Twenty-one religious agencies providing chaplains to the U.S. military sent a joint letter to the U.S. military’s chiefs of chaplains May 23, voicing concern over the absence of religious-liberty protections if openly practiced homosexual behavior is sanctioned in the military. The letter asks the chiefs for their help in urging Congress and the Department of Defense to adopt such protections.
The signers of the letter represent many of the major Christian denominations that provide chaplains, said Chaplain Mark Schreiber, director, LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces.
“This is a significant coalition and accomplishment, and I hope it represents the turning of the tide vis-a-vis ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ and now the attack on the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Schreiber, who was a member of the team that drafted the letter, signed the letter. He said the agencies of the letter-signers represent roughly half of the 3,000 chaplains now serving on active duty.
“This is a significant accomplishment, and I pray God it will have a salutary effect to protect all of our religious liberties for every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine in light of the tensions surrounding the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the attack on the Defense of Marriage Act,” Schreiber said.
The letter expresses additional concern that the endorsing agents, who are veteran military officers and chaplains themselves, have rarely been sought for input. The letter specifically cites a recent Navy chaplaincy directive that would allow same-sex “marriage” ceremonies at Navy chapels in some states even though doing so would be illegal under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“Though this revision is now temporarily suspended pending further review, we are genuinely concerned that this might be a sign of things to come,” the letter states. “We are likewise concerned that endorsers and faith communities had no voice in the formulation of such a significant policy change. DOMA remains the law of the land. There is no clear reason why it does not apply to Federal military facilities, particularly base chapels. … Since the current administration has publicly stated that it will no longer support and defend DOMA, this action has every appearance of selective disregard for the law and raises significant concerns.”
“Service members should know that chaplains’ ministry and their own rights of conscience remain protected everywhere military necessity has placed them,” the letter continues. “We hope that you will join us in urging the DoD (Department of Defense) and Congress to adopt such specific and intentional conscience protections.”
Schreiber added that Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, the Roman Catholic Archbishop for the Military Services USA, issued his own strongly worded statement May 20 regarding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In it, Broglio reminded his readers of the “unchanging reality” that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, Schreiber said.
Posted May 26, 2011