« Judge Rejects Liberty's Health Care Lawsuit | Main | Appeals Court Hears Proposition 8 »

December 3, 2010

Military Chaplains Voice 'Intense' Views on Gay Ban

A long-awaited report on the possible repeal of the military's ban on openly gay members says the chaplains corps has "some of the most intense and sharpest divergence of views" on the issue.

The comprehensive review, issued Tuesday (Nov. 30), concluded that "special attention" should be given to the concerns among the approximately 3,000 chaplains in the military services when and if a repeal is implemented.

The report said some chaplains condemned homosexuality as a sin and said they could not support homosexuals, while others said "we are all sinners" and chaplains should care for everyone.

Nevertheless, the report concluded that existing regulations protecting chaplains' First Amendment rights are "adequate" for the ban's repeal.

"Service members will not be required to change their personal views and religious beliefs," the report said. "They must, however, continue to respect and co-exist with others who may hold different views and beliefs."

Some retired chaplains and leaders of agencies that endorse chaplains have been outspoken against a repeal, with some predicting it could prompt an exodus of chaplains from the military.

The report said the military heard from 77 of 200 endorsing agencies, and none said they would withdraw endorsements of chaplains if a repeal occurred. It said just three of about 145 chaplains who took part in focus groups said they would seek to leave the military if there was a repeal.

Officials of some chaplains' organizations that have opposed the repeal questioned the report's claims of sufficient protections for chaplains who oppose homosexuality.

"I do not expect that anyone who holds fast with the truth as it is in the word of God ... to be allowed to continue on and to advance in their career as I did," said James Poe, a retired Navy captain and former secretary of the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain
Endorsers.

Other retired chaplains seem unwilling to suggest that chaplains should walk out on the troops if the ban is repealed.

"I have said, 'Before you consider resigning and leaving, recognize that you are there for your people in the positive and the negative,"' said Paul Vicalvi, a retired Army chaplain who directs the Chaplains Commission for the National Association of Evangelicals.

"I'm telling them not to retire. ... Now some of them may say, `I just can't operate in this environment,' but that's not coming from me."

But with the release of the report, Vicalvi remains concerned that chaplains will be prevented from counseling military members about their biblical interpretations on homosexuality.

As the Senate began hearings Thursday to consider the repeal, other chaplains' endorsers voiced skepticism.

Ron Crews, a retired Army chaplain and an endorser for Grace Churches International, an evangelical network based in Fayetteville, N.C., hopes Congress will consider language to ensure that the religious rights of all military members -- not just chaplains -- are protected.

"There needs to be a strengthening, some addition to the code that would provide a religious exemption clause," he said.

Other religious leaders say they will wait until a repeal is enacted -- which is far from a certainty -- to determine their next steps.

"We're all going to wait to see what actually transpires," said retired Chaplain Douglas Lee, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general, who endorses chaplains for several denominations, including the Presbyterian Church in America.

"Will there be able to be open and free pluralism?"

Comments

Christians who made the mistake of voting for Obama have, in many cases, already realized what a huge mistake they made. They can't undo the past, but working hard to get a different president in 2012 would be a decent gesture to show their repentance.

As a WW11 Navy veteran who had to kick a queer out of my bunk aboard ship, and later after the war and starting a career with a major manufacturer of motor trucks I had to kick another one out.

Hey! It's not about homosexuality. Its about fighting an enemy of America in violent military violence. I, personally, don't have a lot of confidence in the ability of a sexual queer to willingly go to war with a violent enemy of our nation.

Don W.,Sr.

Military chaplains...if you are not going to serve all Americans serving our country ... in harms way. Leave the military now. Our troops need you, the person who Christ has called to serve; but, if a chaplain, nurse, doctor etc can pic and choose who to help; and can't hankle the the environment(?) How lame is that reasoning in light of all the activties that take place. I have strongly disagreed with decision at my church...but not left the eldership or the church.

Most people have not watched the hearings, and this issue is really not as big as everyone is making it, it is being pushed by people with agendas on both sides. The military chiefs stated of those put out for being a homosexual the majority came forth with a statement to that affect. They were not rounded up like cattle. Any one who has been in the military would know people use loop holes to get out of fulfilling their service requirements. "Dont ask dont tell" has been used and thus abused by many for personal reasons. I am a Christian and considering becoming a chaplain in the service. I have 8 years prior service and am going back on active duty in March. Although I did not vote for Obama I think the man gets it when it comes to human rights an equality in this country. America is a country of equality. You may disagree with policy, yet you must always protect the right of others. Christians must understand if they want to have free speech, i.e bringing crusades and outreaches on military posts, be prepared to have gay pride parades as well. Christians need to wake up and understand the times we are living in we are called to make an impact for the kingdom of God and many are acting like Judas who wanted Jesus to be a earthly ruler and once He did not live up to his expectations abandoned Christ. We as Christians need to focus on the heavenly kingdom and less on this earthly one which is passing away. Just my two cents

The problem that chaplains face is this: If DADT is repealed and they counsel a soldier (or preach) that homosexuality is a sin, then they will be violating military policy. Accurate teaching of the Bible will be a punishable act of insubordination.

It is very silly to think that preaching that homosexuality is a sin would be treated as "violating military policy" if DADT is repealed. The military cannot possibly have any policies related to what chaplains can and cannot preach about, nor can there be any military policies about the religious concept of "sin."

(It is also very silly to challenge Christians to "repent" of their votes in an election, based on who they chose to support; votes do not "become sinful" because of the subsequent performance of the winners. But that is irrelevant to the discussion of the impact of repealing DADT.)

First of all I am proud to be a chaplain in the Army for the last 15 years. I believe that I am a chaplain to all I serve whether I agree or don't agree with them. I believe my great obligation is to be a good steward with this calling. I must speak the truth in love. I must be unashamed to share the hope I have in Christ. He is the only answer for all the world. As for DADT, I think that military is making a mistake for several reasons. 1) Gays have a higher rate of STDs because they have more partners. This would lead to a higher cost for all taxes payers. 2) More pedophiles are amony gays than hetrosexuals. Do I need to say more concerning this. 3) Gays are going to cause some disruptions in units especially combat units. 4) Not everyone is fit to serve in the military. There are many reasons which can cause ineffectiveness in the military. It is not essentially a place of fairness or equality. If that was the case, why aren't the blind, deaf, and others fighting to get in? 5) There are many people whose 1st Admendment rights are going to be possibly stopped or limited because they disagree. This is really a poltical agenda covering a religious ideology of relativism. My prayer is that it doesn't pass and the military can be the fighting force it needs to be to defend our nation.

There have always been gays serving in the military. As a retired chaplain I came to know some chaplains who were gay as well. Without exception, they served honorably. The real problem is that DADT asks people to live the lie that counters the basic military ethic of integrity. The issue is not homosexuality but sin...period. we'd have to close the military to get rid of all the sinners.For this Sarah lady who uses this as a "bash Obama" issue, the reality is that he took a stance, opposing same sex marriage, that his predecessor would not take. Lastly, the poster who writes about chaplains who do not go into battle must have served during WW I. Though noncombatants there are many Army chaplains who have seen much combat. I think that years from now we'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Whoa. Let's all look at what the Scriptures say. Old Testament and New - the homosexual act is condemned. ALSO: Lust and adultery are, also. The Evangelical Church's percentage of divorce rates are right up there with the rest of the "unbelieving" world's (at least, western society). WE want to call marriage "sacred;" as it is - yet treat it as though we are in a drive-through fast food restaurant -- "want this -- not that" -- and "hurry up with what I want." We treat marriage with such little respect -- but insist that it be treated with the UTMOST respect regarding any homosexual union. I am not saying "yea" or "nay" on the issue, simply because as an Evangelical, we've lost ground. I just want US (the Evangelical Church) to take a good, long look in the mirror and think about this. Please.

Not sure how to respond to what I consider an offensive post previously given in response to this article. I believe homosexuals (& all people) should be treated with love & respect. I think that labeling homosexuals as "queer" doesn't convey the love Christ calls us to give.

@b3wh169 at December 8, 2010 Why be so offended? They use that label for themselves, don't you know? So it's only wrong when someone who is not gay uses it. Oh, the hypocrisy of it all.

Its no shocker reading the comments of some Chaplains here being supportive of the repeal. I personally have never met, in my 20 years of service so far, one chaplain that was "Scriptures first, career second." it was just another job for them and one where they knew that promotion would come hard if at all if they actually 'Preached the Word, in season and out of season'. Mostly the sermons they taught were milky indirect feel good messages with little or no Biblical distinction. If they did, this would be a simple matter for them as Homosexuality is especially reprehensible in the eyes of our Holy God, (Soddom and Gommorah, et. al) and would preach the same from their military pulpits - but alas, they would not last long, especially under this new goat-head legislation and would be without a job...who's god is their bellies. We are, as a nation, even more lost and without God now and soon to be the objects of Gods wrath now that we are void of even '10 righteous'. I for one am getting out, and will not look back.


I served 30 years and retired from the Army. I was very proud of my service and grateful for God's protection. However after Saturday's vote I threw away all my military plaques and I shredded my awards. If I am recalled to go back to active duty, I will go to Leavenworth first. As a Christian I do not hate homosexuals and if I show hate I am sinning but I cannot tell someone that their sin is "okay". People are quick to point out our Lord ate with sinners but tend to leave out that He did not condone their sins but instead convicted them of their sins and for those who would, saved them from their sins. The United States is not only condoning evil but is now celebrating evil and no believing Christian should serve in the military again. May God have mercy on our nation.