It is an unfortunate scenario that has become all too common – our military chaplains receiving the brunt of a politically correct stifling of religious freedom. Over the past several years, most of the threat has come in the form of attempts to control how – and in Whose name – a military chaplain may pray.
Now, in the wake of the President’s new position on same-sex marriage (and his proclivity for using the military as a trial balloon for his social policies), there is a growing concern that military chaplains will be obligated to perform marriage ceremonies that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. This is particularly troubling because a chaplain’s ability to minister to our servicemen and women is closely tied to their freedom to operate according to the tenants of their individual faith. There should never be any fear that a career as military chaplain would be jeopardized as a result of exercising a personal moral or religious belief.
Fortunately, there is an initiative underway to ensure that full freedom of conscience is extended to all our service members, and particularly our military chaplains. Last Friday, by a vote of 299-120, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Included in the bill is an amendment authored by Rep. Todd Akin that ensures robust conscience protection for our chaplains and service members.
However, the Senate has yet to consider the NDAA, so this important conscience protection is not yet in law. Because religious liberty is one of the foundational rights in this country, we should expect our elected officials on both sides of the aisle to support the basic language in the Akin Amendment. As both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full Senate prepare to consider this legislation, Americans of all faiths should speak out for the conscience rights of our military chaplains and servicemembers.
Further, the President – even after departing from the position he campaigned on – should stand on the side of a military chaplain or servicemember’s right to honor the tenants of his or her faith. Anything less is unacceptable.
Please join the ACLJ in taking a stand by signing our Petition to Protect Religious Freedom of Military Chaplains today.