U.S. Army Chaplain Scott Squires is the latest Evangelical Christian military clergyman to be sued for being reluctant to affirm gay marriage wholeheartedly. The Fort Bragg, North Carolina minister is being sued by a lesbian soldier for rescheduling a “Strong Bonds” marriage retreat he had planned. Apparently, she wanted to receive his Southern Baptist marriage advice very badly.
Squires didn’t deny her and her partner’s participation in the retreat; rather, he rescheduled the retreat so another chaplain—one who didn’t have a religious objection to same-sex marriage—could oversee it.
In other words, she’s suing Squires for accommodating her without compromising his own beliefs.
Of course, she didn’t want Southern Baptist marriage teaching at all; she wants to be able to require a chaplain who doesn’t share her beliefs, to preach her beliefs, to her. Or at least to be punished by the military for his failure to do so.
Naturally, the Army has launched an investigation. The complainer’s attorneys hope to turn the inquiry into a career-crippling reprimand for him and an example “pour encourager les autres.”
A Captive Audience
Imposing social engineering schemes on the military was always an attractive strategy for progressives, partly because of available enforcement mechanisms like this one. Also, the military’s top-down command structure and immense bureaucracy are perfect for policy implementation.
Best of all, from the progressive point of view, subordinate military leaders who are required to implement social-justice oriented policies are constrained from criticizing them openly—as are the personnel who ultimately are on the receiving end of them. For the period of their active service, members of the military have voluntarily and severely restricted their own civil rights (particularly freedom of expression), and the progressive social engineers callously use this against them.
Another reason the military is such an attractive target for cultural vandals is the great affection and respect that patriotic Americans have for our armed forces. Perhaps the Left believes its obnoxious policies can be made less offensive to the rest of us, once clad in camouflage.
Their intentions here are poorly camouflaged indeed. Our military must not allow itself to continue to be used as the proving ground for strategies meant to erode liberties in the very society it exists to protect.
Soldiers do not give up religious liberty, and do not, whatever their ranks, have any right to impose religious beliefs upon fellow soldiers. That includes positive affirmations of homosexual unions and behavior, which are not some sort of neutral “default setting” but rather represent a radical development, rejected by many major faiths and their clergy and believers.
An Extreme Religious Test
Effectively, mandating that all military chaplains endorse homosexual behavior and support gay marriage as an institution, is a religious test—and a particularly extreme one, for what is accepted wisdom at Manhattan cocktail parties, is found only on the radical fringes of Christian theology.
Requiring Christian chaplains to endorse gay marriage (oddly enough, nobody seems to be harassing Muslim chaplains about this) might be likened to requiring Jewish chaplains to eat pork rinds on demand, in order to keep their jobs. Some nontraditionalist Jewish chaplains might, indeed, do so, and with clear consciences, viewing the biblical ban on pork as an outdated ceremonial command no longer needed in modern Judaism.
Yet forsaking such a distinctive of faith and culture would not just require the average Jewish chaplain to act against his faith, it would undermine his effectiveness as a faith leader to his military congregants. If Jewish chaplains were forbidden Jewish distinctives, then, the Orthodox or conservative Jewish soldier, airman, sailor or Marine might well conclude that his own faith is simply not represented in the chaplaincy, whether or not there were Stars of David on certain chaplains’ collars.
A Crisis of Legitimacy
Just so with Evangelical Christians, like Chaplain Squires—not to mention Mormons, Roman Catholics, and soldiers of other faith traditions true to historic standards of Judeo-Christian morality. Sure, soldiers expect that some military chaplains will represent extreme theological liberalism within the Christian range, and that all chaplains will do their level best within the limits of their own faiths to serve all soldiers. However, if it’s required that all chaplains endorse homosexual activities and sanction homosexual unions, then the overwhelming majority of believers from America’s largest faith groups will inevitably come to view the chaplain’s uniform as a mark of religious illegitimacy.
Our military chaplain corps—and the warriors it serves—deserve better. Our nation needs them to be men of conscience.
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