Navy chaplain guilty until proven innocent in gay-discrimination allegation

Navy chaplain guilty until proven innocent in gay-discrimination allegation

Told you so.

Back in 2009, I predicted that if the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy were changed, military chaplains would be hounded with questions designed to get them to state religious beliefs about homosexuality.  Those beliefs would get them in trouble.  (Emphasis added.)

Now, I never once heard a chaplain preach on homosexuality in 20 years in the military, and if one ever quoted this particular passage in 1 Corinthians [referred to in the original post], or another that calls homosexuality a sin, I don’t remember it.  … It is simply not the main thing chaplains, or people of any faith, are thinking about.  So I would not expect the issue of a military chaplain preaching against homosexuality to even come up.

But I can well imagine the subject coming up in Bible study discussion groups, which are often led by laypeople, and range over a variety of topics, some sensitive or difficult.  I can imagine a chaplain being challenged to state his opinion on the words of the Bible or the Qu’ran that prohibit homosexuality as a sin, and being accused of creating a hostile work environment if he said he took them at face value and agreed with them.  In fact, I can imagine any military member, especially a senior officer or NCO, being challenged on his or her religious beliefs about homosexuality, with the implication that adherence to the statements of the religious texts amounts to inherent prejudice against subordinates or peers.

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Once again, my predictions from before DADT was repealed have been proven correct.

But the case at hand doesn’t involve informal Bible study or discussion groups.  If the picture we have of what happened is accurate, it may even constitute targeting of the chaplain, although I stress that we don’t have the whole picture.  We know enough, however.  Todd Starnes has the story at Townhall:

Lt. Commander Wes Modder, who is endorsed by the Assemblies of God, has also been accused of being unable to “function in the diverse and pluralistic environment” of the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, S.C. …

Modder’s troubles started on Dec. 6 when an assistant in his office showed up to work with a pair of Equal Opportunity representatives and a five-page complaint documenting grievances against the chaplain.

The lieutenant junior grade officer went on to detail concerns about Moody’s views on “same-sex relationships/marriages, homosexuality, different standards of respect for men and women, pre-marital sex and masturbation.”

Modder said the young officer had only been working with him for about a month and would constantly pepper him with questions pertaining to homosexuality. He had no idea that the officer was in fact gay – and married to another man.

“His five page letter of complaint was unconscionable,” Modder said. “He said I had a behavioral pattern of being anti-discriminatory [sic] of same sex orientation.”

Was LCDR Modder – a 19-year veteran, a former Marine, with numerous decorations and a superb fitness report from his commanding officer at the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command – given the benefit of the doubt?  No:

The chaplain was not even given a chance to defend himself. He was immediately removed from duties and told to clean out his office.

“It was insulting and it was devastating,” Modder said. “I felt discriminated against. How could something like this happen at this stage of my career?”

Modder’s attorney, Michael Berry, says the content of the LTJG’s allegations suggests he “gained access” – i.e., improperly – to the confidential counseling files of sailors whom Modder had talked with.

And Modder is up-front about the fact that in one-on-one counseling, he did affirm what his Christian beliefs lead him to think is right.

Why shouldn’t he?  He’s a Christian from the Assemblies of God faith tradition.  Notably, there is no information that any of the individuals counseled complained about the advice Modder gave.

It’s not clear why the junior officer was assigned to work for him.  I wouldn’t assume the LTJG is a chaplain himself (I sincerely hope not).  In today’s manning environment, the school probably doesn’t rate two of them (i.e., doesn’t have positions for two chaplains in its manning document), even though it’s a school, with a lot of students, and therefore has special requirements.  The Nuclear Power Training Command is a tenant of Naval Support Activity Charleston, which is the activity that would manage the provision of chaplaincy services for Navy commands in the area, if their needs exceed whatever positions they are entitled to by their programmed manning.

The JO who made the allegations may have been “stashed” with the chaplain on a temporary basis for some reason – something that happens often at military schools, in fact, when students are waiting for their assigned classes to start.  We don’t know for sure, from out here.

But the bottom line is that the issue should not even come up.  Chaplains should not have to dissemble about their beliefs on moral issues in order to avoid allegations of “discrimination.”  Neither should anyone else, for that matter.

LCDR Modder could quite probably have served another 11 years without ever expressing his beliefs about homosexuality outside of a counseling session in which he was specifically asked to give his views, and which the military chain of command has no legitimate interest in anyway.  But he wasn’t allowed that appropriate professional latitude.  He was interrogated on his beliefs by a fellow officer, and is now alleged, on that basis, to be guilty of “discrimination.”

This isn’t, I continue to note, about all gays in the military.  This is about some politically over-amped activists being empowered, by a vicious command climate that starts at the very top, to attack their shipmates because of those shipmates’ moral beliefs.

But the problem isn’t confined to the Obama administration, and it won’t go away when that administration is gone.  Congratulations, America.  This is the military that became inevitable when DADT was repealed – because of what America now is: a nation that is neither tolerant nor free.

Modder said many Americans may be shocked to discover how much military culture has changed over the past few years.

“This new generation is very secular and very open sexually,” he said. “The values that the military once held – just like the Boy Scouts of America – are changing. The culture wants this. Culture is colliding with truth. That’s at the heart of this.”

This, and not the traditional military culture of chivalry and honor, is why reported incidents of sexual assaults have been soaring in the military.  Because there is no such thing as a “neutral” space in which political agendas can be enforced against people’s consciences, and nothing bad will come of it.  Searing and attacking the conscience brings every evil in its wake.  An explosion of sexual violence is, precisely, the result of American policies in education and institutional mandates for the last 50 years.  So is intimidating and silencing people of faith.  The two cannot help going together.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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