Military chaplains are asking for
reassurances that troops who openly object homosexuality will not be
punished once the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is lifted.
Chaplains from 21 religious agencies,
including representatives from the Southern Baptist Convention, the
Anglican Church in North America, and the National Association of
Evangelicals, sent a letter Monday to the military’s chief of
chaplains. The letter, prepared with assistance from the Alliance
Defense Fund, asks for help in encouraging Congress and the
Department of Defense to provide protections for military members who
discuss their opinions on homosexuality as a sin.
“This is already an assault and a
challenge on individual conscience and some soldiers may think it’s
forcing them to abandon their religious beliefs or being marginalized
for holding to those beliefs,” Douglas E. Lee, a retired Army
brigadier general and chaplain, whose signature was the first on the
letter, told the Associated Press.
“Service members should not be denied
the very constitutional liberties they volunteered to defend,”
Daniel Blomberg, legal counsel for the ADF, said. “If this
government truly cares about protecting religious liberties as it
says it does, why has it been afraid to put it in writing?”
“We strongly encourage the adoption
of broad, clear, and strong protections for conscience,” the letter
states. “Service members should know that chaplains’ ministry and
their own rights of conscience remain protected everywhere military
necessity has placed them.”
Although previous reports have said
military chaplains will still be able to preach the wrongness of
homosexuality, the letter seeks confirmation that chaplains and
troops will be free to express their views outside chapels.