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Navy Freedoms: Few and Fahs Between

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By Tony Perkins

Where have we heard this before? “We respect your right to religious liberty, but…” It’s a familiar refrain in Obama’s military, where leaders want to seem accommodating to their troops’ First Amendment freedom, but not enough to pull back their attack. In Lt. Commander Wes Modder’s case, Captain J.R. Fahs had always been a staunch supporter of the Navy Chaplain — praising him as “the best of the best.”

That all changed when Modder’s assistant, a “married” homosexual, secretly combed through the Chaplain’s private counseling files and forwarded them to the Equal Opportunity reps as evidence of “discrimination.” Before he could even defend himself, Fahs ordered Modder to clean out his office and sent the 19-year Navy vet home. Stunned, the dad of four turned to Liberty Institute for help. For three months, he’s tried to get his job back.

That may take longer now, as the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in South Carolina, where Chaplain Modder was stationed, is digging in its heels on his ouster. In a memo, Fahs argues, “…(T)he decision to relieve you from your duties is based on your failure to uphold the core capabilities of chaplains as stated… and the professional standards of conduct and the guiding principles of the Chaplain Corps… (Y)ou have the duty to be sensitive to the religious, spiritual, moral, cultural, and personal differences of those you serve. Your inability to comfort and counsel in a matter that was respectful of the counselee while maintaining dignity and professionalism, based upon the facts contained in (attached documents) led to you being relieved of your duties.”

Later, the Captain goes on to offer a feeble excuse that his decision wasn’t based on the “exercise of religion” but on failures to comply with regulations. Of course, the only regulations that should matter are the Navy’s, which clearly state that “Chaplains minister to service members and provide advice to Commanding Officers on matters of religion, morals, ethics, and morale in accordance with — and without compromising — the tenets or requirements of their faith.” Chaplain Modder offered biblical-based counsel — which happens to warn against sexual immorality.

As FRC’s Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin put it, if the Navy wants a chaplain corps then they have to be prepared for chaplains to be chaplains. A chaplain isn’t worth anything if he isn’t allowed to minister and counsel according to his faith. If the Navy won’t allow him to be a chaplain, then he becomes nothing more than a social worker. Join more than 65,000 people who are calling for Defense Secretary Ash Carter to reinstate Chaplain Modder by signing FRC’s petition today!

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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