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My generation (I graduated high school in 1984) seems to get the biblical teaching about mercy and forgiveness. After all, we willingly forgave Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions in the Oval Office with very few questions asked. But we often miss the fact that Christ also taught observance of the law and justice. For instance, He admonished religious leaders to consider their own sin before stoning the woman caught in the very act of adultery, but instructed the woman to go and sin no more.

Perhaps this inability to balance justice and mercy, as Micah 6:8 instructs, explains the failure of many church-going Christians (at least one survey says “most”) to understand why normalizing homosexual behavior in the military is unwise. But even if we put aside the direct effect this rejection of biblical morality will have on our nation’s moral health, the indirect effects on religious freedom are alarming.

In a series of blogs, ADF attorney Daniel Blomberg is doing an excellent job of pointing out how the repeal of the current so called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law (often referred to as “DADT”) is going to muzzle our military chaplains. Forcing the military to condone homosexual behavior will necessarily restrict religious freedom by limiting the ability of military chaplains to preach and provide counsel to service members about the dangers of this sin.

If you think this restraint on religious freedom will be confined to the military, you’re wrong. We’re already seeing the conflict between the radical homosexual agenda and religious freedom in the civilian context. An April 28, 2010 letter from numerous chaplains opposed to repealing the ban on homosexual behavior in the military catalogues numerous examples: prison chaplains disciplined for not permiting homosexuals to lead their services, religious student groups restricted for not allowing homosexual leaders, businesses fined for not participating in same-sex “marriage” ceremonies, and churches penalized for not making their facilities available for a same-sex relationship commitment ceremony. More importantly, giving ground on DADT will make it extremely difficult to hold the line protecting marriage. Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act will undoubtedly be next.

If we don’t rein in this mad dash for mandated acceptance of homosexual behavior, it’s just a matter of time before government officials come after pastors for disseminating “hate speech,” when all they’re doing is preaching biblical morality. It’s already occurring in Europe and evidence of it heading our way can be seen in Canada.

As Dave Welch recently pointed out in his article, pastors have long had the right and obligation to speak up on things like repeal of DADT. Exercising this right is the best way to avoid a future where protection for it is weakened, or eliminated altogether.

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Author

ADF Senior Counsel - Church Project

Already, veteran chaplains from numerous denominations–including Lutherans, Southern Baptists, and Presbyterians–have spoken out to express their concern that repealing the current law that protects the military from open homosexual behavior will, among other things, harm religious liberty.  Just yesterday, another major voice in the chaplaincy community, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Catholic Church’s Military Diocese, added his voice in defense of the military’s current law.

His argument was made on two grounds: First, repeal cannot be allowed to limit the First Amendment rights and duties of chaplains in their ministry to Service members.  While those who practice homosexual behavior should receive “respect and treatment worthy of their human dignity,” “no restrictions or limitations on the teaching of Catholic morality can be accepted.  First Amendment rights regarding the free exercise of religion must be respected.”  Similarly, “Catholic chaplains must show compassion for persons with a homosexual orientation, but can never condone–even silently–homosexual behavior.”

Second, in what Archbishop Broglio describes as “a more fundamental” issue, repeal would harm the ability of the military to be an effective fighting force.  He reasons–correctly–that morality and “corresponding good moral decisions” are integral to “unit cohesion and the overall morale of troops and effectiveness of the mission.”  Thus, normalizing immoral behavior, like homosexuality, through military policy potentially would have an “enormous and overwhelming” effect on military readiness.  ”Sacrificing the moral beliefs of individuals or their living conditions to respond to merely political considerations is neither just nor prudent, especially for the armed forces at a time of war.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Stay tuned for more news of other religious leaders speaking out against repeal.

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If you’re a military chaplain, active or retired, and are interested in becoming involved in this issue or signing the Chaplains Letter, please contact us with your information.

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ADF Litigation Counsel - Church Project

The battle over whether chaplains’ and Service members’ First Amendment rights to religious liberty will be sacrificed to make room for normalized homosexuality in the military is reaching a critical phase this week.  Despite strong warnings by the Pentagon that a premature rush for repeal should be rejected, the White House and some Congressional leaders are pushing forward with a “compromise” measure that will restrict religious liberty for soldiers in a way that no other federal law affects any other American.  The Senate Armed Services Committee is entering a closed session Wednesday morning to consider whether to sneak repeal of the current prohibition on homosexual behavior in the military into the yearly appropriations bill that funds the Armed Forces.  And the day after that, the House will be trying to do the same in open floor debate.  (An attempt to slide repeal into the appropriations bill while still in the House Armed Services Committee was firmly rejected by Committee Chair Ike Skelton, forcing proponents of repeal into some tricky maneuvering to get it heard on the House floor).

Thankfully, chaplaincy organizations are keeping up the fight.  Many of these organizations, which supply the brave men who make up the chaplaincy corps and provide them official endorsement so they can serve as military chaplains, have released strong statements against repeal.  The organizations that oppose repeal include the North American Mission Board (which is the endorsing organization for the Southern Baptist Convention), the Evangelical Free Church of America, Grace Church International, and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.  While certain political leaders may be willing to saddle the military with this social experiment (while fighting two wars and facing the rising prospect of one in the Korean Peninsula), the veteran chaplains in these organizations who have spent decades counseling soldiers in need are not.  And they’re making their voices heard.

UPDATE 1: Chaplains across the country are speaking up today—and getting published in newspapers that serve large military communities.  Check out Col. Ron Crews’ op-ed in the Fayetteville Observer that was posted just this morning.

UPDATE 2: Veteran chaplains aren’t the only ones speaking out against the rush to repeal: the Chiefs of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines have just issued letters stating that premature repeal would harm the Armed Forces.  And a just-released poll shows that the majority of Americans agree this political push that ignores military input should be stopped.

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If you’re a military chaplain, active or retired, and are interested in becoming involved in this issue or signing the Chaplains Letter, please contact us with your information.

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts or follow us on Facebook to join the conversation. http://www.facebook.com/SpeakUpChurch

Author

ADF Litigation Counsel - Church Project

Last week, 41 veteran chaplains released a letter enumerating the many and serious religious liberty concerns with the Obama Administration’s plans to normalize homosexual behavior in the armed forces.  Almost immediately, a chorus of  critics responded, branding the carefully crafted letter of the chaplains—who have a long and distinguished record of service in the all branches of the armed forces—as “insulting” and “illogical.”

Perhaps such criticisms were made before the critics had taken the time to read the prayerfully considered and carefully researched letter that the chaplains released.  Or the three accompanying personal letters written by a few of the signatories briefly outlining what it said.  More charitably, perhaps the critics simply don’t understand the chaplains’ letter.  Either way, it’s important to ensure no one is misled by the criticisms.

For starters, the letter is not an attempt to protect squeamish Christians from having to deal with people who disagree with them on sexual morality.  That should have been clear just by reading the biographies of the signatories included at the end of the letter.  These are men who have defended American liberties in almost every major modern conflict, from Vietnam to Afghanistan.  They’ve faced sniper’s bullets and terrorist IED’s, so they’re not afraid of ministering to people with whom they disagree.  The chaplains said as much in their letter:

“To clarify, we are not saying that active-duty chaplains who share our beliefs would be unwilling to minister to those who engage in homosexual behavior.  To the contrary, we believe that God loves everyone, that He desires that everyone should hear of and receive the Truth, and that He calls us to speak that Truth.”

The chaplains, and those who share their beliefs, are willing to minister to whoever needs their ministry, including individuals who engage in homosexual conduct.  They’re just not willing to allow political correctness to dictate the terms of their ministry.  Politicizing the military may be acceptable to those who are willing to place their agenda over the First Amendment, but chaplains will not allow the Good News to become a politically-correct gospel.

Second, some have suggested that normalizing homosexual behavior won’t hurt religious liberty because the military hasn’t forced chaplains to accept an official doctrine on moral issues like abortion, spousal abuse, or gambling.  This rejoinder, though, lacks both factual accuracy and logical coherence.  Factually, the military did try to censor chaplains on one side of the abortion debate during the partial-birth abortion battle at the behest of the Clinton administration.  (The letter addressed exactly this troubling bit of history in footnotes 7 and 16.)  And logically, the current push to normalize homosexual behavior will make it a special issue set apart from the concerns like domestic violence in at least two ways. 

First, the military currently agrees with the chaplaincy that domestic abuse is bad; in fact, the Uniform Code of Military Justice outlaws such assault.  But in the case of normalizing homosexual behavior, the military’s moral code will be at direct odds with that of many of its chaplains.  Second, no one is attempting to make domestic abuse a special class of protected behavior against which discrimination is banned.  But as the chaplains point out in the first paragraph of their letter, the current push to repeal the military prohibition on open homosexual conduct will give such conduct the protections enjoyed for race and gender - that is, discriminating on the basis of homosexual behavior will be forbidden.

While proponents of these special protections (and they are many, since the pending legislation in both the House and Senate is well-supported by the Left) may want to hide their harm to religious liberty, the carnage is obvious from how similar laws have been enforced in civil society.  The chaplains made that clear on page 4 of their letter, citing example after example of how such “non-discrimination” laws have been used to attack religious liberty. 

In an attempt to hide the coming danger, Interfaith Alliance suggests that the chaplains’ concerns are overblown because “people can disagree on issues and still serve together.”  But such rosy predictions—which weren’t backed by a shred of evidence—simply ignores the predicament of people like Julea Ward, a top-level graduate student, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund in a lawsuit, who was kicked out of her counseling program at a government school just a month from graduation because her religious beliefs prevented her from affirming homosexual behavior.  Or of Marcia Walden, also represented by ADF, who was fired at the behest of a federal government entity for simply referring a client requesting counsel on a same-sex sexual relationship to another counselor.   Or people like William Akridge, a prison chaplain who was formally reprimanded because he wouldn’t allow an inmate who openly claimed to be “gay” to lead the choir. Or of innumerable other situations where religious liberty has been assaulted in order to protect homosexual conduct. 

And in the context of the military, where discipline is absolutely necessary and dissent is rarely allowed, these types of “government policy versus religious freedom” battles are going to be brutal.  Those who make the “live and let live” argument, then, are either not paying attention or are purposefully hiding the truth.

Of course, that a conflict exists is no surprise to those who are really paying attention on either side of the issue.  As a senior Obama administration official has said, the conflict between religious liberty and homosexual conduct is a “zero sum game” where one side must lose.  (Yes, this is in the letter, too.  Check out footnote 14.  She went on to say that “we should similarly not tolerate private beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity.”) Based on this, it’s a serious question whether this administration prefers homosexual conduct to time-honored First Amendment rights.  Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as obvious as it should be, especially given the administration’s weak record defending religious liberty elsewhere.

If an argument is strong, critics will often reframe the issue as something that can be attacked more easily. Here, that’s what critics of the 41 chaplains have done. And that says a lot about how right the 41 chaplains are.

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This post also appears on townhall.com.

If you’re a military chaplain, active or retired, and are interested in becoming involved in this issue or signing the Chaplains Letter, please contact us with your information.

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts or follow us on Facebook to join the conversation. http://www.facebook.com/SpeakUpChurch

Author

ADF Litigation Counsel - Church Project

As we’ve discussed before, the Obama Administration’s push to normalize homosexuality in the military is a distinct danger to religious liberty in the military.  And today, some of the best possible experts on the subject—retired military chaplains—are raising their voices to draw attention to this concern.

With the support of ADF, a group of 41 chaplains from all branches of the armed forces released a letter that provides a detailed explanation of how repealing the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law would censor chaplains and marginalize Christian soldiers.  Since their letter speaks for itself, I won’t elaborate further on it.  Especially when you could read three different explanations of the letter written by three of the chaplains themselves.

But I will introduce you to the signatories of these letters.  These are men who have given the bulk of their adult lives to serving the spiritual and moral needs of our armed forces.  And many of them continue to serve those needs by preparing and sending young chaplains into the military from a variety of Christian denominations.  Here’s a quick rundown of the signatories:

1)      Combined, the 41 chaplains have put in over one thousand years of service in the armed forces.  Almost every one served for at least two decades; a few almost made it to four decades.

2)      They are a high ranking group, with 2 brigadier generals, 21 colonels (or colonel-equivalents; a Navy captain is the same as a colonel in the other branches; learn more here), 14 lieutenant colonels (or LTC equivalents), and 4 lieutenant commanders (which are the equivalents of majors in the other services).

3)      The majority have served with our troops during armed conflict, ranging from the Vietnam War to the current-day wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Several have earned Bronze Stars for courageous conduct during battle; a couple even earned the Purple Heart (one did so three times!).

a.)  One of them was the first chaplain wounded during the Vietnam War.
b.)  Another earned two Presidential Unit Citations for extraordinary heroism under fire.
c.)  Yet another provided critical chaplaincy support during search-and-rescue operations at the Pentagon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

4)      Almost all of the signatories have attained high levels of responsibility and service within the military.

a.)  A couple served as the leader of the armed forces’ top branch schools for chaplains (like the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School)—that is, they were responsible for training every chaplain entering the military.
b.)  Another served as Assistant Chief of Chaplains—only a step away from the highest chaplaincy position the military can offer.

When a single person with credentials like these speaks up, you listen.  And when over forty of them speak with one voice, we had all better stop and think about what they’re saying.

Before it’s too late.

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If you’re a military chaplain, active or retired, and are interested in becoming involved in this issue or sign the Chaplains Letter, please contact us with your information.

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts or follow us on Facebook to join the conversation. http://www.facebook.com/SpeakUpChurch

Watch as distinguished military chaplains announce opposition to overturning the ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

To understand what’s at stake, download this important information. Learn what’s at risk and how you can specifically pray for religious liberty in the military.

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ADF Litigation Counsel - Church Project

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