Retired General, Current Chaplain Face off in Congress
As previously noted, the House resolution to allow military chaplains to serve their congregations — rather than ban them from chapels during the congressional impasse — was proposed by Rep Doug Collins (R-Ga). It was passed in a 400-1 vote. The lone opponent: Rep William Enyart (D-Il).
Rep Collins is a current Air Force Reserve chaplain with a rank of Major.
Rep Enyart is a retired Major General in the National Guard.
Explaining his lone dissenting vote, Rep Enyart said
Of course I want chapels open, but what about our military families who have no place to send their children and are forced to buy family essentials off base? Day care centers on military bases are closed. Commissaries on military bases are closed. Military support workers are furloughed.
Rep Enyart seems to have missed a key point, one that is also missed by some who criticize the role of chaplains and religious programs in the US military as expendable benefits. Of commissaries, child care, and chaplains, only one has a nexus with a constitutionally protected human liberty: the role of chaplains is to protect religious liberty.
Rep Enyart further said the bill, which was non-binding, was worthless anyway:
This bill did nothing for the troops. All it does is provide political cover for people who won’t do their jobs…
The result may have indeed been “nothing,” as the Senate declined to take up the bill. Either way, it seems Rep Enyart voted on principle to oppose the bill, even if he agreed (?) with its intent.