WASHINGTON, May 25, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (DADT) and efforts to legalize same-sex marriage are increasingly threatening the religious liberty of U.S. military chaplains to uphold traditional marriage. Lawmakers on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee have reported that chaplains opposed to DADT repeal and same-sex marriage have been silenced, punished or even told to resign.
Religious liberty threats to chaplains are not limited to sexuality controversies. In January, the U.S. Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains told Catholic Army chaplains not to read from the pulpit a letter from Archbishop Timothy Broglio. Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote that an Obamacare regulation was “a blow” to a freedom that U.S. troops have fought to defend. U.S. Army Secretary McHugh later admitted that it had been wrong to try to silence the Catholic chaplains.
Active duty chaplains from conservative religious traditions vastly outnumber those from liberal denominations. As of 2010, there were 448 Southern Baptist and 252 Roman Catholic chaplains, compared to only 56 Episcopal, 17 United Church of Christ (UCC) and two Unitarian Universalist chaplains.
IRD President Mark Tooley commented:
“Our churches, as well as individual believers and all persons who believe in liberty of conscience, should stand with U.S. military chaplains who are resisting oppressive political correctness, especially in defense of traditional marriage and expressions of traditional faith.
“Will chaplains who serve our country have all the liberties that the U.S. armed forces have sacrificed their lives for across three centuries? Will chaplains be forced to choose between fidelity to their own faith and service to America?
“On Memorial Day especially, we should recall that hundreds of thousands have died in defense of an America where liberty of conscience and religion are fully protected.”
The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church’s biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.