10 am (UTC)
Good response. I was wondering pretty much the same things as that woman, especially about it really perverting the purpose of baptism to begin with. I'm glad he had such a sensible reply.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: unclejimbo
2003-04-07 08:35 am (UTC)

Most people who are out there truly want to do the work of God. I think this Army Chaplain, Mr. Llano, is angling for a spot on the 700 Club...

Thank you, Chaplain Mullis for being a decent human being first.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: acidsunqueen
2003-04-07 09:15 am (UTC)

Thank you for posting this. I'll try to dash off a note to him later myself.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: inanna
2003-04-07 09:52 am (UTC)
First, this is great that Mr. Mullis didn't outright approve of Mr. Llano's behavior. But, the person to talk to wouldn't be the SBC, they don't have direct control over his behavior, the military does. i am wondering who we should contact within the military structure to have Mr. Llano dealt with appropriately. :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: crwilley
2003-04-07 10:27 am (UTC)
That's what I was looking for when I found the contact for the chaplaincy people. If someone could point me at a military contact, I'll send a note that's more along the lines of 'offended that my tax-funded water has been hijacked for this one chaplain's religious purposes' or something. :)

It does sound like the SBC certifies chaplains - their page listed required qualifications and so forth. So they might be able to withdraw his chaplain certification.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: thbeatnik
2003-04-07 05:58 pm (UTC)
Maybe you could ask Dr. Mullis for his permission to append your correspondence to whatever note you send to the military contact?
That way, you'd be able to show that your concern is backed by SBC standards, and perhaps therefore be more likely to be listened to.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: yonmei
2003-04-08 12:32 am (UTC)
And with or without Dr Mills' permission, you could certainly mention that you'd been in touch with him and he'd confirmed that this was not good Southern Baptist practice.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: spiderfarmer
2003-04-07 02:42 pm (UTC)

U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School

(Reply) (Thread)
From: yonmei
2003-04-08 02:55 pm (UTC)
Heh. Josh Llano has made it onto Democratic Underground as one of this week's Top 10. He should be so proud!
(Reply) (Thread)