Having served over twenty-five years in the Army Chaplaincy, I find the purported basis for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—individual liberty—to be pretty misleading. Repealing the current law against homosexual conduct in the military is actually going to harm liberty—religious liberty—for every chaplain who faithfully follows God’s Word and for every Soldier who looks to those chaplains for spiritual leadership.
The military chaplaincy’s sole purpose is to ensure and facilitate the free exercise of religion for military personnel, as guaranteed in the First Amendment. And if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed, chaplains’ ability to fulfill that role will be severely compromised.
The repeal would harm virtually every area of chaplains’ ministry. Biblical preaching and teaching on sexual morality would be endangered. Counseling from a biblical standpoint would likely generate charges of discrimination. Who a chaplain can hire as a youth leader or choir director may have to correspond to regulations that monitor “minority” placement throughout the command. Filtering out legally married homosexual couples from marriage retreats would likely bring the ire of homosexual activists . . . as will declining to perform the marriage ceremony for a homosexual couple in those States where it is legal. And all of these scenarios can very easily bring about career-ending Officer Efficiency Reports (OER) for the chaplain who chooses to obey God rather than man.
Another area of concern is the chaplain who refuses to conduct a worship service with an openly homosexual chaplain . . . or who works for an openly homosexual commander? How long can we expect them to remain in the military without being charged with discrimination and / or given a career ending OER?
Not only does the chaplain lose his or her religious freedom, but so do the Soldier and the military family. When the message of Bible-believing chaplains is muzzled, Soldiers and families no longer have the benefit of the full counsel of God.
General George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army during World War II, said, “I look upon the spiritual life of the soldier as even more important than his physical equipment. The soldier’s spirit, the soldier’s soul are everything. Unless the soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied upon and will fail himself and his country in the end.”
General Marshall got it right. He understood the importance of ministering to the heart of soldiers – something that is at risk with the repealing of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Chaplain (COL), Richard R. Young, U.S. Army, Retired
If you’re a military chaplain, active or retired, and are interested in becoming involved in this issue, please contact ADF with your information.
To understand what's at stake, download this important information. Learn what's at risk and how you can specifically pray for religious liberty in the military.
Do you know someone who would want to learn more about his or her constitutionally protected rights as a pastor?