Army Chaplain Scott Squires May be Sanctioned over Strong Bonds, Same Sex Troops
In what seems to be second case of Equal Opportunity offices gone wild, another US military EO office has determined that a Christian military officer is guilty of discrimination — and should be reprimanded — because of his religious beliefs about sexuality.
US Army Chaplain Scott Squires was apparently tasked to host a Strong Bonds marriage retreat — and a homosexual couple signed up. Chaplain Squires is a Southern Baptist, and his ecclesiastical endorser has said Southern Baptist chaplains can’t perform ministry that might appear to condone sexual sin. (This would be equally true for any Catholic or Muslim chaplain.) Thus, Chaplain Squires rescheduled the Strong Bonds event to a weekend in which another chaplain — one whose faith group would support a homosexual “marriage” — could host the event.
That wasn’t good enough. The Soldier complained to EO — and the EO office said the chaplain should be reprimanded [emphasis added]:
The Army EO policy states that no service will be denied to any member of the Armed Service regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation,” read a report from the investigator. “CH Squires should be reprimanded for his failure to include (name deleted) in the initial Strong Bonds Retreat.”…
Even more disturbing, the investigator found the chaplain had also committed discrimination by simply explaining his religious beliefs to the offended soldier.
Mike Berry, representing Chaplain Squires for First Liberty, spoke to Todd Starnes and explained that conclusion by the EO office violates the military’s own regulations. The DoD requires chaplains to follow the tenets of their sending endorsers. Army regulations and federal law explicitly protect chaplains from being required to perform services counter to their religious beliefs. For example, AR165-1 (PDF) says
Chaplains also remain fully accountable to the code of ethics and ecclesiastical standards of their endorsing faith group. In some instances, this may restrict Chaplain participation in a command event, but it does not relieve the Chaplain from providing for adequate religious support to accomplish the mission.
Further, in 2013 the US Army explicitly addressed this very issue, stating (PDF)
In the event that a chaplain cannot perform the Strong Bonds event for same-sex couples due to denominational parameters, the chaplain should coordinate with another chaplain or qualified individual who is conducting a Strong Bonds event that would include same-sex couples.
Nearly 5 years ago, the Army went through this exact scenario — and supported precisely what Chaplain Squires did in this instance. So why is the EO office suddenly now demanding the Army violate its own policies and regulations? Why is a local EO office declaring Army policy worthy of reprimand?
Chaplain Squires has apparently not yet been sanctioned, and may yet not be, as the EO office only makes recommendations to the chain of command. While leadership may prevail, it is mind boggling that yet another Equal Opportunity office has not only interpreted military regulations incorrectly, but has actually recommended violating regulations — apparently because of the perceived elevation of sexuality over religious belief.
Note, too, that in neither this case nor in that of Col Leland Bohannon was a homosexual actually the victim of discrimination. Rather, in both cases the Christian officer went out of his way to accommodate the homosexual troop. Reasonable accommodations have been taken to protect the rights of religious troops while still allowing equal opportunity for homosexual troops.
The LGBT community has for years been attacking Christian troops and chaplains. For example, in 2014 they claimed the presence of non-affirming Southern Baptist chaplain effectively “cut off” homosexuals from Strong Bonds. This incident was precisely the opposite of that — and yet homosexuals are still out to crucify the chaplain. (The vitriol and prejudice behind these attacks is part of the reason the Army reportedly considered ending Strong Bonds altogether last year.)
These aren’t examples of homosexual troops seeking redress for a wrong. Rather, these homosexuals are seeking to punish their fellow troops for having non-supportive views on their sexual preference — and it seems a few Equal Opportunity offices are enabling them.
These EO offices clearly need to be retrained. EO offices are supposed to collaborate with chaplains (among other subject matter experts), yet it is inconceivable that these two EO offices both found US troops’ protected religious liberties violative of EO policies with the concurrence of their base chaplain. If retraining cannot solve this problem — if the bias is inherent or systemic — the members of these EO offices may need to be dismissed.
The final concern, of course, is the members who filed the original complaints. They, too, need to be educated about their error. People can be wrong, and that’s ok. But if these troops filed these complaints out of bigotry and prejudice, then they, too, need sanctioned or dismissed.
If the military doesn’t stem the flow of these prejudicial complaints, they will continue and even multiply — as will the hate-filled culture from which they come. Even if they are not substantiated, the complaints themselves will serve as the tool to stigmatize, ostracize, and threaten the victims who would dare to act in accordance with their religious faith — actions protected by military policies and the law. The damage this does to the military culture — which purports to value freedom and religious liberty — may be severe.
When DADT was repealed, the homosexual community claimed complaints and accusations like this would never happen. Predictions like this were manufactured fears, they said; the LGBT community just wanted to be “free to be.”
Either they lied, or they were too blind to see the logical outcome of the very progressive culture changes they demanded.
Moral conservatives, meanwhile, have been proven correct. (In 2012, just after repeal, this very conflict with Strong Bonds was predicted by both sides of the debate.) “Sexual rights” are being used as a bludgeon against religious liberty, just as was predicted.
Will those attacks succeed?
Time — and leadership — will tell.