For months now, chaplains, organizations that are responsible for placing chaplains in the military, and prominent religious liberty organizations have warned that forcing the military to normalize homosexual behavior by dismantling the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law will harm religious liberty. Now, the just-released report issued by the entity tasked by the Pentagon to study the effects of repeal confirms that the men and women who fight to preserve America’s religious liberty agree with those warnings. Here’s a few comments by service members quoted in the report: (Note: the report kept the identity of the service member confidential, only identifying the sex of the respondent and whether he or she was a chaplain.)
“Military chaplains who have volunteered to defend the liberties protected in our Constitution shouldn’t be denied those very same liberties. Preventing chaplains from sharing the full counsel of their faith defeats the purpose of the chaplaincy and threatens the free exercise rights of Service members who depend on chaplains.”(female)
“I served in the active military as a Southern Baptist Chaplain for over 9 years including two deployments to Iraq. I believe that allowing openly gay individuals will create problems such as openly gay chaplains which in many instances will destroy chapel congregations on army posts. Many of these congregations view the issue as moral and that is in their mind a sinful lifestyle that in the civilian sector the minister would be subject to dismissal as he would for any other unrepentant immoral behavior. Many of these congregations do not get to choose the chaplain that is assigned to the chapel and so would be forced to leave in order to find the spiritual leadership they desire and need.” (male chaplain)
“Forcing chaplains to deny their faith in order to serve in the Armed Forces is a grave threat to the First Amendment and to the spiritual health of Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who depend on them. If the military is forced to promote homosexual behavior, for the first time in American history there will be open conflict between the virtues taught by chaplains and the moral message delivered by the military.”(female)
“Repealing DADT will impact my religious liberty as a Christian chaplain. The Christian Scriptures make it clear that homosexuality—like fornication and adultery (which are, along with homosexuality, against the UCMJ)—is a sin. All sexual sins inherently break the law of God. If DADT is repealed, then that situation creates an unavoidable conflict with my ability to preach and teach the entirety of the Scriptures with impunity. What is the constitutional basis for the government ever curtailing my freedom of religion?” (male chaplain)
“Key questions to be considered: Will Chaplains be forced to integrate homosexuals into ‘family’ ministry? If so, what impact will this have on families that do not accept homosexuality? Will Chaplains be limited on what they can define as moral? Until the answers to these questions are presented and the resulting impacts clearly defined, DADT should remain in place.” (male)
“There exist potential ramifications for those who refuse couples counseling to gays. Chaplains who refuse to counsel gays on how to better their relationships or refuse to allow ‘married homosexuals’ to attend marriage retreats would be subject to discrimination charges even though to allow such things would directly violate many chaplains’ beliefs. If it then becomes mandatory to open these events to all couples, chaplains would quit offering the retreats. When family wellness is so important, this would do nothing but hurt the majority for the sake of a few.” (male)
Remarkably, while the report was largely based on a written survey that failed to ask a single question about religious liberty concerns (and had many other deficiencies), it admits that one of the primary objections given by the military to the dismantling of the policy is that normalizing homosexual behavior will harm the ability of service members to fully practice their faith. Thus, our men and women in uniform have decided not to let their religious liberty go without a fight. Given that they’re willing to fight for ours, that tenaciousness shouldn’t come as a surprise.
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