During the USS Barry Revival we had a chaplain who came onboard just prior to one of our deployments to the Middle East. This chaplain was in a position that was supposed to be filled by a person who had a relationship with God, and was capable of leading others in their relationship with Him as well. However, the evidence of a relationship with Jesus Christ was never revealed in this man. When he first came onboard we went to several of his “Bible studies,” expectantly looking forward to mature spiritual leadership, but he disappointed us by spending the majority of the time during his meetings asking;

“And how does that make you feel?

A Chaplain being lowered onboard the Barry. On most of our deployments we wouldn’t have a chaplain assigned to our ship. They would be flown in on Sundays from a carrier operating in our area. March 1979

A Chaplain being lowered onboard the Barry.
On most of our deployments we wouldn’t have a chaplain
assigned to our ship. They would be flown in on Sundays
from a carrier operating in our area.
March 1979

When we would stop in ports this chaplain would make rounds to the cafes and bars, “taste testing” the various wines and liquors. A number of the sailors, who were not born-again, had serious questions about his drinking, like:

“Why would a man who claimed to be a Christian and a minister sit in bars for hours on end consuming alcohol?”

Many non-Christians believe that Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol, yet what we find today is Christians taking their liberties with alcohol and in the process they cause many seekers and believers to stumble.

“But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.” (1 Cor. 8:12)

That chaplain’s need to visit the bars created a setback in our evangelistic work with some of the young men who were heavily tempted with alcohol. It’s sad that Christians feel they have to promote and publish their liberties, not realizing they are creating a major stumbling block for others.

During the chaplain’s “Bible Studies” there was never a significant spiritual application from God’s word, nor was there any concern for the conversion of sinners. When we saw that this chaplain was nothing more than a secular counselor, a psychotherapist, we quickly went back to conducting our own Bible studies and times of prayer. We were more interested in calling down the power of God for the conversion of sinners than we were in dabbling in the liberal gospel that this chaplain was interested in promoting.

The second ship I was stationed on (USS Canopus AS-34) also had a chaplain. This man’s jokes were typical of sailors (full of sexual connotations). One of my friends cleaned his stateroom every day and told me it was filled with pornography, and the chaplain made no effort to hide his addiction.

USS Canopus (AS-34) The second ship Benteng was stationed on.

USS Canopus (AS-34)
The second ship Chet was stationed on.

My Division Officer onboard the Canopus was by no means a “God-fearing man,” but he did confess that his father was a Baptist minister. This Division Officer had an altercation with the chaplain in the wardroom one day during lunch. What happened was that the chaplain was being his typical self, telling off-color jokes during lunch when my Division Officer happened to be passing through the wardroom at the time. When he heard the chaplain, he stopped, looked at him and said,

Miller, you’re a sorry excuse for a chaplain!”

That chaplain, being several ranks above my Division Officer, attempted to impose his position over my Division Officer, but it was a futile attempt, and the face-to-face standoff got quite heated! The only thing that brought the altercation to and end was when somebody went and got the Captain of the ship, who then took the two of them to his stateroom to deal with the situation privately.

It is sad to see men, women, and churches, claiming to be representing God, while having little to no concern for His Kingdom or its growth.

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