Repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and military chaplains

For those priests and seminarians out there considering military chaplaincy during this administration…

From CNA with my emphases and comments:

Repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ could affect military chaplains’ religious freedom

Washington D.C., Feb 19, 2010 / 07:49 am (CNA).- Proposed changes [?!?  How about: "Pres. Obama’s State of the Union Address announcement about…] allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military could marginalize military chaplains from religions which consider homosexual acts sinful, a religious liberty group has warned.

Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said that if the military is forced to promote homosexual behavior [which is the right way to put this, by the way] there will be “open conflict between the virtues taught by chaplains and the moral message delivered by the military.”

“In such a conflict, it’s obvious who will win and who will lose,” Theriot claimed. “If the state favors the demands of the homosexual activists over the First Amendment, it is only a matter of time before the military censors the religious expression of its chaplains and marginalizes denominations that teach what the Bible says about homosexual behavior.”

A Feb. 17 letter from the ADF to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates lists many possible conflicts centering on whether chaplains could sincerely adhere to their religious beliefs and still conscientiously preach and counsel while serving as military chaplains.

Problems may arise concerning whether chaplains must allow soldiers who openly engage in homosexual behavior to lead worship services [ugh] or to serve in other lay leadership roles. Another concern for the ADF is whether chaplains may make public statements critical of homosexual behavior or military policy on the issue.

The ADF cited previous civilian conflicts between religious liberty and laws concerning homosexual behavior.

“Military chaplains who have volunteered to defend the liberties protected in our Constitution shouldn’t be denied those very same liberties,” Theriot argued.

He warned that forcing chaplains to “deny the teachings of their faith” in order to serve in the armed forces is a “grave threat” to the First Amendment and to the spiritual health of those in military service.

“We urge you to reconsider your decision and avoid this collision with America’s most cherished and fundamental freedom of religious liberty,” the ADF letter stated.

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21 Responses to Repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and military chaplains

  1. TomG says:

    And it won’t just be priests and evangelical ministers. NO branch of Islam will tolerate that. As Jay Nordlinger of National Review has said, in many ways this is a sick country.

  2. Dr. Eric says:

    Well, that’s one way to dismantle the world’s strongest military.

  3. lofstrr says:

    The military is going to start having a very difficult time recruiting. Consider, if say in 10 years, there are no priests in the military because of a particular ruling, will it be reasonable or wise for a young faithful Catholic to consider service? Evangelicals can at least “do” there faith lone ranger style. There is no such beast for Catholics. So now a significant portion of the population has a very good reason to refuse serving.

    Put that together with the fact that the more liberal portions of society don’t tend to have as many or often any children. And even the moderate and conservative portions of our society are only averaging 2 or just under. How many families have 4 or more children? Here we do but we are strongly religious. In the wider society 3 is unusual, probably a mistake. 4 is at best really odd and often considered irresponsible. and yet you need 4 kids to have a 50% of having a son who has a brother. It wasn’t too long ago that our military wouldn’t send an only son into combat.

    Who is going to be willing to send their only son to war now? Who is going to be willing to send their only child to war? The good news is that irreligious immoral cultures don’t survive. The bad news is that they also don’t tend to fix themselves, they tend to be replaced.

  4. Oneros says:

    “if the military is forced to promote homosexual behavior [which is the right way to put this, by the way]”

    Not really, this sort of over-reaction is going to make our side lose credibility.

    Repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” is hardly the same as forcing the military to actively promote homosexual behavior, merely to passively tolerate it, as it is passively tolerated in civilian Law now, and that doesn’t need imply any effect on religion.

    In fact, it doesn’t even really have anything to do with the behavior, period (which could always go on secretly)…merely with the question of disclosure.

    This is making a mountain of a molehill.

  5. robbini says:

    As an Army officer, I can tell you that the current army policy has always been that you can’t insult/harass or otherwise discriminate against a suspected homosexual. That being said, I’ve never heard a Catholic chaplain in the 6 odd bases I’ve been stationed at ever speak about homosexuality one way or the other. Catholic chaplains, indeed, all chaplains, are taught to be very ecumenical in their speeches and prayers. I don’t expect repealing DADT will really impact what the chaplains are preaching from the pulpit because they never tackle anything controversial anyway.

  6. steve14530 says:

    I have to say that this is just balderdash. Can officers today criticize the army for allowing wiccans to serve as chaplains in the armed forces? But practicing wica is a sin, presumably. How many chaplains, are looking the other way, about sex out of wedlock among sailors? How many sinners show up for mass without confessing? Do the chaplains allow them to serve? Not everything that is a sin is going to be against army regulations. To pretend that this is a violation of the first amendment is just weird.

  7. Bill in Texas says:

    re a military chaplain preaching against homosexuality: Like robbini, during my 10 years as a Naval officer, I never heard a chaplain preaching specifically against homosexual behavior, although they certainly (and in the case of chaplains on deployed ships, frequently) covered sins against chastity and other mortal sins, of which homosexual behavior is one.

    re a military chaplain (specifically a priest) being unable to exclude actively homosexual soldiers and sailors from functioning as lay leaders: Father can handle that the same way a parish priest handles it if he discovers that one of his lectors or EMoHC is living in sin — take the person aside and tell him or her that he or she is no longer commissioned to do that, and take him or her off the schedule. If the person objects publicly and becomes a liability to good order and discipline, there are provisions in the NJP that cover that.

    While there may be problems here and there, this is not going to mean the end of the US military, of Catholics serving in it, or of the chaplaincy. Give our service people a little credit for having enough sense and judgment to handle this correctly. It’s not like we didn’t have to deal with it 30 or 40 years ago, and you know what? We managed. The modern military will too.

  8. EXCHIEF says:

    Oneros
    Once again your colors become apparent. Common sense as well as the track record in this country over the past 20 years makes it very apparent that this is a lot more than just eliminating the “stigma” of don’t ask don’t tell. It legitimizes homosexuality in the military. That is a very different sort of thing. It is, clearly, part of the same pro homosexual agenda that pushes for pro homosexual classes in elementary schools and will, if this is implemented in the military, push hard to punish anyone (including clergy) who speaks out against it. The military is a different sort of animal. We shouldn’t even be discussing whether Chaplains will have first ammendment rights on this subject. All members of the military forfeit some of their first ammendment rights on many subjects…and this will be one of them. The UCMJ (military justice code) will guarantee that no one can speak out against homosexuality once the military has accepted it as “normal”.

  9. Oneros says:

    “Not everything that is a sin is going to be against army regulations.”

    Exactly.

    “Once again your colors become apparent.”

    Huh? So? I’m not ashamed of my deviance from “right wing” orthodoxy; I think I make it quite obvious deliberately.

    I only worry about my Catholic orthodoxy. American conservatism is a crock, just a big game of “identity politics” to sell advertising on cable news stations.

    This obsession with openly gay soldiers is one more example. It doesn’t effect me in the slightest. It won’t effect good Catholic soldiers in the slightest.

    Repealing a policy that would dismiss any soldier whose homosexual orientation or behavior comes to light…is different than “legitimizing” homosexuality in the sense of positively promoting. As steve14530 said, not every sin has to be against military policy.

    Soldiers aren’t routinely expelled from the army if they admit to masturbation or viewing pornography (though I wouldn’t be surprised if that was technically on the books from the 1950’s or something)…

    It simply means the military becomes ideologically neutral on the topic, as it should be, that it says that is peoples private business, between them and God.

    I do find it odd, however, that right-wingers can be so selectively in-tune with Sociological concepts when it comes to arguments against homosexuality in the military (“morale,” the effect on “cohesion,” the implications about how it will change the homosocial bonds of disinterested loyalty needed to motivate a unit, etc, which may all be true but aren’t significant since gays are such a small percent of the population anyway)…but then turn a blind eye to the obvious sociological fact that mandatory celibacy has a huge effect on the structure of the “map” of the social network of clergy, on the bonds of loyalty and motivation among priests (which, without any families, tend to lie primarily within the power structure of the clerical institution itself).

  10. robtbrown says:

    Robbini,

    I find it interested that you say that you are an Army officer, yet you refer to “bases”. Navy and Air Force personnel serve on bases. Army personnel serve on posts.

  11. robtbrown says:

    Oneros,

    There are practical consequences to the end of DADT. For example, in housing provided by the military, families often live in close proximity. Will military housing be provided for a homosexual and companion? If not, that raises the question of whether it is actually neutral, as you claim. If so, it raises the problem of other families, many of whom are religious. Will they decide to leave?

  12. steve14530 says:

    Oneros, you write,

    “I do find it odd, however, that right-wingers can be so selectively in-tune with Sociological concepts when it comes to arguments against homosexuality in the military (“morale,” the effect on “cohesion,” the implications about how it will change the homosocial bonds of disinterested loyalty needed to motivate a unit, etc, which may all be true but aren’t significant since gays are such a small percent of the population anyway)…but then turn a blind eye to the obvious sociological fact that mandatory celibacy has a huge effect on the structure of the “map” of the social network of clergy, on the bonds of loyalty and motivation among priests (which, without any families, tend to lie primarily within the power structure of the clerical institution itself).”

    Liberals do the same thing all the time, it is matter of what you find persuasive in any particular case, NOT as you seem to be implying intelectual dishonesty.

  13. markomalley says:

    Oneros,

    In regards to your statement, This obsession with openly gay soldiers is one more example. It doesn’t effect me in the slightest. It won’t effect good Catholic soldiers in the slightest, I have a question for you…

    Are you a veteran, retired, or currently on active duty?

    I tend to doubt it because your statement reveals an utter lack of comprehension of the logistical issues that should needfully be involved in regards to homosexual service members, particularly unaccompanied service members, particularly those in the junior enlisted grades.

    Without regard for the moral implications of the implicit condoning of this “lifestyle,” let me simply expand a bit on the simple logistical nightmare that this should cause (but admittedly is likely not to cause).

    Currently, enlisted housing is segregated by sex. Males sleep in the same dormitory room, barracks bay, or berthing space as males. Females with females. Restrooms and showers are likewise segregated in this fashion.

    Even if a single male and a single female wanted to live in the same dormitory room, it is against regulations to do so (or at least was in 2002 when I retired from the military).

    Even in a deployed field situation, separate tents would be erected to house males and females. Although the same shower facility might be used, there would be assigned times to make sure that males and females would not accidentally shower at the same time.

    (Under DADT, the assumption is that the service member is heterosexual unless explicitly stated otherwise)

    Oneros, do you agree with the policy as it is now?

    Oneros, why do you think the policy is as it is right now? Do you think it’s because of plumbing requirements or do you think it is to preserve decorum, to respect modesty, and to reduce the possibility of scandal with a service member’s reputation?

    Oneros, you stated, It doesn’t effect me in the slightest. It won’t effect good Catholic soldiers in the slightest. OK. I can accept that. So tell me how they should house junior enlisted service members in order to preserve decorum, to respect modesty, and to reduce the possibility of scandal with a service member’s reputation, once homosexual service members are allowed to openly declare and practice their sexual “preference” while serving?

  14. Oneros says:

    “Currently, enlisted housing is segregated by sex. Males sleep in the same dormitory room, barracks bay, or berthing space as males. Females with females. Restrooms and showers are likewise segregated in this fashion.”

    Same thing at colleges, friend. It hasn’t been as much of an issue as people might have thought. Because most of us are adults. You’re talking like a homophobic high schooler.

    “(Under DADT, the assumption is that the service member is heterosexual unless explicitly stated otherwise)”

    A silly assumption that doesn’t protect anyone from anything. It doesnt actually keep gays out, it just keeps them closeted. Frankly, if I had your mindset and uncomfortability about the whole thing, I’d rather KNOW exactly who to “watch out” for.

    “Oneros, you stated, It doesn’t effect me in the slightest. It won’t effect good Catholic soldiers in the slightest. OK. I can accept that. So tell me how they should house junior enlisted service members in order to preserve decorum, to respect modesty, and to reduce the possibility of scandal with a service member’s reputation, once homosexual service members are allowed to openly declare and practice their sexual “preference” while serving?”

    “Welcome the gay linebacker into your shower”. Seriously, if two homosexuals are doing something, then that’s their problem. But the presence of a homosexual isn’t going to turn a straight guy gay, so it really doesnt effect him, unless you’re implying that the gay guy will rape him.

    It’s simply libelous to insinuate that gays are all going to rape their straight peers or that they can’t control their eyes. And if they can’t, so what? I shower in the locker room at the gym down at college. I know there are gay guys there, maybe taking a peek. That’s their problem. Doesn’t effect me.

    I think men and women should be separated, but it doesn’t necessarily have all to do with presumed attraction. It just has to do with different bodies and what society considers appropriate/modest. I wouldn’t put a gay man with women. I wouldn’t put a gay man with a lesbian woman, even. Because it’s not all about presumed attraction.

    If you think that segregating the sexes when it comes to that sort of thing is all about lust…that says more about you than about the system. Certainly that is one factor, but it’s hardly the determinative one, especially when gay men would be a small minority and I’m sure sufficiently “policed” by straight guys from attempting any funny business.

    If sexual harassment does happen, then THAT is what should be punished and which should merit removal. Not some vague presumption that it “might” happen.

  15. markomalley says:

    I think men and women should be separated, but it doesn’t necessarily have all to do with presumed attraction. It just has to do with different bodies and what society considers appropriate/modest. I wouldn’t put a gay man with women. I wouldn’t put a gay man with a lesbian woman, even. Because it’s not all about presumed attraction.

    It has to do with the different bodies? Gee, I guess that means that they messed up integrating black and white soldiers, huh? After all, different bodies and all, right?

    You really should re-read what you wrote. You agree that men and women should not be housed together because of what society considers to be appropriate and modest. What is the assumption then if they are housed in the same room (barracks bay or shipboard berthing)? Society would assume that they are hooking up, that’s why. Not everybody in society, but enough that it would cause a scandal among a moral people.

    But using the same logic that you afford heterosexual males and heterosexual females you say is “homophobic” when dealing with homosexuals.

    If you have to shower with females, it doesn’t mean that there is going to be a steamy shower scene, does it? And if she checks you out secretly, that’s her problem, isn’t it??

    Oh, right, different body types. Well, you can learn to put the seat up and she can just not use the urinal. And the little metal box that’s on the side of the side of the toilet stall…well, you can just learn to leave that closed. Different body types? Doesn’t sound like a good reason to me.

    So, therefore, why are there locker rooms in your gym for men and women? Why not just two co-ed locker rooms?

    Is your homophilia causing you to be heterophobic?

    I wouldn’t put a gay man with women.

    Neither would I. Because the woman might be checking him out.

    I wouldn’t put a gay man with a lesbian woman, even.

    Neither would I. Because one or both might be secretly bi.

    But how about two homosexual men? Or two homosexual women?

    Because it’s not all about presumed attraction.

    Then why in the world does society have those quaint, antiquated mores about modesty and appropriateness?

  16. muckemdanno says:

    Too bad all these “conservatives” are more concerned with the acceptance of homosexuals in combat than they have been about sending young ladies into combat. THAT is a real abomination.

    And how often do Catholic military chaplains speak about anything as a particular sin? I don’t find very many parish priests doing so.

    Not to mention the questionable justice of the various wars America is involved in…American society has truly become a culture of death.

  17. EXCHIEF says:

    Fr Z
    I think this blog is intentionally being infiltrated. The number and variety of postings from those with less than an orthodox perspective has been increasing substantially lately. That is of course their right, but I perceive a coordinated effort to disrupt what until recently has been a pretty cohesive group. They’ll tire of it and move on I think.

  18. The discussion can continue if people keep a moderate and rational tone. I won’t hesitate to suspend anyone’s ability to post.

  19. boko fittleworth says:

    I hear that this is mostly about lesbians. Most of the men who happen to have same sex attraction and who really want to serve are content, or even prefer, to do so without making their sexual preference public. Lesbians and gay men are different. There’s a real problem with lesbians abusing their rank to prey upon and abuse women under them. (This happens in women’s sports, too. A lot. Be careful where you send your athlete daughters to college.) This isn’t about gay guys who want to serve. This is about lesbians looking for legal cover under which to harass and prey, and about non-serving homosexuals trying to reshape society.

  20. Oneros says:

    “Neither would I. Because one or both might be secretly bi.”

    And the same argument could apply to a group of all men or all women. Anyone might be secretly anything. That’s the problem with DADT.

    Which, by the way, isn’t dogma. There is nothing “less than orthodox” about opposing it as far as policy is concerned.

  21. markomalley says:

    Oneros,

    And the same argument could apply to a group of all men or all women. Anyone might be secretly anything. That’s the problem with DADT.

    Exactly. That was the flaw with DADT. It gave occasion to the lie. Prior to Mr. Clinton’s imposition of DADT, homosexuality was out and out prohibited in the military. That made sense from a Catholic perspective, as homosexuality has consistently been identified as a intrinsic moral disorder (ref CDF, Homosexualitatis problema, 3, and CDF, Persona Humana, VIII).

    Having said that, the Church also teaches that homosexuals have a tremendous cross to bear but that it is possible for them to live chastely and virtuously. The Church calls on society to treat them with compassion, respect, and sensitivity (CCC 2357-2359).

    By the way, the teachings of the Church lined up with general psychological thought on the subject not that long ago. DSM-I and DSM-II identified homosexuality as a disorder. However, as a result of homosexual activists, it disappeared by the time that DSM-III was published. Interestingly, I have read a couple of articles that are proposing that “homophobia” be identified as a disorder in the forthcoming release of DSM-V and I’ve even read some musings that will remove all paraphilias, unless those paraphilias cause distress to the individual under therapy. This will be an important step to normalizing all sexual behavior (“how can it be a criminal act if the psychological community sees nothing wrong with it?”)

    Of course, our interest here is acting in accordance with what the Church teaches, whether that agrees or not with what the APA teaches.

    As stated above, the Church teaches that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and that homosexual acts are always objectively gravely evil.

    We simply shouldn’t put people in a situation that is a near occasion of sin. Whether it is putting a kleptomaniac in the possession of a lot of other peoples’ money, whether it is giving an alcoholic the keys to a bar’s liquor cabinet, or whether it is putting a (presumably) sexually active person in very close proximity to those to whom he/she is attracted.

    You accurately identified that we, as a society, don’t allow men and women to be in situations like that because of what society considers appropriate/modest. Colleges don’t house unmarried men and women together in the same dorm rooms or ask them to use the same public showers because that would present a near occasion of sin. The military houses people together in very close quarters, particularly junior enlisted people. In even closer quarters than college dormitories, in many cases.

    It isn’t compassionate to the heterosexual to place him/her in a situation of close proximity with members of the opposite sex. Showering together, sleeping in the same space, and so on is simply not conducive to maintaining chastity in such an environment. That is not to say that females would be in immediate danger of being raped (nor males for that matter). But that IS to say that you are giving occasion to the potential temptation that may occur…between consenting adults. That is to say nothing of the discomfort that roommates would potentially feel if housed in the same room with a member of the opposite sex.

    It is beyond me how you can acknowledge this regarding presumably heterosexual people of the opposite sex, whether in a college dormitory or in a military situation, while denying that it could occur when dealing with other permutations once the “presumably heterosexual” constraint is removed.

    And I cannot comprehend, from a Catholic point of view, how this could possibly be seen as charitable for the homosexual person. The Church, in her wisdom, gave very sage advice back in 1961 with the publication of the Religiosorum institutio, where, in paragraph 30, it warns about allowing those with abnormal sexuality to enter into religious institutes, even if they have never acted on that sexuality. It very accurately identifies that such would be subject to constant temptation and not acting on it would be a continual act of heroism and a trying martyrdom.

    From my experience, I cannot see how it would be any less trying for a military member than for a religious. With the religious, he/she would be in an environment that is (presumably) full of continual prayer and the assumption would be that all members of the community would be attempting to live a chaste life (I am not trying to be pollyanish, but that would be the assumption). The military member would not be in an environment that is nearly as wholesome. He or she would be around others who have no intent on living chastely, even if the member we are speaking about was attempting to do so. And that is not a valid assumption.

    So then how do we deal with society’s expectations of appropriate/modest? Do we say that it is applicable where heterosexuals are concerned but not homosexuals?

    The fact that we’re even having this discussion shows how prescient Pope Sarto was when he published Pascendi Dominici Gregis 102.5 years ago.