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    First Muslim chaplain joins National Guard



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Johnathon Orrell 

    National Guard Bureau

    ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Army National Guard will get its first Muslim chaplain in December 2011.

    1st Lt. Rafael Lantigua of the Texas National Guard is an ecclesiastically endorsed, fully ordained minister, who is finishing the few remaining educational classes required by the Armed Services Chaplain Board.

    “I am humbled for this opportunity to be a role model for other members of my faith throughout the military,” he said.

    As he was growing up, Lantigua was not a Muslim. He decided to convert when he was a teenager, and he attributes that decision to the diversity of his background.

    His mother is an African-American, who is Baptist, and his father is from the Dominican Republic and is Roman Catholic.

    After his parents divorced his mother remarried a Buddhist. “Growing up in such diversity caused me to explore my options,” said Lantigua.

    It was with that diversity in his life that enabled him to embrace the Muslim faith before he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He has continued to be open about his religious beliefs in the hope that he can break down the stigmatism surrounding Muslims since Sept. 11, 2001.

    “I hope that I will be able to encourage more service members of my faith to open up about their religious beliefs, especially with how we are viewed politically,” said Lantigua. “I hope to show my fellow military members that Muslims are not bad people and that we are not all radical Muslim terrorists.”

    Although it took longer for the Guard to get its first Muslim chaplain, Lantigua said the Guard is more than ready for this move.

    “The Guard is ripe for this to take place,” he said. “Muslims have been with us since the formation of this great country. There were Muslims fighting with us during the Revolutionary War.”



    Date Taken: 08.29.2010
    Date Posted: 09.23.2010 09:01
    Story ID: 56828
    Location: ARLINGTON, VA, US 

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