Congress Debates Military Religious Freedom Post-DADT

As noted at the Baptist Press, a Congressional conference committee is currently attempting to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.  One issue is a change that might allow the military to use funds or facilities for abortions.  Another is whether or not military personnel will be explicitly protected in their moral and religious expressions regarding homosexuality.  The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty has called on Congress to support the House-passed provisions on military religious liberty, while the White House reportedly “strongly object[ed]” to them.

As noted earlier this year, the House passed a provision in the NDAA saying, as summarized by the CRS,

Section 536 requires the Armed Forces to accommodate the moral principles and religious beliefs of service members concerning appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality and that such beliefs may not be used as a basis for any adverse personnel actions.

Critics are on record saying any such protections are unnecessary, because policies already protect troops’ expression and, in the year since repeal, the issue of homosexuality in the US military has been a non-event.

After all, if no military member is being punished for holding or expressing their moral or religious views on homosexuality, the logic goes, why does military policy need to protect them?