House Committee to Debate Troops Religious Expression

Update: The committee passed the religious freedom legislation as amendments to the NDAA.  The legislation has the support of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

The House Armed Services Committee is going to debate the Military Religious Freedom Act, which the Air Force Times says US Rep Todd Akin (R-Mo) will let troops and chaplains “openly oppose gays.”

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., is specifically aiming to protect religious freedom by allowing service members and chaplains to openly oppose gay and lesbian lifestyles and the presence of gay people in the ranks.

In a statement, Akin said the amendment is a response to the 2011 repeal of military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. 

The law would require the DoD to accommodate troops’ religious expression “concerning the appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality.”

A few websites have reported on the “backlash” chaplains have experienced since the repeal of DADT, as reported by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty:

The Alliance said that one chaplain was threatened with early retirement and moved to a new assignment after forwarding an email to subordinates containing reflections on the DADT policy. Another chaplain told the Alliance he was stripped of his authority over a military base chapel for refusing to open it to same-sex marriage services.

Some have made a pointed reference to then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen saying military members who disagreed with the repeal of DADT should get out (“vote with their feet“).  That statement is contrary with the military’s otherwise stated policies that troops are free to continue to in their religious beliefs, and the military is not going to try to change those beliefs or change the way its troops are treated as a result of those beliefs.