Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins, et. al have argued the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will hurt military retention, because all these straight homophobic soldiers would rather give up their desire to serve their country (and the pension that comes with it) than work alongside fags. But what about the military’s chaplains?
You know, the men and women responsible for the spiritual health of America’s soldiers? Turns out their religious beliefs aren’t forcing chaplains — a widely respected bunch — to quit either. In fact, they already have experience with gay soldiers. Now they just get to do it out in the open. The Christian Post reports:
Army Chaplain Lt. Col. Carleton Birch said Wednesday that chaplains already have experience in counseling homosexual soldiers and will likely be able to adjust easily to an openly homosexual military. “I’ve counseled homosexual soldiers when if I told anyone else that, they would get kicked out,” shared Birch, an evangelical. When asked if chaplains would be limited in their ability to serve soldiers following the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, he said that no changes were necessary to protect chaplains’ rights. He maintained, “We’ve always been able to preach and teach” and anticipate little change in the future.
[…] Lt. Col. Lisa H. Tice, a Reformed chaplain who serves in the personnel, budget and readiness division of the Air Force Office of the Chief of Chaplains, said that Tier 1, the first phase of the military training, is geared towards chaplains. Tice said of counseling gays, “We don’t see this as a big deal.” Navy Chaplain Capt. John H. Lea III said the trainings will be face-to-face seminars focused on situations and scenarios. According to Lea, who has been selected to conduct the trainings in his branch, the navy has not begun its trainings.
The Air Force, meanwhile, has begun its trainings. The trainings, according to Tice, are set up as a slideshow. Tice anticipates that there will be little conflict between chaplains and their beliefs. “Ministering is about providing or providing for. I cannot minister to someone who is Muslim because that is not my faith. But I can provide for him [someone else who can minister to him in his faith.] This will be a ‘providing/providing for’ issue,” expressed Tice. She said that no air force chaplains have left the military over the DADT repeal.
You mean no Air Force chaplains have quit? Well, it’s a different story in the Navy.
However, Lea reported that one navy chaplain left because of the repeal. He said of the process, “As with all changes, there are going to be hiccups.”
Wow! One! And yet I thought there was going to be a mass exodus? From an October Associated Press piece:
Dozens of retired military chaplains say that serving both God and the U.S. armed forces will become impossible for chaplains whose faiths consider homosexuality a sin if the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is thrown out. If a chaplain preaches against homosexuality, he could conceivably be disciplined as a bigot under the military’s nondiscrimination policy, the retired chaplains say. The Pentagon, however, says chaplains’ religious beliefs and their need to express them will be respected.
Clergy would be ineligible to serve as chaplains if their churches withdraw their endorsements, as some have threatened to do if “don’t ask, don’t tell” ends. Critics of allowing openly gay troops fear that clergy will leave the service or be forced to find other jobs in the military that don’t involve their faiths. “The bottom line is religious freedom,” said retired Army Brig. Gen. Douglas Lee, one of 65 former chaplains who signed a letter urging President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to keep “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Then again, we haven’t seen the full effects of repeal. It isn’t even here yet. So there’s still time, chaplains, to desert.