The U.S. Army has cleared a chaplain and his assistant of “dereliction of duty” charges for rescheduling a marriage retreat because of the late addition of a same-sex couple.
On Friday, the Army announced that it has tossed out all recommended charges against Chaplain Scott Squires and Chaplain Assistant Staff Sgt. Kacie Griffin serving at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, who faced career-threatening discipline because Squires followed the Southern Baptist Convention’s guidelines on marriage.
“I look forward to being able to focus on continuing my career serving my fellow soldiers,” Squires said in a statement Friday.
As previously reported, the heart of the issue revolves around Squires’ response to a lesbian soldier who wanted to participate in an Army-sponsored marriage retreat that Squires was conducting on Feb. 9–11 of this year.
Squires was accused of initially telling the soldier that she could not participate because his certification with the North American Mission Board prevented chaplains from participating in marriage retreats with same-sex couples. He also told her that she would be informed of the next time another retreat is available.
After deliberation with superiors, it was determined that the lesbian couple could sign up for the retreat and another chaplain would host it in Squires’ place. However, another chaplain was not available on the weekend of Feb. 9–11 and the retreat was rescheduled to Feb. 23–25.
Squires’ lawyers with the First Liberty Institute argued that Squires followed the Defense Department’s regulations that require chaplains to follow the tenets of their endorsing denomination.
An Army investigator under the command of Major General Sonntag accused Squires of discriminating against the lesbian soldier and recommended that he be charged with dereliction of duty because he failed to notify his technical chain of command about a soldier in need of services that he could not provide.
According to First Liberty, the dereliction charge could have resulted in up to six months in military prison.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith