"Tolerance, Equal Opportunity, Good Will
and Forgiveness for All"
Lesson 2 is concerned with a variety of positive human relations endeavors -- Tolerance, Equal
Opportunity, good will and forgiveness. Though not essentially related, these are areas that every
chaplain has responsibility to promote and foster.
Tolerance is a key word in the Chaplaincy which by nature is unity in diversity. Chaplains are
endorsed by faith groups which represent the varieties of religious experience present among the people
in the United States. Chaplains represent faith groups which in the recent past have been hostile to one
another. As unit chaplains they have the responsibility to perform or provide religious support to all the
faith groups in the Army. Unit Commanders have the responsibility to provide for the free exercise of
religion of all members of the command.
Unless we "tolerate" each other's religion, it is clearly a lost cause. Group cohesiveness, esprit,
and effectiveness cannot survive unless we cultivate a high level of toleration. In earlier times military
units were recruited among homogeneous populations. Unit cohesiveness was easy when every soldier
was from the same town, village, or clan. Differences in religion were small. The units of America's
Army are religiously diverse and becoming more so.
Commanders, chaplains, and chaplain assistants must all work productively in this environment
even though their own faith group may be less tolerant. It is quite possible that there is an Army unit
where the Roman Catholic commander, Muslim chaplain, and Jewish chaplain assistant must work
together to insure that the Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Methodists, Christian Scientists, Mormons,
Jewish, Christian Orthodox, Lutherans, Samoan Christian, Buddhists, and soldiers from other religious
groups too numerous to mention receive religious support.
The words "Equal Opportunity" sometimes conjure up feelings of fear and resentment for many.
Equal Opportunity has often been misunderstood and taken out of context to mean-- "a minority group
member or woman will get a chance before I do." Nothing could be further from the truth. Equal
Opportunity means just what it says: a fair chance for everybody. As a US citizen, you get a chance
whether you're male, female, black, white, oriental, or whatever - as long as you're qualified.