Last year, conservative military chaplains presented a well organized front in opposition to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The groups argued that lifting the ban would would undermine chaplains’ constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of religion and force Orthodox Christian chaplains to exit the military, “leaving an insurmountable void in the fostering of an environment that ensures that the man and women who wear the uniform are in their best mental, emotional and spiritual condition necessary to defend the nation and the ideals that they represent.”
Well now, a different group of retired and active duty Chaplains — who have also worked behind the scenes to overturn the ban — have filed a brief supporting the Log Cabin Republicans’ ongoing challenge to DADT and are publicly rebuking the fearmongering of social conservatives. Tom Carpenter of LGBT/POV reports:
In the brief, the Forum argues that DADT represents no threat to the religious liberty of anti-gay clergy, who will continue to be able to preach their beliefs within their congregations. However, they argue retaining the policy is a threat to religious liberty of all service members “by imposing anti-gay dogma offensive to many religious organizations, [and] by preventing military chaplains from ministering to the needs of service members whose faith communities are welcoming and affirming to gays and lesbians,” among other things.
“The right of anti-gay chaplains to preach their beliefs within their denominations is not being abridged,” said Chaplain Paul Dodd, founder and co-chair of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy. Dodd served 31 years in the Army Chaplaincy, including a tour as Command Chaplain for the Army Medical Command. “But more importantly, military chaplains are trained to be pluralistic. They must respect the rights of others to hold and practice religious and moral values different from their own. […]
It gets even better. What about the largest denomination in the military, the Roman Catholics? Their Catechism makes it clear that divorce is as grave an offense against natural law as is homosexuality. Catholics who divorce cannot remarry in the church and if they do remarry, in a civil ceremony, they will be in a state of public and permanent adultery. The Catholic Church commands that gays and lesbians, as well as divorced persons, remain celibate. Doesn’t the presence of legally remarried Catholic service members challenge the religious liberty of Roman Catholic Chaplains?
A recent article in the Christian Post reported that chaplains “already have experience in counseling homosexual soldiers and will likely be able to adjust easily to an openly homosexual military.” The Pentagon has maintained that “[t]here will be no changes regarding Service member exercise of religious beliefs, nor are there any changes to policies concerning the Chaplain Corps of the Military Departments and their duties. The Chaplain Corps’ First Amendment freedoms and their duty to care for all will not change.”