Army Revises Claims Against Chaplain Squires after Homosexual Complaint
In an unusual step, the Army officer appointed to investigate a complaint against Chaplain (Major) Scott Squires and his assistant SSgt Kacie Griffin wrote a second, revised report released just last week (the original was reportedly issued months ago). The pair were accused of discriminating against a homosexual couple regarding a Strong Bonds marriage retreat to be led by Chaplain Squires.
It appears the new “do over” report was the result of First Liberty’s rebuttal in April, in which attorney and former US Marine JAG Mike Berry tore into the investigator’s reasoning and conclusions. It seems the new report was intended to defend against First Liberty’s legitimate concerns, including, for example, this admission from the investigator quietly placed in the new report [emphasis added]:
In my prior findings and recommendations memorandum, I stated that when CH Squires informed [redacted] of his restriction that this was a violation of EO policy. This was a misstatement of fact and law. It is not a violation of EO policy to state a fact and CH Squires is protected in doing so…
It wasn’t just a “misstatement” — it was a wholly incorrect accusation of a basic, fundamental underpinning of the entire event. If such a simple point of order was concluded incorrectly, what of the more complex issues? That such an elementary “mistake” would be made raised the possibility the investigator himself (or, herself) was motivated by animus — one so strong he was willing to find wrongdoing in not just benign behavior, but in protected behavior.
Despite the investigator’s brief mea culpa, the report goes on to essentially fault both Chaplain Squires and SSgt Griffin for intentionally trying to deny the homosexual couple the opportunity to attend the event. The “evidence” for that motivation is scant and circumstantial, and it strains credulity, requiring both a cynical and biased view of fairly common human behavior.
It also requires, again, the inclusion of irrelevant and protected information. To wit [emphasis added]:
I find that there is a preponderance of evidence to substantiate that in late September 2017, [redacted, SSgt Griffin] told [redacted, one of the homosexual couple] that she disagreed with her lifestyle.
The context of that statement was a personal — not professional — conversation. Not unlike Chaplain Squires’ statement, it is a protected statement consistent with her religious beliefs. In no world, and in no US military service, is such a statement wrong or actionable.
Why is it being used against her? The IO’s baffling logic appears to be that SSgt Griffin is a Christian — thus she was, ipso facto, motivated to mistreat the homosexual couple.
How in the world could Chaplain Squires and SSgt Griffin’s actions be viewed with such hostility?
A few people have a suspicion, based on this statement from the IO, couched in an apparent effort to delegimitize Chaplain Squires’ religious liberty defense [emphasis added]:
a…CH Squires is protected by the ‘shield’ of the 1st Amendment from being compelled to act in violation of his religious rules and beliefs.
b. However, the ‘shield’ that is afforded CH Squires does not permit CH Squires, or any Soldier, to use the ‘shield’ as a ‘sword’ to cut off the rights of another.
First of all, the IO never makes a case that the pair “cut off the rights” of anyone. Further, that unique wording caught some attention [emphasis added]:
Even more peculiar is the language used by the Army investigator — specifically the use of the words shield and sword.
In 2015 People For the American Way published an article titled, “Religious Liberty: Shield or Sword.”
And in 2016 the former interim director of the Secular Coalition for America co-authored an article titled, “Religious Liberty is a Shield and Not a Sword.”
“There is a substantial likelihood that (the investigator) manifests an impermissible hostility towards religion – conservative Christianity in particular, perhaps – that has no place in the United States Army,” Berry said.
In case you’re wondering, PFAW and SCA aren’t exactly friendly to religious liberty, particularly when it comes to Christianity.
The investigator may have done himself in by the extreme lengths to which he went to try to justify his conclusion that Chaplain Squires and SSgt Griffin were actively acting with malice and hostility toward a homosexual couple. The jaundiced, almost vengeful tone of some of the “conclusions” are nearly inexplicable apart from the author’s apparent antipathy toward religious liberty and the religious beliefs at the heart of the issue.
It seems, too, that the IO wanted to expand his influence, based on an inflated sense of his own importance [emphasis added]:
I recommend that you forward the findings and recommendations…for the purposes of training for all chaplains and chaplain assistance [sic] within [the command]… I recommend you forward [this] to the Chaplain Corps, [Department of the Army], to ensure that the ‘shield’ ensuring rights are not infringed upon does not become a ‘sword’ to violated [sic] the protected rights of another.
The Army is probably going to have to do a bit more thoughtful policy making — and grammar checking — before it takes one IO’s idea on how to “solve” the conflicts between constitutionally-protected religious liberty and post-modern sexual “freedom.” But thanks for your input.
Regrettably, this newly-released report apparently gained nothing from the public — or congressional — response to the first, and it lacks the thoughtful consideration of the complicated and sometimes competing nature of the rights and liberties in this case. The report tries to solve society’s struggle between religion and sexuality with the oversimplified declaration that failure to respond fast enough and be supportive enough of homosexuality is demonstratively discriminatory conduct toward homosexuals. It simply isn’t so — unless one is biased already.
In that regard, the investigator may need to be investigated for illogically calling for punitive actions against two fellow Soldiers whose conduct was consistent with US Army policies and the US Constitution.
But demonstrated hostility and mistreatment of religious US troops fails to warrant any investigation, it seems, while some immediately jump when a homosexual files a complaint. This, it would seem, is the new social order, where sex trumps religion.