NEWS | Dec. 24, 2019

Freedom of religion aboard USS Bataan

By USS Bataan (LHD 5) Public Affairs

U.S. Marines and Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) have the ability to practice a wide range of religious services while underway, such as: Christian, Latter Day Saints, Jewish, Muslim, and Pagan programs provided by the Chaplains and religious ministry teams.

“We have various groups of people that get together on the Bataan to celebrate their faith,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Mabus, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) chaplain.

Each Marine and Sailor comes from their own unique background, but everyone is provided the opportunity to practice their faith. 

“Every Marine and Sailor raised their right hand and said they will support and defend the constitution,” said Mabus. “We, in the religious ministry team, are making sure we support the right the constitution gives us to worship freely and practice our faith.”

Aboard the Bataan it doesn’t matter if you practice your faith in a church, temple, synagogue or mosque; you’re welcomed.

“What is really cool is that even though we might be hundreds of miles from where we traditionally practice our religions, we are still able to get that same sense of community aboard the Bataan,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Jackson Keeler, assigned to the 26th MEU.

With the various schedules service members have, the chaplains and religious ministry teams go above and beyond to meet everyone’s spiritual needs.

“The Chaplains make sure every Marine and Sailor aboard the Bataan has the opportunity to practice their faith devoutly,” said Cpl. Justin Schamel, radio reconnaissance team member with the 26th MEU. 

Life on ship can be difficult, especially during the holiday season away from home.

“[Spiritual services] give people an outlet, and a chance to find inner peace and a break from everyday life,” said Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn McDonald.

Religious gatherings have the ability to offer a sense of comradery in unfamiliar places.

“Sometimes people feel isolated, alone, or disconnected and that impacts mission readiness,” said Mabus. “Religious services provide one opportunity for people to come out of isolation and find some support in the community.”