Gays, the Military, and Religious Liberty
Tony Perkins — the head of the Family Research Council, not the more famous actor of the same name — argues that ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will also end religious freedom in the armed forces.
Some people think allowing open homosexuality in the military means nothing more than opening a door that was previously closed. It means much more than that. It would mean simultaneously ushering out the back door anyone who disapproves of homosexual conduct, whether because of legitimate privacy and health concerns or because of moral or religious convictions.
This outcome is almost inevitable, because pro-homosexual activists have made it clear that merely lifting the “ban” on openly homosexual military personnel will not satisfy them.
This means that all 1.4 million members of the U.S. military will be subject to sensitivity training intended to indoctrinate them into the myths of the homosexual movement: that people are born “gay” and cannot change and that homosexual conduct does no harm to the individual or to society.
Anyone who points to the mountain of evidence to the contrary – or merely expresses the personal conviction that sex should be reserved for marriage between one man and one woman – runs the risk of receiving a negative performance evaluation for failing to support the military’s “equal opportunity policy” regarding “sexual orientation.”
For no other offense than believing what all the great monotheistic religions have believed for all of history, some service members will be denied promotion, will be forced out of the service altogether, or will simply choose not to reenlist. Other citizens will choose not to join the military in the first place. The numbers lost will dwarf the numbers gained by opening the ranks to practicing homosexuals.
Those most likely to suffer are military chaplains. While some in the ranks will simply choose not to exercise their First Amendment rights in order to preserve their careers, this is not an option for chaplains. Their ministry is to proclaim the moral and theological teachings of their faith. But under the new regulations, will they be free to preach from the entire Bible? Or will they be forced to excise the many passages declaring homosexual conduct to be a sin?
In their counseling role, military chaplains assist all service members who come to them, even if they are of other faith traditions. But if a homosexual seeks counseling regarding his personal relationships, will the chaplain be free to recommend therapy to overcome homosexual attractions? Or will he be forced to affirm a lifestyle that his faith condemns?
While chaplains are members of the military, they must be “endorsed” by a sponsoring religious body. Denominations that are unequivocal in holding to a biblical standard of sexual morality may stop endorsing military chaplains rather than allow them to compromise their principles.
This may result in a chaplain corps that has plenty of Unitarian ministers and homosexual Episcopal priests, but a shortage of clergy to minister to the largest religious groups in America, such as Roman Catholics (whose catechism declares that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”) or Southern Baptists (whose Baptist Faith and Message declares that “Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography”).
First off, it’s amusing to defend a policy that denies freedom to a minority group unless they hide their most fundamental beliefs on the basis that changing it will require others to give up the freedom to speak out on their fundamental beliefs.
Still, there’s some truth in what Perkins writes. Integration of gays into the military culture will likely lead to sensitivity training and other command actions and policies to ensure it goes smoothly. And, yes, those who have strong anti-gay views will be forced to either keep that to themselves, find another line of work, or face disciplinary consequences.
The early commenters aggregated at memeorandum are over the top in their vitriol for Perkins and his beliefs, dismissing it as outright bigotry.
Wonk Room‘s Igor Volsky snarks, “Tony Perkins is worried that last week’s votes to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) could push God-fearing Christians and military chaplains out of the military and encourage disease-ridden ‘homosexuals’ to transform the institution into a gay Mecca.”
Those “great” monotheistic religions also teach that women are inferior, that slavery is a respectable institution, that to kill and be killed for your god is a virtue, that homosexuals are to be stoned to death. Don’t try to tell me that because a centuries-old book of tribalism and superstition says something is so, it deserves respect. It does not. It has earned contempt and dissent.
So his holy book and ignorant superstitions are not cause to continue a policy of discrimination, we have a history of similar arguments being made and being proven wrong…what about his claim that this change in policy will drive out good god-fearin’ gay-hatin’ soldiers and chaplains?
The Reaction‘s Capt. Fogg:
Sometimes it feels like trying to explain calculus to a deaf canary. The idea that permitting anything some religious group doesn’t like is infringing on their self-given right to tell other people what to do or to punish them for doing or not doing it, seems impossible to counter no matter how obvious or how long you try. I’ve tried for a long time, but it’s like the Shroud of Turin, even if you could show it’s made from polyester and has a made in Taiwan tag its authenticity returns again and again.
In the interest of perpetuating the kind of de facto but illegal kind of control they have exerted over private and public affairs for so long, they have invented a mythology wherein our government really owes so much to 21st century esoteric Christianist philosophy, that it’s best simply to let delusional perverts and enemies of freedom dictate to us regardless of contrary laws and public sentiment.
President Tony Perkins isn’t likely to remember that when President Truman integrated the armed forces, it offended the “rights” of racists in the very same way. Anyone who simply couldn’t bear the thought of being in the same barracks with one of those lesser races God wanted to keep separate from his own light skinned people, just had to leave and of course the same sort of people will be offended by sharing a foxhole with someone with different sexual preferences.
While I’m bemused to see such intolerant vitriol used to argue against intolerance, they’re right at a fundamental level: Members of the armed forces give up their rights to express beliefs that are prejudicial to good order and discipline.
A large percentage of our soldiers doubtless voted for John McCain and hold President Obama in some degree of contempt. They’re very limited in their rights to express that sentiment. Ditto those who oppose the wars in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Or who think women shouldn’t be flying combat aircraft or serving in harm’s way. Once something becomes official policy, service members have to suck it up and carry out their orders.
The military doesn’t employ chaplains to express themselves but rather to provide spiritual counseling and maintain morale. Indeed, chaplains are essentially non-denominational, expected to perform their duties regardless for a wide spectrum of soldiers. When we deployed to Desert Storm, we had just the one battalion chaplain. He was of some sort of Christian denomination, probably Protestant. But he was there to comfort and buck up the troops, not indoctrinate them on the more ideological tenants of his faith.