Luke Hoare – Faith in the Military
Sargeant: Hello, I’m Richard Sargeant, and this is Faith in Action, a podcast about how faith affects how we live and work today. It’s said that there are no atheists in foxholes, but while everyone wants God on their side in battle, there’s always been an uneasy relationship between earthly force and divine direction. With me to explore the role of faith in the military is Major Luke Hoare of the Army Air Corps, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Luke, there’s a rich history of connection between faith and the military, from medals with crosses on them, to hymns like “Onward, Christian Soldiers”, to priests accompanying troops into battle from the Old Testament onwards. Is faith still relevant in the military, or is it a relic of the past?
Hoare: I think it’s very relevant, and soldiers certainly feel it to be relevant. I think there’s two angles I would look at this. The first is that, as you correctly identified, every single modern professional army has a relationship with religion. I think that’s because of the immediacy of your job means that you are more likely to experience the extremes of life where you also meet religion: births, deaths, funerals, so on and so forth, and those rituals of that which helps as a coping strategy. But I think there’s probably more to it than that. I was thinking this morning, the first person to recognize Jesus [after he had died] was a centurion at the foot of the cross. He said, “Behold, this is the king of the Jews,” and soldiering and religion have a pretty healthy relationship with each other. There’s nothing irreligious or, indeed, immoral about being a soldier, and the best soldiers I know are the most moral. They have a set of values, and a lot of our values come from a rich Christian tradition.
Sargeant: You mentioned Jesus and the centurion, but the Gospels seem to present an ethic of suffering service and non-retaliation… Continue reading