Conservatives warn that the Pentagon’s recent decision to allow military chaplains to perform same-sex unions on or off military bases brings the Armed Services one step closer to alienating conservative Christian denominations.
The Pentagon’s ruling on Friday, coming less than two weeks after gays and lesbians gained the ability to serve openly in the military, allows Defense Department property to be used for same-sex ceremonies as long as such unions are not prohibited by state law.
But Ron Crews, a retired military chaplain with the rank of colonel, said this latest Defense Department memo “flies in the face” of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). “I am just stunned by the brazenness of this apparent permission for chaplains to violate federal law,” said Crews, who is now a chaplain endorser who helps dominations sponsor military chaplains.
He pointed out that all military bases are federal property and should respect federal laws such as DOMA, which states that the federal government can only recognize marriage as unions between one man and one woman. “One branch of government seems to be ignoring another branch of government,” Crews said.
The Pentagon’s new policy does not force chaplains to perform same-sex ceremonies if it conflicts with that chaplain’s religious beliefs. But Crews said this changed military landscape might force conservative chaplains into a defensive posture, as some groups are likely to test the limits of the ruling. “A new front has opened up requiring vigilance to ensure that ministry comes from a biblical background,” he said.
Doug Lee, a retired brigadier general chaplain, said chaplain endorsers are encouraging new chaplains to continue to be a source of counsel for the nation’s soldiers while “serving according to the tenants of their faith.” He added, “It is a red flag that the Pentagon is sort of dabbling into church affairs by talking about what a chaplain can and can’t do. Chaplains exist to serve their faith group, and those faith groups make decisions about a chaplain’s ministry.”
Source: World Magazine | Edward Lee Pitts