Military chaplains should be prepared to serve the religious and spiritual needs of a diverse community of troops, but one evangelical Christian Air Force chaplain in Ohio apparently has a problem supporting the rights of people of different faiths.
A U.S. Navy chaplain who was accused of providing inappropriate counseling has been reassigned, and Religious Right groups are up in arms over what they see as a case of discrimination against a conservative Christian.
Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Modder, who had previously been assigned to serve Navy SEAL units, recently learned that he faces potential termination after he received a “detachment for cause” letter from his superiors.
The chaplains serving the U.S. armed forces do not reflect the religious and philosophical diversity of the men and women in uniform and do not adequately serve those with non-theistic beliefs, the American Humanist Association (AHA) said at a recent congressional briefing on Capitol Hill.
The Washington Times reported that the AHA and its allies said they want greater resources for service members who are humanist, a designation that makes up about 3 percent of the armed forces according to a 2009 survey by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.
Renewed debate over an on-going application to make Jason Heap the Navy's first humanist chaplain continues to irk the usual far-right suspects. The hosts of Fox News Channel’s “Outnumbered” recently condemned the request as unnecessary, given that atheists do not believe in a deity.
Congress is debating a large defense authorization bill, and yesterday an appalling discussion took place over the issue of non-theistic chaplains in the military.
Our Armed Forces, mirroring the rest of society, are becoming more diverse. Military personnel come from all versions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca, etc.
When plans were made for gays to serve openly in the military, Religious Right zealots and the Catholic hierarchy were predictably apoplectic. They imagined a range of dire consequences including a devastating impact on the work of military chaplains.
In a fund-raising letter last year, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins warned darkly, “[C]haplains who uphold the Bible's teaching on homosexuality will open themselves up to disciplinary action, bad fitness reports and the denial of promotions.”
By now, everyone knows that President Barack Obama said yesterday that he personally favors marriage equality. Obama said his views on the issue have evolved and told ABC News, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s attempt to inject sectarian bias into the U.S. military has been shot down, at least for now.