Army Chaplain Office Costs Taxpayers $2.5 Million A Year (March 1996)

A Freedom of Information Act request has brought preliminary figures on the budget of the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Department of the Army.

The “estimated” budget for that office alone for the year 1996 is $2.5 million, according to Chaplain (Col.) Timothy C. Tatum, director of Information, Resource Management and Logistics.

The office space reserved for the Chief of Chaplains’ office and support staff is 6,300 square feet of the Pentagon, accommodating “about 46 people,” Tatum wrote.

“Additional costs that support other chaplain programs are decentralized throughout the Army and we have no visibility of that cost . . . Our office does not have and cannot obtain the information on positions, salaries or benefits for these personnel,” he added.

Although the Pentagon office did not report on the cost of supporting Army chaplains, it did report that there are currently 1,215 U.S. Army chaplains “on active duty”: 1,080 Protestants, 120 Catholics, 7 Jewish, 7 Orthodox and 1 Islamic. Of these, all but 38 are male; and 996 are Caucasian.

Additionally, the Army supports “approximately 600 buildings” as chapels and “Family Life and Religious Education Centers.” These buildings, he noted, are maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers at local installations. No budget on the costs of supporting 600 Army chapels was supplied.

Freethought Today has also sought information under the Freedom of Information Act about the number of chaplaincies supported by the Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines, with no replies yet received. Each of these divisions has a “Chief of Chaplains.”

“With the Religious Right demanding the end of welfare, isn’t it interesting that this ‘welfare’ for the ministry goes unchallenged? Let ministers volunteer their services to the Armed forces–isn’t that what churches are supposed to do? The figure of $2.5 million annually is just the tip of the iceberg for costs for supporting the Army chaplains alone. Imagine the relief to the national debt if federal subsidy of chaplains were ended,” commented Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freethought Today editor.

To Be Continued

Freedom From Religion Foundation