One of the things I keep seeing in discussion of the Pentagon report on DADT repeal is that there are some military chaplains who are so preoccupied with homosexuality that they feel the need to proclaim hellfire and brimstone on the subject to the troops they’re charged with. This piece in the Washington Post mentions the issue:
Officials say they did not encounter objections from chaplains during past efforts to integrate African Americans and women into the military. But homosexuality presents a particular difficulty because many religions object to it on moral grounds.
“In the course of our review, we heard some chaplains condemn in the strongest possible terms homosexuality as a sin and an abomination, and inform us that they would refuse to in any way support, comfort, or assist someone they knew to be homosexual,” the report stated. “In equally strong terms, other chaplains, including those who also believe homosexuality is a sin, informed us that ‘we are all sinners,’ and that it is a chaplain’s duty to care for all Service members.”
It’s good that some of the chaplains are not bigots. The ones who would refuse to support gay troops should be relieved of their positions.
The report’s authors wrote that the opposition was not insurmountable, arguing that “the reality is that in today’s U.S. military, people of sharply different moral values and religious convictions – including those who believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and those who do not – and those who have no religious convictions at all, already co-exist, work, live and fight together on a daily basis.”
The assertion drew a sharp rebuke from Christian groups, including the Family Research Council, which on Wednesday held a news conference to highlight findings in the report that they say argue against changing the policy.
No, the assertion drew a sharp rebuke from hate groups, including the Family Research Council.
Many conservatives worry that lifting the policy would muzzle chaplains whose religions require them to preach against homosexuality. The Rev. Douglas E. Lee, a retired Presbyterian Air Force chaplain and brigadier general who now counsels and credentials chaplains, said chaplains generally point out their views on homosexuality before counseling a service member on that issue. He worried that military policies may prohibit even that level of conversation if “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed, even though Pentagon officials have not recommended any change to the policy governing chaplains’ behavior.
Oh, no, some of the chaplains might not be able to tell the troops that they’re supposed to be ministering to that they’re going to hell. This is truly terrible and worthy of our sympathy.
“The U.S. military is not a religious institution. It is a civilian government organization,” said the Rev. John Gundlach, a retired captain and Navy chaplain. “My position on this is, if they can’t handle this change, they’re in the wrong ministry setting.”
Thank you, voice of sanity.
Moreover, military chaplains are supposed to be focusing on issues specific to what troops go through, especially during wartime. If they’re so preoccupied with human sexuality, I question whether these particular chaplains are even qualified to offer ministerial guidance to troops in the first place. If they won’t do their jobs, fire ’em.