Chaplains Report on Turmoil, or Lack Thereof, post-DADT Repeal
The Associated Press interviewed a small sampling of chaplains and chaplain endorsers in an apparent attempt to assess the impact of open service by homosexuals following last year’s repeal of the policy best known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
One interesting subject was Chaplain (Col) Timothy Wagoner, a Southern Baptist who attended the recent controversial same-sex union ceremony held in a military chapel to show his “support.”
“As a Southern Baptist, why was I here? I was here to lend support,” Wagoner said. “I was here supporting Airman Umali. I’ve worked with him. He’s a comrade in arms.”
“I’m also supporting Chaplain Reeb,” he said. “She gave a beautiful ceremony.”
That’s an interesting perspective from a chaplain whose denominational beliefs would theoretically object to the immorality of the “beautiful ceremony.” Of course, people often “lend support” to others without condoning their conduct, as they might if they showed up at a criminal trial to “support” the defendant they knew to be in the wrong. Chaplain Wagoner’s comments are unfortunately insufficient to understand his position on the subject, except to say he wouldn’t officiate the ceremony.
Interestingly, while the article headline and other media sites have used similar quotes to promote the “non-event” of DADT repeal, the article is actually filled with chaplains and their endorsers saying what many have: There are many questions and ambiguities that won’t be answered until a policy comes out — or someone crosses a line:
“To say the dust has settled would be premature,” said Air Force Col. Gary Linsky, a Roman Catholic priest who oversees 50 fellow chaplains in the Air Mobility Command…
“There have been no overt difficulties,” [Archbishop Timothy Broglio] said. “It’s more a question of what might occur in the future.”
Frank Clawson, director of military relations for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…remains wary that the military could become increasingly inhospitable to religious conservatives.
“I don’t know if the vote is in yet,” he said. “The pendulum has swung the other way, to where if you do have a faith, you’re almost looked down on.”
Wagoner suggested there were “no hard answers” to some potential dilemmas, such as if a conservative chaplain objected to participating at a marriage retreat that included a same-sex couple…
“Think of it as an experiment,” Wagoner said of the post-repeal era. “It’s evolving.”
The problem is military chaplains and servicemembers are living in that “experiment” right now, complete with its uncertainties and ambiguities. Attempts to eliminate those ambiguities have been met with hostility.
In a bit of possible assumptive bias, the article describes those who have raised warnings this way:
The loudest assertions that conservative chaplains face problems come from outside the active-duty ranks, notably from a coalition of retired chaplains and other religious leaders called the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
The problem with the AP’s distinction is that CARL is made up of chaplain endorsers — the very same people the article previously quoted without qualification. They are no more “outside the active duty ranks” than the other endorsers, yet they are framed as an unrelated external group.
If nothing else, it seems the article demonstrates that a group of interviews can be made to support any headline one can create. Right now, that headline is that DADT repeal has led to “few problems,” and lacks the “turmoil” that “outsiders” predicted.
Also at the Military Times.