General Declines to Punish Chaplain Calvert over Transgender Comments
The Army has decided not to punish US Army Chaplain (Maj) Andrew Calvert with a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand, creating the path for his record to be cleared.
In January, Calvert commented on an Army Times Facebook post that discussed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s support for allowing transgenders to serve in the US military. Calvert’s comments – which questioned the mental fitness of transgenders for military service and noted the similarity with believing the earth to be flat in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary – drew criticisms and a formal investigation.
The Army’s 15-6 investigation declared that Chaplain Calvert had committed unlawful discrimination and improper political activity – points that didn’t seem to be supported by the facts. Further, since Chaplain Calvert was clearly expressing his personal and religious views – and not any official view of the Army – it was the Army, not Calvert, that was treading close to violating the law and military policies. As First Liberty Institute stated in an appeal letter published in May:
Taking adverse action against Chaplain Calvert because he expressed his sincerely held religious beliefs and personal views on matters of public concern lacks any basis in law. Moreover, you are hereby notified that issuing a GOMOR against a chaplain in retaliation for his expression of his sincerely held religious beliefs is unconstitutional, and violates DoD and U.S. Army regulations.
First Liberty published a release yesterday indicating the Army had decided not to issue the formal reprimand [emphasis added]:
Chaplain Calvert had been threatened a career-ending formal reprimand due to comments he made from his personal social media account… At the time of his post, Chaplain Calvert’s statements were fully consistent with and supportive of existing DOD policy. Nevertheless, an Army investigator concluded Chaplain Calvert’s religious beliefs violated Army policy and the Army suspended Chaplain Calvert from his duties as chaplain and considered issuing a formal reprimand.
First Liberty successfully appealed the reprimand, likely saving Chaplain Calvert’s career and his reputation.
The favorable outcome for Chaplain Calvert will likely disappoint Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, who, without much elaboration, had “demanded” that Calvert be court-martialed for “his bigoted online maligning of transgender servicemembers”. In a tirade that seemed to borrow phrases and capitalization from an 8 year-old, Weinstein said:
The Army must timely, publicly and aggressively investigate and punish this wretched, Old School bigot-imbecile in order to make an example of him and make it perfectly clear that such seething, divisive hatred will NEVER be tolerated in our nation’s military.
MRFF calls for the United States Army to try Chaplain (Maj.) Andrew Calvert by General Court-Martial.
Weinstein also framed the controversy as a test of the Biden administration’s commitment to Weinstein’s agenda — a test Biden, Austin, and Milley seem to have failed.
Unfortunately, further controversies like those with Chaplain Calvert are increasingly likely to occur as the military “goes woke” and seems to focus on understanding peoples’ social experiences rather than defending the Nation. Just a few days ago Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Mark Milley – once a pariah of the left – became a liberal cause célèbre when he said he wanted to “understand white rage” (“and I’m white!” he said).
General Milley seemed to be defending against criticisms of military reading lists that included tomes on “anti-racism” and critical race theory. His point about being learned and well-read on such topics is valid, but he appeared to legitimize some of those very criticisms when he – as the highest-ranking administrative leader of the US military – seemed to endorse the advocacy of those books. (Tucker Carlson gave an effective criticism of Milley’s impassioned defense.)
Religious freedom has always had a tenuous position within the US military, but it has only rarely evoked widespread calls for the defense of troops’ liberty – even in the face of fairly blatant mistreatment. The growing pushback against CRT and progressive socialism within the US military, however, may yet add fuel to the fire that defends the rights of all US troops to their personal ideologies – both political and religious – whether they be liberal or conservative.
Chaplain Calvert should never have been punished to begin with. He was one of the early victims of a growing ‘cancel culture’ that would attack anyone who would express views contrary to new progressive social “norms” – even if (or perhaps especially if) those views are based on traditional Christian beliefs (and science!).
While private citizens are free to criticize Chaplain Calvert, the US Constitution says the government cannot restrict the religious exercise of its citizens – even if that exercise is contrary to trending social hashtags. Thanks to a vigorous defense by the First Liberty Institute, the Army appears to have backed off Chaplain Calvert this time, though it is likely there will be many more such fights to come.