Survey: Military Majority Backs DADT Repeal, Chaplains Protest

Despite General Conway’s prior anecdotal evidence, several news outlets have reported on “leaked” details of the Department of Defense’s study on the repeal of the policy known as “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”  Reportedly, “a majority…would not object” to the service of open homosexuals.

The reports also indicated “some…but not a majority — objected strongly” and “said they would quit the military if the policy changed.”

Notably, whether or not personnel “objected” was not supposed to be the intent of the DoD study.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates repeatedly said the study was to determine how best to implement repeal, not determine whether to repeal.

Meanwhile, the previously reported response of retired Chaplains was revisited in the press, also at several different sites.  A spokesperson for the Defense Department gave the first “official” response to the impact of DADT repeal on Chaplains:

The Department of Defense has not said specifically how it would address any potential conflicts with chaplains stemming from the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said the military would not force chaplains to keep their beliefs silent. “Chaplains are allowed to speak according to the dictates of their faith,” she said.

“With great acumen, chaplains, throughout the Department’s history, have found means wherein they could strike a balance between faith group requirements and Department of Defense needs,” Lainez said. “Members who feel something is inappropriate may always utilize their chain of command, the inspector general or other systems already in place, to address their concerns.”

At this level, then, the military is saying “Chaplains are allowed to speak according to the dictates of their faith,” even if those dictates include opposition to homosexuality.

The next question is obvious:  What about the non-Chaplain members of the military who have those same dictates of faith?


  • Answer: then “the non-Chaplain members who have those same dictates of faith” violate their oath of enlistment: …I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me (except officers, but its wrong), according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

    “So help me God” acknowledges that no stronger commitment exists. “Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord (Matt. 5:33)”.

  • Are you suggesting the DoD will allow Chaplains to “violate their oath,” but not non-Chaplains?

  • watchtower,

    the question is a matter of legality for orders, especially ones that have no yet been issued. Should Congress pass this bill into law, then your answer applies at the individual level.

    JD’s question is how can a law intended to be Constitutional apply differently to different members of the same service? Why should my right to religious expression be different than the rights of a chaplain?

  • I did not say it was fair, however, the Military has already granted Chaplains to perform their duties according to their faith; it has not extended that to the rest of the force. Troops can’t refuse to do something just because of their religious beliefs. Preachers are commissioned officers so they do not swear to obey the President or orders by officers over them anyway. When DADT is repealed and preachers are required to swear to support and defend the Constitution then I’ll submit that should change, but it will be far better to make the Chaplaincy a civilian organization like I’ve said many times before.

    Not sure why preachers need to actually be in the Military proper, its not like they can fly or fight, but I know some want preachers in Iraq and other places around the world and I’m sure we will get a lot of civilian volunteers (maybe contractors too) to help with that.

    The bottomline here is that the Military is non-religious but we make huge exceptions that support religious needs/wants. I’m not saying its all bad, but it does cause a lot of unnecessary consternation.

  • watchtower,

    You are either confused or misinformed. Generally speaking, the rules are the same for Chaplains and non-Chaplains regarding their duties and religion, excepting their status as noncombatants. The commissioning oath taken by Chaplains is the same as that taken by every other officer.

  • JD — I’m obviously not confused or misinformed, I know the officers oath of office is the same for chaplains, but how can they support and defend the constitution if they’re not following the laws of our country…especially whatever laws result from DADTs repeal? I don’t mind if they have different rule sets, but they can’t have it both ways.

    “Generally” means something different in this case. For example, we can’t order preachers to KILL, but we can order everyone to…regardless of their religious beliefs. Most people keep their religious beliefs to themselves and we already know that the Military majority supports the DADT repeal. So, the only real issue is when and where will the Chaplaincy “preach” about their collective disdain for gay persons serving in the Military? I’d say the rest of us will go on about our daily business and I’m sure a lot of Military will defend some of their gay friends too.

    Where I work I’ve already heard a few flight commanders preparing for what they will tell the troops on how to behave in the workplace after repeal. Not to my surprise most of them believe it will be “status quo” for the most part. Ambivalence seems to be par for the course and because they believe in the Military professional everyone will act accordingly. They have even carried the conversation to “what if James asks me out on a date” and that creeps me out? The polite thing to says is “no thank you” or “not my style dude” and I’m sure there could be a few colorful metaphors just because of the “manly-man” machoisms. Facts of life.

    Here’s some questions for you: What do you think will happen when a preacher tells an enlisted troop seeking counsel that he is a big fat sinner and will burn in hell because his gay life style is against gods wishes? What will happen when a born again officer tells an enlisted troop he doesn’t get the top rating on a performance report because he doesn’t like his lifestyle?

  • watchtower,

    hate to break it to you, but wise counsel doesn’t include “you will burn in hell if you act that way.” Salvation is immaterial to works or acts. It is, however, wise counsel in a religious setting to say if someone is not listening to God’s commands.

    An officer who rates performance strats against personal choices is plain wrong, but that goes for choices other than homosexuality as well. Favoritism, while very human, is counter to good conduct. On the other hand, I once advised a troop, (in a leadership position, not personal setting), that casual sex was not wise. I don’t rate that troop, and I don’t know if he heeded my advice, but my professional assessment of him is unchanged – he is still #3 on my shift.

    Why should homosexuality get any special protection as compared to promiscuity, family priorities, car selection, or any number of other personal choices?

  • Dealer —

    Maybe the “you will burn in hell” was a bit was extreme; I’m not really sure what a preacher would actually say anyway, guess I’m just used to hearing more hell-fire and brimstone here in the bible belt. I’m also not sure what you mean by “homosexuality get any special protection” compared to …, I think all we need to do is allows them to be free to be who they are without fear of getting the boot. I know we will need ROE, and how-too’s but I think it will/can work out.

    Agree with your take on advise to the troops in a leadership position, but I’ve experienced otherwise. A professional assesment is a “whole person” concept in the Military but I don’t think we do a very good job at training folks on how to make proper assesments. Recently we had a run on new Lt’s in the Squadrons and everyone assumes they know how to supervise/evaluate and mentor when that is not always the case (except maybe prior enlisted types for example).

    So, if homosexuality shouldn’t get any special protection then I guess the Chaplaincy shouldn’t get (or need) any either, if they are free to practice according to their faith.

  • Watchtower,

    The first principle that should be taught in church is that “God loves you.” I personally can tolerate open homosexuality, even if I don’t prefer it. I however don’t want restrictions on sharing beliefs, except when sharing my beliefs impede on someone else’s rights.

    The difference between homosexual servicemembers and the Chaplains is that the job of Chaplains is to ensure freedom of religion, which including preaching the moral way to live life. The job description of homosexual members does not include changing culture. Generally speaking individuals have the right to change culture, but not at the expense of military effectiveness. MILITARY EFFECTIVENESS is, or should be, the debate.