Andrew Miller of the Philadelphia Trumpet — a “prophetic” magazine of the Philadelphia Church of God — recently wrote the US military is making it “illegal for Christian chaplains to give Bible-based advice“. While consistently (and unnecessarily) tying his argument to President Obama, Miller cites three specific events:
The military…has made it known that Christian chaplains are expected to enthusiastically endorse homosexual activity in the ranks, regardless of their religious beliefs.
In 2010, Adm. Michael Mullen told a chaplain who opposed the repeal of the military’s ban on openly homosexual service members, “If you cannot get in line, resign your commission.”
Miller also cited the case of US Navy Chaplain Wes Modder, who was “targeted” by a fellow Sailor who tried to get him kicked out over the tenets of his faith.
Finally, he recalls the case of US Army Chaplain (Capt) Joseph Lawhorn: Read more
People for the American Way, a politically left-wing/liberal organization, recently criticized a Family Research Council email that cited attacks on military religious freedom. PFAW’s complaint was that the stories FRC’s President Tony Perkins cited were, in their words, “easily debunked.”
As evidence, they linked to other online articles that did not debunk FRC’s stories.
For example, PFAW linked to an Americans United article that claimed Army Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn was not, in fact, sanctioned for discussion of his faith. But he indisputably was given paperwork for mentioning his faith, and the AU article doesn’t actually “debunk” the claim — it only criticizes the claim, without detracting from those facts.
PFAW similarly linked to another left-wing site that criticized Navy Chaplain Wes Modder, who was nearly run out of the Navy. The linked article cited the Navy commander’s initial accusations as fact — and neither that site nor PFAW bothered to mention that the Navy ultimately denied the attempt to kick Chaplain Modder out. In oversimplified terms, the complaint was invalidated. The linked article also quoted Read more
Tony Carr, blogging at John Q. Public, recently highlighted an incident at Laughlin AFB in which four officers were offered Articles 15 for drug-related offenses. The first officer “publicly argue[d] his case with the convening authority” — and won. His Article 15 was thrown out.
Carr continues with what (he says) the base did next [emphasis added]:
The remaining three officers accused of factually identical conduct based on the same body of evidence likely assumed their charges would be similarly dissolved…
Calculating that the evidence against the remaining three was too weak to survive a genuine challenge, the Laughlin chain of command…opted to achieve the functional equivalent of an Article 15 by formally reprimanding the remaining officers…
Unlike an Article 15 or court-martial, an administrative Letter of Reprimand (LOR) can be issued on the basis of information solely and subjectively evaluated by Read more
Jason Torpy, a former US Army Captain and current atheist, recently claimed that Christians in the US military are “play[ing] the victim” while atheists are the real victims:
“We are not alone in suffering from what has been a largely successful tactic for a subset of Christians to play the victim,” said Jason Torpy.
Journalist Leo Shane of the Military Times made the regrettable decision to drop any qualifiers, presenting Torpy’s assertions as fact [emphasis added]:
Torpy and his group are hoping…the [IG] will go beyond the unsubstantiated problems posed by Congress and include some of the actual discrimination faced by humanists and atheists that he detailed in conversations with the office.
“We need to redirect to real problems,” [he said].
Some of the issues raised by Congress have Read more
The Family Research Council released an updated version of its “Clear and Present Danger” (PDF) (previously discussed in January). There are a variety of new issues added, including the removal of the POW table at Patrick AFB over the presence of a Bible, the Navy Gideon Bible kerfuffle, Col Marquinez’s banned article, Chaplain Joe Lawhorn’s punishment, Mikey Weinstein’s “Blessed Day,” Chaplain Wes Modder, Maj Gen Craig Olson, and court-martialed US Marine Monifa Sterling.
One of the more interesting ones was actually an “old” case recently added [emphasis added]:
Soon after the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy was repealed, an Army chaplain of Lieutenant Colonel rank received an e-mail copy of a published article presenting some thoughtful points about the whole DADT debate, from a senior chaplain who was a Colonel. The Lieutenant Colonel chaplain thought it was a good article and sent it to his subordinate chaplains.
It was intercepted by his chaplain Colonel supervisor who indicated she was very angry Read more
As part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress required the DoD Inspector General to report to Congress on the US military’s promulgation of religious liberty protections. This was presumably due to perceptions the military was being unresponsive to the wording in laws passed by Congress.
As a result of that requirement, the DoD IG released an initial report (3MB PDF) last week more notable for what it did not say than what it did. Despite specific congressional attention on “individual expressions of belief,” the IG report almost completely ignored that topic — though it admitted why [emphasis added]:
Virtually all…events in a service member’s career involve subjective, discretionary decisionmaking on the part of leaders and commanders. Identifying examples of discrimination based on conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs was unrealistic because those reasons would almost never be cited as the basis for the decision…Further, denials of promotion, schooling, training, and assignment are a subset of adverse personnel actions.
To summarize: Read more
A variety of media outlets continue to cover the story of Navy Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder, who was removed from his unit after complaints that he made offensive statements in counseling.
At the Daily Signal, Kelsey Harkness notes there are actually two chaplains facing sanction right now. Besides Modder, Army Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn was also punished for telling personal stories involving his faith; his story has faded somewhat from the press, but it is still ongoing.
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the only U.S. congressman to also serve as an Air Force Reserve chaplain, believes the military has gone too far in punishing Modder and others like him.
“It’s First Amendment rights for a reason,” Collins told The Daily Signal in an exclusive interview. “Not because you agree with it.”
Rep Collins went further, repeating Read more
In response to recent attacks on religious freedom, an article by Chuck Holton questions whether Christians in the US military have become the new class of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” worried the chaplains who follow the biblical view of same-sex relationships. Congress then stepped in, passing a bill that guaranteed the rights of all military personnel to exercise their faith.
Ron Crews, head of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said the result of that legislation is that “chaplains can be chaplains.”
Unfortunately, there continue to be attacks on Christians who want to exercise or express their faith as they serve in the US military. (The article cites the story of Chaplain Lawhorn, for example.) While these attacks have generally come from outside the service — from critics like Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, for example, who attacks even Christian church services — the US military has sometimes reacted to these attacks as if the critics were correct from the outset, even if they were ultimately proven wrong. The perception of this propensity is unprecedented on any other issue over which the military is critiqued.
The result has been Read more