By Tony Perkins
For a real-life example of how desperately Christians need religious protections, try Chaplain Wes Modder. The almost 20-year Navy vet served 8,000 combat service members “with distinction” until he was caught — doing his job. After his own temporary assistant, who concealed he was a homosexual and married to another man, reported him to the Equal Opportunity office for counseling troops according to his faith, he was stripped of his duties and ordered to clean out his office. Why? Because he dared to believe the biblical morality that his sponsoring church sent him to the Navy to espouse.
Now, facing the abrupt end to a stellar career, Chaplain Modder’s request for a religious accommodation was denied. The case is such a stunning abuse of the military’s own rules that even Congress has gotten involved. Thirty-five members have written to Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Chaplains Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben demanding that Modder be reinstated and his religious freedom be upheld.
“Military chaplains fill a crucial religious need that exists uniquely in the realm of military service — a need that is imperative to the well-being and operational readiness of the troops,” they wrote. “Navy policy also protects a chaplain’s ability to preach and teach consistent with the tenants of his or her endorsing denomination, even when sailors may disagree with the chaplain’s remarks. Chaplains have the right to express their religious beliefs during their conduct of a service of worship or religious study.”
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a military chaplain himself, fired off a second letter demanding an investigation into how “Chaplain Modder’s private, confidential communications were obtained, and whether any regulations that protect confidentiality were violated.” It’s an important question in an era of unprecedented hostility. Hopefully, the involvement of the U.S. House will send a message to the military that Congress is concerned about religious liberty in the ranks. And those who attempt to erode it, do so at their peril.
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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