Friday, April 20, 2012

Will Christianity Survive in the Chaplaincy?

From the Family Research Council's Washington Update comes this essay, "Free Speech: Rotten to the Corps?"

With all of the good that exists in our nation's military, it's been tough to stomach the last few days of headlines. Whether you're debating the photos of dismembered Afghans or the prostitution scandal in Colombia, there is obviously some very real turmoil in our Force. And while I agree with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that 99.9% of our young troops are operating under the highest standards, the military seems to be having trouble orienting itself to its new culture. After 300 years of tradition, it's been tough to adapt to the moral relativism introduced by this President. And one of the strongest foundations for military life--the chaplaincy--is being tested as never before now that troops are being forced, not only to accept homosexuality, but celebrate it.

Until the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) chaplains always had the right to speak openly about the moral issues of the day. Now, those rights are being threatened, as the administration chokes back the service members' free speech rights to make way for its radical social agenda. That's had a chilling effect on clergy, who are increasingly muzzled from speaking the truth or providing real spiritual leadership. And the more they--and Christian service members--lose their voice, the more likely the Force is to fall into a pattern of wrongdoing. In the wake of the Colombian disgrace, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said "it's a requirement that U.S. service members 'abide by the highest standards of behavior.'" How will they have the strength to follow those standards if chaplains can no longer act as the moral compass George Washington intended them to be?

Keeping the military from losing its conscience is at the heart of Rep. Tim Huelskamp's new legislation. His bill, H.R. 3828, ensures that our chaplains and service members won't have to compromise their religious beliefs to serve. That means clergy can say "no" to duties, ceremonies, or services they object to; troops can't be denied promotion or other opportunities if they disagree with homosexuality; and Defense property or facilities can only be used for the marriages of a man and woman. Like us, Congressman Huelskamp believes that freedom should exist for everyone in the military--not just the minority who agree with the administration's liberal agenda.

In his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday (which cited FRC's leadership on the issue), Huelskamp fired away at the problems caused by the DADT repeal, saying he thinks, "It is... disingenuous for people within the Obama administration to claim that there are no reports about opposition to implementation of new policies, when voicing those concerns are strictly prohibited." According to the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, there have been several instances of discrimination against the military's men and women of faith. The brave men and women in our Force should not be signing away the freedoms they're giving their lives to protect. Call your congressman and urge him to support H.R. 3828--because the ideals that drive Americans to serve are worthy of preservation, not persecution.