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HEARING ON H. R. 1023, A BILL TO ESTABLISH A CHIEF OF CHAP
LAINS OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON NAVAL AFFAIRS,
Washington, D. C., Wednesday, December 15, 1943. The committee met at 10:30 a. m., the Honorable Carl Vinson (chairman), presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The purpose of the hearing this morning is to take up H. R. 1023, a bill introduced by our distinguished colleague from Vermont, Mr. Plumley.
(The bill referred to is as follows:
(H. R. 1023, 78th Cong., 1st Sess.)
A BILL To establish a Chief of Chaplains of the United States Navy
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That one chaplain on the active list in the Corps of Chaplains of rank not below that of lieutenant commander may be appointed br the President and with the advice and consent of the Senate to be Chief of Chaplains of the United States Navy. He shall serve as such for four years, and shall have the rank, pay, and allowance of captain while so serving. His duties shall include investigation into the qualifications of candidates for appointment as acting chaplains and chaplains and general coordination and supervision of the work of chaplains: Provided, That until the termination of the wars in which the United States is now engaged or such earlier date as the Congress by concurrent resolution may fix, the Chief of Chaplains shall be entitled to hold the temporary rank of rear admiral, and shall receive the pay and allowances of a rear admiral of the lower half while serving in such grade.
The CHAIRMAN. I see Mr. Plumley is here this morning. The committee will be glad to have him make a statement, if he so desires.
STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES A PLUMLEY, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF VERMONT
Mr. PLUMLEY. Mr. Chairman, this bill undertakes to provide for the establishment of the office of Chief of Chaplains of the United States Navy. It was introduced by me in the House and by Senator Walsh in the Senate at the request of the heads of the several religious bodies of this country interested particularly in the Army and the Vavy.
The gentlemen, some of whom are present this morning and who will testify at your request and sufferance, convinced us that the best interests of the Navy would be served were this rank conferred temporarily upon some officer of the Navy for the duration.
Now, I agree they are right, and I do not understand why it would have to be necessary to have an act of Congress in order to carry out the wishes of the groups which these gentlemen represent because, in my judgment, this matter could all have been handled by an order
from the Secretary of the Navy designating some officer to act in that capacity for the duration.
Now, I may be wrong as to that, but I have not been so advised, and if it is necessary to have a bill, then here is the bill which is no subterfuge, drawn at my request by the Navy Department and followed by an adverse report thereon.
The ChairMAN. Mr. Plumley, in reference to your statement concerning the Secretary issuing an order creating a rank of admiral in the Chaplains Corps, the law precludes them from being higher than the rank of captain. Therefore, it is necessary to have a statute to permit the rank of admiral to be given to any member of the Chaplains Corps, and carrying out that, you have introduced your bill.
Mr. PLUMLEY. That is right. That is all I have to say. I am in favor of the bill naturally.
Mr. Cole. I would like to ask Mr. Plumley's opinion as to whether he believes it should be possible and whether his bill makes it possible, if enacted, for the Navy to enroll in the Reserves at the rank of lieutenant commander any civilian chaplain and thereafter in a very short period of time promote him to chief of the Corps of Chaplains.
VIr. PLUMLEY. If the bill does not provide it, it should be amended so as to make that possible; but that subject matter was discussed with the Navy at the time that this bill was drawn.
Mr. COLE. Do you think that it should be possible for the Navy to take a civilian minister, after enactment of this bill, enroll him as a Reserve, and automatically move him up to the head of the corps?
Mr. PLUMLEY. I would not do it, but it might be necessary to have it possible in order to meet the demands of the Navy.
Mr. BRADLEY. You would not have any objection if your bill were amended to stipulate that any officer so designated as the chief chaplain with a rank of admiral as specified in the bill, would have to be a regular Navy officer with so many years' service?
Mr. PLUMLEY. If I had my say, I would have that in the bill.
Mr. Maas. Would the gentlemen yield right there? I think the bill covers that, but I would like to ask the Judge Advocate General whether when it says, that one chaplain on the active list in the Corps of Chaplains--would that not mean a member of the Regular Navy?
The CHAIRMAN. That is right. Mr. Maas. That is my understanding of it, so this would not permit the thing that Mr. Cole suggests might happen.
Mr. Plumley. That would be satisfactory to me.
Mr. Cole. When a reservist goes on active duty, is he not on the active list of the Navy?
Captain RAMSEY. Not within the intent of the bill.
Mr. BRADLEY. Within the use of the word “active,” in accordance with Navy custom, does that always mean a regular officer?
Captain RAMSEY. Yes.
STATEMENT OF THE REVEREND .S. ARTHUR DEVAN, D.D., DIRECTOR, GENERAL COMMISSION ON ARMY AND NAVY CHAPLAINS
Reverend DEVAN. I am director of the General Commission on Army and Navy chaplains, the address of which is 1137 Woodward Building in this city.
Mr. BRADLEY. You represent all of the Protestant bodies?
Reverend Devan. This Commission is the organized agency of nearly all the Protestant churches of this country, 29 of them representing about 30,000,000 Protestant churches, and have been representing these churches in the Army, the Navy and the Government since before the World War.
Mr. BRADLEY. In addition to that, insofar as this bill is concerned, you are authorized to speak for all of the Protestant bodies, even though they are not actively members of your commission?
Reverend DEVAN. That is true, sir. There are only two large Protestant groups which do not belong to the commission. One of these is the Lutherans and the other is the Southeastern Baptists. If we had more time, I am quite certain that representatives of these bodies would have been here this morning. They are in complete sympathy and agreement with the purposes of this bill.
If the committee pleases, I would be glad to read the list of these church bodies.
The CHAIRMAN. Make any statement you desire to make with reference to it.
Reverend DEVAN. I think with your permission I would like to read these bodies that are united in this request Treads]:
The Northern Baptists.
The Presbyterian Church, United States, which is the Southern Presbyterians.
The list I have just read are the cooperating organizations.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, those religious organizations have all gotten together and adopted some fixed policy with reference to the appointments of chaplains in the Army and chaplains in the Navy?
Reverend DEVAN. That is so.
The CHAIRMAN. Before a chaplain is designated chaplain for the Army or the Navy, it is necessary, is it not, for it to be approved or recommended by the organization which you head?
Reverend DEVAN. Neither the Army nor the Navy commissions anyone as a chaplain who is not endorsed ecclesiastically by his church, which is done though this General Commission, and we do the recruiting to get them.
The CHAIRMAN. The same thing applies with reference to any designation by the Catholic organizations; that also has to be approved by someone who speaks for that organization?
Reverend DEVAN. The Catholics and the Jews.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, the only complaint that I have received in opposition to this bill is a telegram from Carl McIntyre, president of the American Council of Mission Churches, and J. O. Oliver Boswell, secretary
Is this the American Council of Christian Churches?
Reverend DEVAN. No, sir. There is a small group of churches of the type known as Fundamentalists which did not join with their larger bodies and in some cases seceded from them and formed recently what is known as the American Council of Christian Churches. I do not suppose that it represents more than 1 percent of the Protestant population of the country.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, are you of the opinion that the rank of rear admiral should be conferred upon a chaplain in the Navy?
Reverend DEVAN. We feel that there should be no discrimination against chaplains as compared with other professional men who go into the service. In connection with the efficiency of the service, the recognition that is given to the religious life and its administration should be at least as good as that of the medical profession, dentists, or others.
The CHAIRMAN. I thoroughly agree with you.
Reverend DEVAN. May I say further that these churches which I represent, and of course, also the Catholic churches and the Jewish churches, have in this emergency given some of their best to the chaplaincy. The finest young clergy of the United States have offered themselves for the services.
In the Navy there are, I believe, according to a recent statement, something like 1,750 commissioned chaplains. These men have met high standards. The standards for the Navy chaplain today are higher than those in the Army. Many of these men are very young, but these churches have in many instances hurt their work in civil life to encourage these men and send them into the service in this emergency The churches do not feel, to be very candid about it, that the whole service is getting the break in the Navy that it should have, or that it does get in the Army.
Being perfectly frank, sir, about this situation, those are my ideas
Mr. Bates. Having in mind the fact that the chaplains have been in the danger zone for a long period of time, have there been any casualties among the chaplains?
Reverend DEVAN. I cannot give you the last figures, but there have been a number killed. Two perished on the first day of the war at Pearl Harbor. Several others have since, and others have suffered wounds. I understand that two chaplains--I can be corrected on this if I am wrong—but my understanding is that during the recent invasion of Tarawa there were two chaplains, a Catholic and a Protestant, who were with the first wave of the marines that went ashore there. And everywhere that the men go the representatives of the church are with them. The good that they are doing for the morale and the spirit of the service is simply incalculable, as it is represented again and again by the commanding officers throughout the service.
The Chairman. Why should it be made temporary just during the war? If you are sound in your statement, and I think you are, that this profession should have the same recognition as medicine and dentistry, why should it be temporary? Why should there not be a permanent rank of rear admiral?
Reverend DEVAN. We do not think it should be.
Mr. Mans. If the chairman will yield, the Medical Corps is a corps of the Navy. This is a corps within the Bureau of Naval Personnel. Unless you want to establish a Bureau of Chaplains
The CHAIRMAN. We do not want to do that. As the bill is drafted, it will establish in the Navy Department a Bureau of Chaplains. Now, what have you in mind is having the rank of rear admiral given to some one in the Chaplains' Corps instead of having a bureau established? As the bill is now, it creates a bureau.
Mr. BRADLEY. Mr. Chairman, I do not think so. The bill simply says, “One chaplain on the active list in the Corps of Chaplains, and it does not say anything about a bureau.
The CHAIRMAN. I will ask the Judge Advocate General. Under the language of the bill now, does it not have the effect of creating a bureau in the Chaplains' Corps ?
Mr. BRADLEY. That is not in the language of the bill.
Captain RAMSEY. If there is created a chief of chaplains, he would be independent of the Bureau of Personnel where the officer is now assigned. If he were chief of the chaplains, then he would not be in the same station in the Bureau of Naval Personnel.
Mr. MAAS. Is the Chief of the Dental Corps independent of the Chief of the Medical Corps?
Mr. RIVERS. No.
Mr. BRADLEY. Let us be fair about it and not get this bill enmeshed in a lot of quibbling and technicalities. There is nothing in the language of this bill, which is as simple and as direct as any bill I have ever read that has been passed by Congress, which creates a bureau. There is no way to read into this bill the creation of a bureau. If you can point to any sentence anywhere in the bill, I will appreciate it.
Is it not true that Father Arnold, the Chief of the Army Chaplains, has the rank of Brigadier General, and is that rank permanent or temporary?
Reverend DEVAN. Chaplain Arnold's rank at the present time is temporary.
Mr. BRADLEY. But he is a Brigadier General.
Reverend DEVAN. It has been generally understood that would be made permanent, probably, but as it stands, his is a temporary rank for the emergency. This bill, we understand, very closely follows the