This news is several months old, but I had the occasion to read up about it recently in connection with an introductory course on American religions I’m teaching.
A couple sets of questions this story raises for me:
1. What was required, procedurally, for the military to initiate its first Hindu chaplaincy? Did Hindu American communities have to push for this? Did non-Hindus in the military initiate it? Who had to approve it? What would a small minority religion have to do to get this formal recognition–Wiccans, let’s say? Chaplaincies are a kind of limited religious establishment, and I’m intrigued to know how this establishment functions.
2. I was struck by the detail that–if I’m understanding this correctly–Dharm was initially endorsed as a Christian chaplain by the Pentecostal Church of God. If she’d been sponsored by the Episcopal Church, or the United Methodists, I wouldn’t have blinked. I would have thought: Of course, liberal Protestants, pluralist theological tendencies, solicitous toward religious minorities. But the Pentecostal Church of God? That was . . . unexpected. There’s a story there I’d be fascinated to know more about.