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Southern Seas 2010

Navy Becomes Career Destroyer

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By Tony Perkins

The Navy wouldn’t think of using outdated equipment — but it sure doesn’t mind using outdated policies. Lt. Commander Wes Modder is living proof of that. The long-time chaplain could very well lose his career because his commanding officer is resorting to “obsolete” regulations to punish him. That bombshell came courtesy of Liberty Institute, which was stunned to find that Captain J.R. Fahs was refusing to apply the Defense Department’s new religious liberty laws to Chaplain Modder’s case. “Navy officials appear to be rebelling against the new DOD regulations and thumbing their nose at Congress and the Secretary of Defense. That is totally unacceptable.”

When Chaplain Modder was hauled before representatives of the military’s Equal Opportunity board for holding biblical views on marriage and sexuality, the meeting shouldn’t have ended with Modder cleaning out his office. Under the DOD’s new law, chaplains are “never required to compromise the standards of their religious organization.” Yet that is exactly what the Navy is demanding of the Chaplain, whose own assistant secretly combed through paperwork, “privileged conversations,” and counseling files to report him.

“I didn’t know he was unhappy,” Chaplain Modder told me on Friday’s “Washington Watch.” “I did not know that he was ‘married’ (to his gay partner) and trying to adopt a child. I didn’t know any of that… he never indicated that he was unhappy. On December 6, he came in with some command Equal Opportunity representatives and decided to file charges against me. And that was shocking. I felt betrayed, I felt dishonored and disrespected.”

Explaining that he and the young Naval Officer had several genuine and heartfelt conversations about marriage, Modder said he was totally blindsided. “My entire ministry is based on care…I will work with anybody in my office. It’s not based on lifestyle.” The culture has changed, he pointed out, “Navy culture has changed, and Navy policy has changed… but God’s word has not changed. The government wants me to change… But in private counseling sessions, when people are looking for a biblical response, as I am a Christian minister, ordained in the Assemblies of God Church… that’s not going to change.”

Michael Berry, Modder’s attorney, shared my astonishment that the Navy would intentionally assign a homosexual man to work in the office of a Bible-believing chaplain. If the military will investigate Modder, why not this young man, who may have very well violated confidentiality or privacy rules in his religious witch hunt? Clearly, he had an agenda, and somehow that it has superseded this chaplain’s constitutional rights. Today, we learned that the U.S. Navy has taken its punishment of Chaplain Modder a step further by banning him from even attending a sailor’s memorial service.

Join us in standing with Wes Modder — and all of the Modders out there who are facing this kind of open hostility to their freedom. More than 98,000 Americans have signed FRC’s petition to Defense Secretary Ash Carter demanding the chaplain’s reinstatement. Help us make it 100,000! Also, if you missed it, check out the interview with Modder and Michael Berry here.

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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