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Universal Chaplain

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Pick a chaplain, any chaplain...

""Five minutes for the Padre," he stated. Some of the boys dropped out of ranks, went over and knelt in front of Migliaccio, and not necessarily those of his creed, either - Moslems, Christians, Gnostics, Jews, whoever wanted a word with him before a drop, he was there."
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This is the expression "There are no atheists in foxholes" taken Up to Eleven. While at war, soldiers will attend any kind of religious service or speak to any kind of chaplain regardless of their actual religion because that service and/or chaplain is the nearest (or only) one available. A variant is when chaplains of different denominations (or different faiths entirely) will work together in time of need.

Sister Trope of Emergency Multifaith Prayer. See also Church of Saint Genericus.


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Examples:

Comic Books

  • One issue of Supreme Power sees agnostic Mark Milton seeking advice from a Catholic priest. The priest give Mark some guidance, though he notes that since Mark isn't a Catholic and isn't particularly penitent, there's only so much he can do.

Film

  • Joyeux Noël, a film about the Christmas Truce of 1914, has a Christian priest holding a Christmas Eve religious service. After some hesitation, a Jewish German officer joins in.
  • During the climax of Independence Day, David's father Julius is leading a prayer from the Torah as the aliens prepare to obliterate Area 51. The former Secretary of Defense walks up to join them, but mentions he isn't Jewish. Julius looks up, remarks "Eh, nobody's perfect", then invites him into the circle.

Literature

  • Fall of Giants, the first book in The Century Trilogy, has a variation; in Aberowen, Wales, after the Battle of the Somme results in massive casualties (with a number of families in town losing family members), the churches (at least temporarily) put their doctrinal differences aside and hold a joint church service. It's worth noting how extraordinary this is, as at the time doctrinal differences between church denominations in this part of Wales was Serious Business.
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  • Page quote is from Starship Troopers: before making a combat jump, everybody is given a chance for prayer with the unit's chaplain, and many of those present take up that offer regardless of what their own faith is.
  • Discworld has soldiers like Nobby Nobbs, who cheerfully adopts the protective amulets of every religion he can think of, and, being Genre Savvy, carries a Holy Text knowing the God will direct any arrows into it rather than him. To make really sure, it's a pulpit "bible" which is three feet long and nine inches thick, which he wears like a breastplate.
  • In the Sector General novel The Genocidal Healer, the protagonist becomes the official chaplain to a hospital serving multiple alien lifeforms with multiple religions, despite himself being an agnostic.

Live-Action Television

  • In M*A*S*H, Catholic chaplain Father Mulcahy has performed Jewish ceremonies (including circumcision and saying kaddish) in the absence of a rabbi. He also takes interest in other religious practices, including various Protestant denominations (although he's apparently intimidated by Southern Baptists) and has even sat in on Buddhist services conducted by local Koreans.

Video Games

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: The computers at the Rifleman Bank Station (in the "Missing Link" DLC) have e-mails from a chaplain who mentions that he not only conducts regular non-denominational services for the Belltower soldiers, but he is also capable of presiding over services for 6 types of Christianity, 3 types of Judaism, 2 types of Hindu, 2 types of Islam, 2 types of Voodoo, 2 types of "Scifi-entology", as well as Rastafarian, Shinto, "Lower South-Side Druidic" Neopaganism, and Ancient Egyptian (!). Either this guy is Crazy-Prepared for the job or, based on his additional comments that he's also up for basketball, boxing, and playing jazz, he might just be really lonely.
  • Fate/Grand Order: In the backstory, Kiara Sesshouin, normally a Buddhist, got a job as a multi-faith therapist in Seraphix, a facility owned by the Chaldea Security Organisation.
  • In Fallout 4, the All Faiths chapel in Diamond City attends to its residents' spiritual needs regardless of their own religious beliefs.
  • The SimCity series goes back and forth with this. Sim City 2000 has Christian churches show up at random in residential areas, while Sim City 4 has a non-denominational "house of worship" as an unlockable reward.
  • SimTower rewards players who earn a 5-star rating with the ability to build a "Nondenominational" cathedral at the very top of your tower.

Webcomics

  • In Schlock Mercenary, the company chaplain, Reverend Theo Forbius, is from an explicitly multidenominational order. On occasion he's even taken the agnostic approach when counseling the mercs.

Real Life

  • After the 1983 Beirut Barracks bombing, Jewish chaplain Arnold Resnicoff worked side by side with Catholic chaplain George Pucciarelli, digging through the rubble and giving aid to those injured. When Resnicoff took off his kippah and used it to wipe the blood off the face of a wounded marine, Pucciarelli cut off a piece of his own uniform and gave it to Resnicoff to make an improvised kippah.
  • When the American troop carrier SS Dorchester was torpedoed and sank in 1943, the four chaplains on board - Jewish, Methodist, Catholic, and Reformed Church - gave up their own life jackets when they found out that there weren't enough for everybody on board, and were last seen praying together.
  • The first Jewish and Hindu chaplains in the U.S. military wore crosses on their uniforms to show that they were chaplains; the former did so because it was feared that the Star of David would be mistaken for a general's star (a generic chaplain insignia featuring a shepherd's crook was later introduced; eventually, an insignia for Jewish chaplains featuring a much-reduced Star of David and two tablets representing the ten commandments was used), and the latter did so because she was initially sponsored by the Presbyterian seminary she was educated at; the crosses were replaced by an Om insignia when her sponsorship changed to a Hindu temple.
  • Most religious buildings on U.S. military bases built since the 1940s are designed to be non-denominational, with no permanently affixed religious symbols or decorations.
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