“Haven’t you got anything humorous that stays away from waters and valleys and God? I’d like to keep away from the subject of religion altogether if we can.”
The chaplain was apologetic. “I’m sorry, sir, but I’m afraid all the prayers I know are rather somber in tone and make at least some passing reference to God.”
“Then let’s get some new ones.”
In this conversation in Chapter 19, Colonel Cathcart and the chaplain discuss the possibility of saying a group prayer before each mission. Cathcart wants to start saying the prayers because he thinks it will get him mentioned in the Saturday Evening Post; later, he abandons this idea when he hears that the enlisted men will have to be included along with the officers. By asking to exclude religion from the prayers, Cathcart shows that he is interested in religion only as a tool for his own advancement. Actual faith in God has nothing to do with the chaplain’s purpose—at least as far as Cathcart is concerned. Throughout Catch-22, the chaplain struggles to maintain his faith, and he is confronted again and again by men who want to use religion as a tool without understanding the value of real faith.