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May 27th, 2010
08:31 PM ET

Tony Perkins: Repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' threatens military chaplains

From CNN's Kelly Marshall: Hours before the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a measure Thursday that would repeal "don't ask, don't tell," a group of pastors, priests and rabbis gathered in the Capitol to encourage lawmakers to retain the ban on gays in the military.

The group opened the press conference with prayer, asking for God to bless their efforts and to soften the hearts of senators and congressmen to their position.


Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who co-sponsored the presser, said repealing "don't ask, don't tell" could undermine the religious liberties of those serving in the military, particularly military chaplains.

“You have over 200 sponsoring organizations that may be prevented from sponsoring chaplains because they hold orthodox Christian views that will be in conflict with what the military says is stated policy,” said Perkins.

“Most people don’t understand the military environment," said Perkins, a retired Marine. "It’s not like going to work at 8 o’clock in the morning, it’s 24-7. The strains - especially right now where you have people in one enlistment doing multiple tours of duty overseas - the strain on the family, the strain on the marriages... those chaplains don’t just preach, they counsel as well and we may see them forced out of the military, then who is going to be there to help those men and women who are sacrificing so much.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Gay rights • Military • Politics

soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Pr. Katie

    There are plenty of Christian clergy, like myself, that think its okay to be gay. They are also plenty of gay and lesbian Christians who may well want to serve. The lifting of "Don't ask" may well make room for gay and lesbian chaplains to serve openly.

    May 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  2. The Tuna

    It's good to see so many active service members and chaplains come forward to support equiality and ending DADT. I think, deep in their hearts, Tony Perkins and his ilk know they are on the wrong side of history with issue. We need the services of the LGBT personnel a lot more than we need bigoted chaplains. Tony, if your chaplain friends feel that strongly about it, I'm fine as a taxpayer with not having to pay their salaries. Let 'em try to get their own radio shows.

    May 28, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  3. Shannon Underwood

    Get rid of the chaplins and get physcolgists. We don't need spooks, and fears we need honest evaluation of people, good counselling and mediators. Priests and ministers taken care of by tax exempt organizations have no place in the military. I grew up in an army camp, the priests and ministers were officers with no understanding of the families or the men.
    The barber was the most important counsellor in the camp, or the natural leaders that helped people. The occasional pries or minister did as well but these were natural social inclined people and didn't preach, or were veterans of WW11 with a lot of life experience. Keep the religious mouchers off the government payroll!

    May 28, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  4. Ender

    I honestly beleive that if I treat a person differently because of their lifestyle I will be judged by a God who loves all his children, but dislikes their choices. I hope our military chaplains would feel the same way.

    May 28, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  5. Rabbi John M. Sherwood

    As a rabbi for more than forty years, and as a veteran, I wholeheartedly endorse Congress repealing DADT. Our gay brothers and sisters have as much right to serve as do all other members of our society. This has been the standard in the military services of the the industrialized nations for decades. Rabbis who participate in the Perkins program are an embarrassment to the predominant majority of the rabbinate.

    May 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  6. navyboy

    I can't believe these people are so frightened of gays. So what if 1% of the population that is gay wants to serve this country in uniform. Will it affect my service? Not at all. As long as they do there job in a professional manor.
    What is crazy and sad is that these chaplains don't have any problem with wickens or devil worshipers serving, just gays. Absolutely ridiculous!
    Devil=good/ok Gay=bad

    May 28, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  7. mms55

    these people are out of touch with jesus,if they were true christians they would not be judging other people they would embrace them.

    May 28, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  8. Mikey17

    So there are churches that will not send chaplains to attend to our service men and women if they think that some of them might be gay? While I suspect this is simply an empty (childish) threat (if you don't play the game my way, I'm going to take my marbles and go home) If true, however, all I have to say is: "How Christian of them !"

    May 28, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
  9. Charles

    “You have over 200 sponsoring organizations that may be prevented from sponsoring chaplains because they hold orthodox Christian views that will be in conflict with what the military says is stated policy,” said Perkins.

    Then I guess those orthodox Christians are going to have to decide if their hatred of gays is stronger than their love of American soldiers. If they can start acting like adults and grasp the concept that not everybody shares the same views as them, then good for them. If their close-minded bigotry is so strong that it prevents them from sharing the good they have to offer, then it couldn't have been that important in the first place.

    May 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  10. Timothy A Montalbo

    I am a gay veteran who served my country for eight years. People claim that chaplains take care of the service member and provide counseling on a regular bases. This is not really true. In my eight year career I only saw a chaplain speak once outside of the church. If fact many twisted chaplains would try to use their status a clergy to lure gay people to talk about the issue they where facing with their personal lives. When they had enough evidence they would have the service member administratively discharged. The funny thing is that these gay service member thought that they where talking to someone who held what they said in confidence and who cared about them. It was a lie. These chaplains preach and create bigotry in the military. I Personally never liked serving in the joint theocracy they created. Down with the Chaplain core.

    May 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  11. Gene, Texas

    Why should their religious beliefs be more important than anyone else, especially those of a soldier?

    May 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  12. Dan

    Religion has no boundry against racism and biggotry. I am no longer a religious person but grew up in the catholic church where I cannot even count the number of racist comments I heard coming from the mouths of preists and in front of children. Marie put it best, if all Christians actually practiced the teachings of Christ they would love all thier neighbors and welcome all into thier fold but allas they do not and thus I no longer follow thier corrupted teachings...

    May 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  13. Lisa

    Get rid of the chaplains who won't do their jobs then. If we're going to continue these two un-ending wars, wouldn't it be best to keep the men and women who do their jobs as translators of the actual enemy then the chaplains who "speak" to the imaginary "guy in the sky?"

    May 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
  14. Mil

    Chaplins in the military know more gay military people than most. The chaplins are the one person in the military that a person can come out to and not be kicked out. A chaplin is bound by privicy in the military and would lose there jobs if they discused something that a memeber asked be kept between them. They are for all intents and purposes the military councilers. They just happen to hold a religious position as well.

    May 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  15. AIRBORNE83

    I'm so disappointed in the decision to repeal the DADT. I'm surprise the military even went so far as to accept the behavior in the beginning. This will definately have an effect on my vote in 2012. I'm ashamed to say I was in the Military and have recently pulled all photo of the chain of command down from my desk. This is a sad day in the USA.

    May 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • Jim

      Wow! That is ignorance at it's best, Airbourne. Speaking as a pretty openly gay military man of nearly 20 years......the military is better off with out your mentality. My unit knew and didn't care because of the value I brought to the unit. But hey....you are entiled to your opinion. That freedom is one of the many we both served to protect.

      May 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  16. Toni

    Chaplains are never made to perform duties that conflict with their religious beliefs. It's ridiculous to think there would be chaplains who couldn't deliver a breakfast prayer because some of the audience members were gay. It's equally silly to consider a mass exodus of chaplains from military service because of this ruling. This isn't an issue of any kind, just another drama queen stirring the pot.

    May 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  17. L. Boone

    27 years in the Navy here, and convinced the chaplains will do as they are ordered, just like the rest of us. If they do not believe one of their fellow men is worthy of their service, and if they would dare allow that belief to interfere with their duties, they do not belong in uniform.

    May 28, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  18. Thomas

    If the chaplains can't behave as civilized people they should be kicked out of the military.

    May 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
  19. Albert

    Chaplains & War, what a joke!

    May 28, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
    • BrianCNN

      I think you underestimate the role of the chaplain. Who conducts memorial services in combat? Who consoles the soldiers and Marines in the combat zone when their friends have died? Who provides a non-attributional outlet for service members when the worries of the world are overwhelming? Who is responsible for lowering the suicide rates of servicemembers? Who helps notify family members when their loved ones have passed on or have been severely wounded?

      I don't agree with the author's logic, but I can't ignore the service that a chaplain provides. It certainly goes beyond religion.

      May 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  20. civiloutside

    "Thou shalt not kill." It's one of the top 10 rules of Christianity. The military explicitly demands that all of its members violate it (or at least be willing to violate it), but military chaplains are able to reconcile ministering to this population nonetheless. "Man shall not lie with a man as he would with a woman," doesn't make the top 10, nor will the military be demanding that any of its members violate it – merely refusing to kick out the minority who do – but for this it suddenly becomes impossible to reconcile ministering to the military?

    May 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.