Group Criticizes “Debunked” Attacks on Military Religious Freedom
People for the American Way, a politically left-wing/liberal organization, recently criticized a Family Research Council email that cited attacks on military religious freedom. PFAW’s complaint was that the stories FRC’s President Tony Perkins cited were, in their words, “easily debunked.”
As evidence, they linked to other online articles that did not debunk FRC’s stories.
For example, PFAW linked to an Americans United article that claimed Army Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn was not, in fact, sanctioned for discussion of his faith. But he indisputably was given paperwork for mentioning his faith, and the AU article doesn’t actually “debunk” the claim — it only criticizes the claim, without detracting from those facts.
PFAW similarly linked to another left-wing site that criticized Navy Chaplain Wes Modder, who was nearly run out of the Navy. The linked article cited the Navy commander’s initial accusations as fact — and neither that site nor PFAW bothered to mention that the Navy ultimately denied the attempt to kick Chaplain Modder out. In oversimplified terms, the complaint was invalidated. The linked article also quoted a civilian lawyer saying chaplains had to get in line with the military’s acceptance of homosexuality or get out — which is his opinion, unsupported by either fact or explicit military policy. Again, they are free to disagree, but they did not debunk the claim.
PFAW then linked to Chris Rodda‘s laughable piece on Monifa Sterling, in which she tried to hand-wave the potential infringement on religious liberty by essentially saying Sterling was a bad Marine anyway. Rodda didn’t debunk anything. Representing Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s badly named religious freedom group, Chris Rodda just essentially said Sterling didn’t deserve religious liberty protections.
The final link from PFAW went to another AU article, this one attempting to “cast doubt” on the claims of now-retired USAF SMSgt Phillip Monk. The AU quotes the Military Times, which quotes the Air Force saying Monk and his then-homosexual/now-transgender commander never discussed religion — but that was never the question. Rather, the complaint was that Monk had received adverse treatment because of his religious views on homosexuality. The articles failed to note that LtCol Elisa Valenzuela — who is still in the Air Force and now says her name is Victor — did have a conversation about homosexuality with her subordinate, that she disagreed with him, and that she had allegedly expressed bigoted views toward religions that didn’t support her homosexuality (the same religious views he held, and the same religious views protected from discrimination by military policy). The report cited by the PFAW and AU article “debunked” Monk’s claims only insomuch as it didn’t actually address them.
Chaplain Lawhorn included references to his faith as one aspect of dealing with suicide — which is entirely acceptable and permissible under military regulations. He was sanctioned for that. That’s not in dispute.
Chaplain Wes Modder answered direct questions in accordance with his faith and endorsing agency — an entirely acceptable and expected response. A Navy commander tried to run him out for that. That’s not in dispute.
US Marine Monifa Sterling had Bible verses on her desk. She was told to remove them, and a court ruled that the Bible verses, because they were Bible verses, could have been “easily…seen as contrary to good order and discipline.” Those facts aren’t in dispute.
SMSgt Monk‘s commander was a transgender superior officer in an Air Force that didn’t even allow her to serve. Her subordinates alleged she’d expressed bigoted views about religious opposition to homosexuality — and then those subordinates were in a position in which their religious views were about to be called on the carpet. That, too, isn’t in dispute. The only thing in dispute — though it shouldn’t be — is whether those views ought to have been protected.
Many groups and individuals have attacked military religious freedom over the years, and one of their lines of attack has been to claim that any time someone claims an issue of religious liberty in the military, they’re lying.
That’s simply not the case.
There have clearly been incidents in which there have been conflicts of religious freedom within the US military. (Chaplain Wes Modder’s case is probably one of the worst, as it seems he was actually set up by homosexual troops who were trying to get him in trouble). Even Air Force leadership was eventually forced to concede there was an issue — after initially trying to brush it off as mere misperception.
Critics may disagree, certainly, but that doesn’t change the facts — facts which have not been “debunked.”
See also the Family Research Council.