Commander Requests to be Relieved over Homosexual Policy

The WorldNetDaily is a right-leaning website that is most often hyperbolic and sensationalist.  It has a few bright spots, but even they can be clouded over by the overhyped presentation.

If one can look past the adjectives, however, they may be accurately reporting the request for relief of an Army Lieutenant Colonel over the recent repeal of the combined policy/law known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

The text of the commander’s letter to his superiors asking that he be relieved of command is included on the site.  It says in part 

I respectfully request to be relieved of Command…prior to new policy implementation subsequent to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” My personal religious beliefs and moral convictions do not permit me to treat homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, compatible with military service, any more than adultery, illicit drug use, or criminal activity.

I believe this lifestyle runs counter to good order and discipline in military units, and I refuse to sacrifice my belief system, protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, in order to fall in line with the command policy that will logically follow.

This new policy will undoubtedly include mandatory sensitivity training as well as same-sex partner inclusion in Family Readiness Group activities and integration into the full spectrum of other military benefits, as well as a whole new category of discrimination standards and investigative procedures. I will not, as a commander, put my signature on a training schedule or other document recognizing or legitimizing any of these things that contradict my personal beliefs.

As already discussed at length on this site, if a person honestly feels their faith is in conflict with policies, then they must act as their conscience dictates.  However, the LtCol’s message seems to be a pre-emptive action in anticipation of a future hypothetical conflict of faith and profession; he does not indicate he is currently experiencing such a moral conflict.  In answering the concerns of those who wondered if they should quit the military if DADT was repealed, it was previously noted that

Resigning from the military over the potential conflict of policies with the Christian faith is not a commendable course of action…Such dramatic recourse should not be taken to avoid what might be a future conflict.  For perspective, consider that Christians are commanded to “go into” the world — they cannot be salt in it if they abandon it in the face of perceived difficulty.

It is possible, though the likelihood is debatable, that some of the things the LtCol mentions could happen, but they should be addressed when they happen.  It does not seem likely that the commander has improved the situation by requesting relief now over potential future issues.

In fact, it would not be surprising to learn his superior’s response might be “noted, we’ll talk again if these things actually happen” (assuming they don’t relieve him for what could be perceived as a grandstanding letter).

To be clear, were the allegations in this letter occurring now, as opposed to hypothetically occuring in the future, the commander would likely have a legitimate claim, and he should absolutely raise those issues with his superiors.  The Working Group acknowledged that religious accommodation might be an appropriate course of action in the face of such a conflict, rather than relief of command.  He, and other Christians, must not compromise their faiths — but it should be an issue of actual, not potential, conflict.

Should you choose to read the WND article, realize it contains some standard WND oversteps.  In one example:

During the transition period that will precede certification, the military plans to require servicemen to attend mandatory training sessions intended to change their attitudes toward homosexuality.

While the implementation plan for repeal does include the recommendation for training courses, there has been no indication of what they will contain.  Given the military’s history on such training, they will likely focus on what can and cannot occur (ie, what is and is not punishable), not on “changing attitudes.”  That said, they, too, remain a future unknown quantity.