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Chaplains have been a part of American military units since the colonial era. Chaplains were appointed to George Washington’s Continental Army and, since the 1790s, have served with the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. Historically, their role has ensured that servicemen and servicewomen are able to follow the tenets of their faith while in uniform. Although there have been legal challenges asserting that the chaplaincy violates the First Amendment establishment clause, federal courts have rejected claims that providing military chaplains is unconstitutional. In the view of the courts, maintaining a chaplaincy allows those in the armed services the Constitutional right to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

Chaplains serve with the army, navy, and air force as commissioned officers. Chaplains assigned by the U.S. Navy serve ...

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