Congressman Collins Backs Fired Navy Chaplain Modder

A variety of media outlets continue to cover the story of Navy Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder, who was removed from his unit after complaints that he made offensive statements in counseling.

At the Daily Signal, Kelsey Harkness notes there are actually two chaplains facing sanction right now. Besides Modder, Army Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn was also punished for telling personal stories involving his faith; his story has faded somewhat from the press, but it is still ongoing.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the only U.S. congressman to also serve as an Air Force Reserve chaplain, believes the military has gone too far in punishing Modder and others like him.

“It’s First Amendment rights for a reason,” Collins told The Daily Signal in an exclusive interview. “Not because you agree with it.”

Rep Collins went further, repeating what others have said: It should not only be reasonable, but expected, to hear a chaplain speak consistent with his faith:

Though Collins contends that chaplains have a responsibility to “self-monitor” their language, the congressman also says that Modder’s beliefs shouldn’t come as a surprise to those seeking his counsel.

“He’s not going to give an atheist perspective if he has a cross on his uniform,” Collins said. “That’s just not going to happen and it shouldn’t be expected to happen.”

An editorial at The Virginian-Pilot noted that Chaplain Modder takes issue with the accusations, and would have intervened had another chaplain done what he himself is accused of doing:

The chaplain is reportedly appalled by the accusations that he pushed conservative Christian views about sexual relations and homosexuality on sailors.

“If he had been aware of another chaplain who was doing the things that he was accused of doing, he would have attempted to correct that chaplain,” his lawyer, Michael Berry, told The Pilot’s Bill Bartel.

The editorial goes on to call on the Navy to make sure Modder wasn’t being set up.

Also at The Virginian-Pilot (repeated at the Stars and Stripes), Bill Bartel said the Navy Chaplain’s office — currently led by Chaplain (RAdm) Margaret Kibben — asked chaplains to “contact her” if they fear reprisal, something they say Modder didn’t do:

Without mentioning Modder, Kibben urged chaplains to contact her if they feel “compelled to act in any way that is contrary to the tenets of your faith or fear reprisal” for sharing their beliefs.

That was in response to Modder, who contacted news outlets and the Liberty Institute after being removed from his job but did not call his higher-ups, according to Kibben’s office.

The article also repeats the assertion that the “offensive” statements were responses to inquiries, not attacks:

Berry, speaking on behalf of his client, said Modder acknowledges meeting with the sailors involved but contends that comments he made about his beliefs were in response to their questions. His comments were not personal attacks, Berry said.

Also at CBN News.