For the second time, the US Navy has denied the application of Dr. Jason Heap to become a “humanist chaplain” in the sea service. A Navy board had supported his appointment; when word of that decision leaked, members of both the House and Senate wrote the Navy in protest. Those congressmen have now revealed that the Navy has rejected Heap’s application, again.
Heap’s application as been widely opposed by religious liberty groups, largely because humanism isn’t a religion — and the chaplaincy is religious.
On that point, Hemant Mehta, the poorly Read more
Though not officially announced, a few websites and organizations have revealed that the Navy Chaplain Appointment and Retention Eligibility (CARE) Advisory Group has recommended that Jason Heap, an atheist, be appointed a US Navy chaplain. (The official silence may be because CARE’s decision was leaked in violation of Navy policy, which dictates the sessions be “closed” with members forbidden from “discussing deliberations or recommendations”.)
Heap had previously sued the Navy over its denial of his application to become a chaplain. The lawsuit was largely dismissed, though some claims proceeded. One site claimed the suit was subsequently “settled” under unpublicized terms.
Navy regulations say the CARE group is primarily composed of senior chaplains and other senior leaders. CARE ensures the “full spectrum” of professional qualifications is considered when someone applies to be a chaplain. The objective, in context, is to prevent people from becoming chaplains just because they meet the bare minimum requirements.
CARE’s role is to validate Read more
The US Navy Chief of Chaplains, Chaplain (RearAdm) Margaret Kibben was the subject of a lengthy article at the Navy Times which summarized her tenure and her perspectives on the Navy’s chaplain corps. The reporter, Meghann Myers, did an admirable job of trying to craft an unbiased and well-researched article, and she gave Chaplain Kibben an opportunity to comment on two recent controversies involving Navy chaplains: a lawsuit by Jason Heap, as he seeks to become a “humanist chaplain” in the military, and the firing and subsequent exoneration of Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder over alleged comments regarding sexuality.
Regarding Heap, the article notes he and Jason Torpy’s MAAF rely upon the fact around 23% of the US military list “no religious preference” in their religious identification as support for their claim that atheists/humanists require their own chaplain. As has been discussed here several times before, this is a misleading Read more
Update: Via The Religion Clause:
[The] Virginia federal district court ultimately allowed Dr. Heap to move ahead with his Establishment Clause and Equal Protection/ Substantive Due Process challenges to the Navy and Department of Defense’s actions.
However the court dismissed challenges brought under other parts of the 1st Amendment, the No Religious Test clause, and RFRA, dismissed The Humanist Society as a plaintiff for lack of standing and on ripeness grounds, and dismissed claims against the individual defendants.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has had what might be considered a banner year in its legal support of religious liberty, winning more than one case at the Supreme Court. Moreover, what separates the Becket Fund from some other stereotypical religious liberty groups is their willingness to not just speak but also act in defense of all religious liberty.
While they represented a Christian family when the Supreme Court Read more
Jason Heap, a humanist who applied to become a US Navy Chaplain, has filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination over his rejection:
Religion scholar and former youth minister Jason Heap filed suit Wednesday along with the organization backing him, the Humanist Society, alleging that the military unfairly passed him over earlier this year not because he lacked qualifications, but because he doesn’t believe in a traditional religion.
There are a few high hurdles Heap has to overcome. First, he has to prove the Navy “passed him over…because he doesn’t believe…” Remember, the Navy previously said less than 50% of the Chaplain applicants were approved. Heap has to prove that he was rejected because of his non-theistic beliefs, and not for any reason similar to Read more
Update: Jason Torpy, UCC endorser Stephen Boyd, and US Army Major Ryan Jean have announced their intentions to provide a briefing to Congress on the need for a humanist/atheist chaplain. Their announcement repeats the misleading fact that many in the military declare “no religious preference.”
US Rep John Fleming (R-La) again added an amendment to the annual Defense Appropriations bill that would prevent chaplains from being commissioned in the US military if they don’t have a proper endorsing agency. Because non-theists don’t have a religious endorsing agency required by military regulations, his bill has the effect of preventing atheists or humanists from becoming chaplains; Read more
Update: Jason Torpy revived the issue enough to generate a Navy Times article, though it contained no new information. In fact, a Navy official reiterated a point made below — even humanists can’t really put bounds on a definition of “humanism:”
“Humanism’s not a defined term across the country,” the official said. “There’s a group of Jewish Humanists. The Humanist Society was once the Humanist Society of Friends, a Quaker organization.”
The official, referring to Heap, continued: “I don’t know that he represents a religious organization by any accepted definition.”
Tom Carpenter, a former Marine pilot and one of the founders of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy — the homosexual advocacy group that lobbied for the repeal of DADT — has attacked the Navy chaplaincy for not approving the chaplaincy application of Jason Heap, a self-described non-theistic humanist. Tragically, if not predictably, Carpenter seems to base his attack on “evidence” that does not exist [emphasis added]:
…The Navy Chief of Chaplains rejected the application of Jason Heap, a highly qualified chaplain candidate who would have been the first Humanist military chaplain. All the evidence leads invariably to the conclusion this decision was based upon a Constitutionally prohibited “religious test.”
What public evidence is there the Navy rejected the application based on a “religious test?” None whatsoever.
Carpenter implies — repeatedly — the Navy Read more
Jason Torpy, a former Army Captain and atheist leading a one-man crusade to install a humanist chaplain in the US military, has stooped to misrepresentation to support his cause. Again.
After years of misrepresenting military demographics to claim non-theists are a substantial portion of the US military, Torpy has recently started distancing himself from his own claims — not long after a member of Congress pointed out that certain people demanding atheist chaplains
make vastly exaggerated claims about the religious demographics of the military.
Torpy’s modus operandi, however, appears to continue in his other battles.
First, Jason Torpy — who says he is the endorsing agent for Jason Heap, the man attempting to be a humanist chaplain in the US Navy — has repeatedly used selective quotations from Department of Defense regulations to claim the military is required to allow humanist chaplains. Most recently he said [formatting original]: Read more