Sept. 16, 2017 - A senior official in the White House tasked with advising President Donald Trump on weapons of mass destruction is an ordained Zen Buddhist chaplain, who long ago reconciled Buddhism's non-violent teachings with his support for aggressive, sometimes violent American foreign policy.
Christopher A. Ford, special assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, who is also a former Navy reserve intelligence officer, a Rhodes scholar and a State Department veteran, was ordained in the Prajna Mountain Order of Soto Zen Buddhism at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico in March 2010. A graduating class photograph in the school's newsletter shows Ford with a dozen of his fellow newly anointed chaplains surrounded by friends and family.
Buddhism has hundreds of millions of adherents worldwide, but its followers only account for an estimated point-seven percent of the American population—and far, far fewer in hawkish foreign policy circles in which Ford said he runs.
"It's like I'm a weird zoo animal," he told The Daily Beast with a laugh during a recent interview. "Like, 'Hey, come over here, check out the Buddhist.'"