In the buzz surrounding last week’s reports regarding the latest in the ongoing saga of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) in the US military, one under-reported story are the views expressed by military chaplains.
To begin, we would expect chaplains to be more informed and likely more vocal regarding moral issues. This has certainly been the case on DADT. The recent Pentagon report stated, “Some of the most intense and sharpest divergence of views about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell exists among the chaplains.”
Why? While the morality of homosexual service members is one issue, there is more to tell. According to retired Army Chaplain Brigadier Gen. Douglas Lee:
“I fear and many others fear that down the road, knowing the other
agenda items that are on the plate of those promoting a homosexual
lifestyle, (there) would be a concern that chaplains would be restricted
from proclaiming their faith tenets.”
In talking with two military chaplains on this issue, this appears to be one of the major concerns. Their comments on DADT are not an issue of bigotry toward gays but rather a safeguarding of religious freedom.
Regardless of where the future of DADT is headed, one issue that must be addressed appropriately is the ability of military chaplains and people of faith to communicate their beliefs and practices freely within the military.
A Catholic chaplain must be able to retain the freedom to refuse communion to someone based on religious beliefs. A Protestant chaplain must have the freedom to speak from Romans 1 on sexuality without reprimand. A Muslim chaplain must have the ability to speak against promiscuity without reproof. Until then, any discussion of DADT is incomplete.
ACTION POINT: To encourage a military chaplain today, consider volunteering through a letter, gift, or other donation to the Military Chaplain Support Team.
BURROUGHS is an author, activist, and co-founder of Activist Faith.
Dillon served in Haiti following the epic 2010 earthquake and has
investigated modern slavery in the US and internationally. His books
include “Undefending Christianity,” “Not in My Town” (with Charles J.
Powell), and “Thirst No More” (October 2011). Discover more at