ADF: not allowing anti-gay chaplains to dictate policy is unconstitutional

Timothy Kincaid

February 19th, 2010

One of the things I truly hate about political advocacy is the tendency of activists to veer towards hyperbole. The “what if” exceptions become the arguments of likelihood or commonality. The minor and slightly inconvenient are expressed in terms of extreme hardship or catastrophic abuse.

But sometimes claims and statements reach beyond rhetoric and oratorical posturing and jump straight to the irrational or the bizarre. And the claims made by the anti-gay legal advocacy group, Alliance Defense Fund, about the unconstitutionality of allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military are an example.

On Wednesday, ADF issued a letter to President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates stating their position:

… if Chaplains with beliefs that contradict the proposed policy [allowing service of openly gay men and women] are kept from roles that are likely to generate conflict – like preaching or counseling – then they, the faith groups they represent, and the soldiers whose religious beliefs they serve will all be marginalized. The military would effectively establish preferred religions or religious beliefs. This is a Constitutional offense that carries a very pragmatic consequence: just what will happen to recruiting efforts if Christians become second-class soldiers, sailors, airmen, or Marines.

Setting aside the atrocious grammar, misspellings and errors that are abundant in this letter, let’s look at the logic which ADF displayed. Here is their argument:

  • Obama and Mullen seek to overturn a policy which “that prohibits open homosexual behavior while serving in the military.”
  • To “affirm homosexual behavior” is to “for the first time in history espouse a military policy that is completely at odds with the morality expressed by many of its chaplains.” (emphasis in original)
  • Chaplains have to “abide by applicable laws, and all applicable regulations, directives, and instructions of the Department of Defense and of the Military Department” and also they must represent “specific religious denominations, and are accountable in their ministries to those groups.” But because “orthodox Christianity” does not “affirm homosexual behavior”, then “chaplains with contrary religious beliefs will be forced to choose ‘to obey God or men.'”
  • Chaplains would lose the right to deny sacraments, counsel their beliefs, or to preach in opposition to homosexual behavior. They would be forced to “allow soldiers openly engaged in homosexual behavior to lead worship services or serve in other lay leadership roles.”
  • This would lead to soldiers being denied the right to worship: “If chaplains are limited in teaching and counseling on their beliefs, then the soldiers who share their faith and rely on their instruction will
    necessarily also suffer a diminished ability to freely exercise their faith.”

This is so nutty that I can’t help but wonder if they even really sent this; surely they know that it would be an embarrassment.

First, the policy has nothing to do with “homosexual behavior”. Anti-gay activists always term their opposition in language of “behavior”, seeking to link every gay issue to “wiggling a penis in excrement“. The way that they get around this military ban being on identity is to define the act of identifying oneself as gay as being “homosexual behavior”. And a change in policy to allow open service has nothing to do with “affirmation.” The military allows its personnel many freedoms that they never “affirm.”

And, as ADF well knows, chaplains are free to preach according to their faith, to counsel on whatever they believe is appropriate, and to encourage such standards of personal morality as they think are appropriate. Any chaplain would be free to tell a soldier, “I think you should give up homosexual sex” just as freely as he is able to tell him, “I think you should give up premarital sex”, or “I think you should give up drinking.” To claim otherwise is disingenuous.

Our military is religiously diverse. And chaplains have found ways to minister to those who disagree on a whole host of issues without having to choose ‘to obey God or men.’

No Catholic chaplain is required to offer sacraments to Wiccans. No Baptist chaplain is required to say the prayers at Seder. Lutheran chaplains need not discuss the truths found in the Book of Mormon, and Pentecostals need not hear confession. But yet they all find a way to meet the spiritual needs – and often just the need for a sympathetic ear and comforting counsel – of folks whom their doctrines declare to be godless sinners dangling over the fires of hell.

It is an insult to chaplains to assume that they can work with Muslims and atheists and newly-converted pacifists, can counsel agnostics and Greek Orthodox and Reform Jews, can worship with Quakers and Pentecostals and Seventh Day Adventists all without losing their religious freedoms, but if a gay person is in the camp then it all goes out the window.

And finally, the ADF makes the outlandish assumption that the military must accommodate the anti-gay chaplains without any concern for pro-gay chaplains. They ignore the hundreds of chaplains from mainline Christianity or Judaism who believe in civil equality as a matter of the justice provisions of their faith.

Truly, they have it backwards. To establish military policy to accommodate the religious teachings of anti-gay chaplains while disdaining the religious teachings of others, would be an act of establishing religion. To say that we cannot allow gay people in the military because some chaplains are entitled to dictate the military’s official theology would be an unconscionable slur on the intents and purposes of the First Amendment.

Rob in San diego

February 19th, 2010

Shouldn’t Chaplains be comforting our soldiers before going into battle rather then telling them how evil gay people are?

And I can guarantee you that christians will never become a second class citizens in this country. Hell will freeze over before that happens.

John Doucette

February 20th, 2010

Seems to me what they really want is the right to preach hate, that discrimination and violence towards gays is acceptable.

Tru Agape

February 27th, 2010

The ADF bases its position on scripture and its religious values. And the majority of “Christians” render the ADF’s position as scriptually and morally true. We can’t expect to confront the ADF without starting at the same place they do – scripture itself. Until we start magnifying the discrepencies of what scripture and history actually say, as recorded in the earliest of manuscripts, we should expect the outrageous actions of ADF to continue without embarassment. Every debate we enter into regarding the morality of “homosexuality” should always BEGIN with one very simple question: “What is the original Greek and Hebrew word for “sodomite” used in the scriptures?” It’s time we take EVERY opportunity to expose the pathetic vulnerabilities and untruths built into the cornerstone of every argument they present and reveal the mere bigotry that lies underneath it all.

Marlene

February 27th, 2010

Let’s not forget that evangelicals have been infiltrating the ranks all during the Bush junta.

There was a few years back a major brouhaha when the stories came out of the US Air Force Academy of certain chaplains denigrating and demeaning non-Christian and even non-evangelical Christian cadets!

So the American Taliban want nothing more than to rule over every aspect of the American military…

Tom

February 28th, 2010

Haha. I have to laugh. Listen again to this part of their quote:

“The military would effectively establish preferred religions or religious beliefs. This is a Constitutional offense…”

Gee, isn’t that like how the U.S. government would be establishing preferred religious EVANGELICAL beliefs by banning gay marriage (since we all know that’s what it’s about anyway)? In other words, it’s okay to deny gays the right to marry because it’s THEIR religious beliefs that would be implemented. But heaven forbid it that a policy not based on or consistent with THEIR religious beliefs is put into effect. Oh no! That wouldn’t be acceptable. THAT would be religious discrimination. You see, it’s only religious descrimination if the conservative evangelicals don’t get THEIR way, since, as we should all know by now, it’s not discrimination when THEY do it, because they are the one true religion, right? My goodness, the whining! The hypocrisy and arrogance of these people never ceases to amaze me, it truly doesn’t.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

 

Latest Posts

How Will Today's Republican Party Mark The One Month Anniversary of the Pulse Gay Night Club Massacre?

Morelos Lawmakers Approve Constitutional Changes To Enact Marriage Equality

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1969: New York Dailies Take Their First Stab At Stonewall

Born On This Day, 1892: Henry Gerber

Social Conservatives In Morelos Mobilize To Block Marriage Equality

Federal Court Re-opens Marriage Equality Case Over Mississippi's "Religious Freedom" Law

Morelos On the Cusp Of Enacting Marriage Equality

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.