June 1st, 2010
03:22 AM ET

My Take: Ending 'don't ask, don't tell' would undermine religious liberty

Editor's Note: Tony Perkins is President of the Family Research Council and a Marine veteran.

By Tony Perkins, Special to CNN

Some people think allowing open homosexuality in the military means nothing more than opening a door that was previously closed. It means much more than that. It would mean simultaneously ushering out the back door anyone who disapproves of homosexual conduct, whether because of legitimate privacy and health concerns or because of moral or religious convictions.

This outcome is almost inevitable, because pro-homosexual activists have made it clear that merely lifting the “ban” on openly homosexual military personnel will not satisfy them.

The stand-alone bills that have been introduced to overturn the 1993 law, such as S. 3065, call explicitly for:

Revision of all equal opportunity and human relations regulations, directives, and instructions to add sexual orientation nondiscrimination to the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity policy and to related human relations training programs.

While not in the defense authorization bill amendment approved by the House of Representatives and a Senate committee last week, this goal will undoubtedly be accomplished administratively as part of the “necessary policies and regulations” mandated by that amendment.

This means that all 1.4 million members of the U.S. military will be subject to sensitivity training intended to indoctrinate them into the myths of the homosexual movement: that people are born “gay” and cannot change and that homosexual conduct does no harm to the individual or to society.

Anyone who points to the mountain of evidence to the contrary - or merely expresses the personal conviction that sex should be reserved for marriage between one man and one woman - runs the risk of receiving a negative performance evaluation for failing to support the military’s “equal opportunity policy” regarding “sexual orientation.”

For no other offense than believing what all the great monotheistic religions have believed for all of history, some service members will be denied promotion, will be forced out of the service altogether, or will simply choose not to reenlist. Other citizens will choose not to join the military in the first place. The numbers lost will dwarf the numbers gained by opening the ranks to practicing homosexuals.

This pro-homosexual political correctness has already begun to infect the military.

As an ordained minister and a Marine Corps veteran, I was invited to speak at a prayer event at Andrews Air Force Base earlier this year. I had every intention of delivering a spiritual message, not a political one.

But the invitation was withdrawn after I criticized President Barack Obama’s call to open the military to homosexuality in his State of the Union address. The base chaplain told me they had received some complaints - about a dozen. I pointed out that orchestrating a handful of calls was a simple task for homosexual activist groups.

If I was blacklisted merely for supporting existing law, what will happen to those who oppose the new, politically correct law?

Those most likely to suffer are military chaplains. While some in the ranks will simply choose not to exercise their First Amendment rights in order to preserve their careers, this is not an option for chaplains. Their ministry is to proclaim the moral and theological teachings of their faith.

But under the new regulations, will they be free to preach from the entire Bible? Or will they be forced to excise the many passages declaring homosexual conduct to be a sin?

In their counseling role, military chaplains assist all service members who come to them, even if they are of other faith traditions. But if a homosexual seeks counseling regarding his personal relationships, will the chaplain be free to recommend therapy to overcome homosexual attractions? Or will he be forced to affirm a lifestyle that his faith condemns?

While chaplains are members of the military, they must be “endorsed” by a sponsoring religious body. Denominations that are unequivocal in holding to a biblical standard of sexual morality may stop endorsing military chaplains rather than allow them to compromise their principles.

This may result in a chaplain corps that has plenty of Unitarian ministers and homosexual Episcopal priests, but a shortage of clergy to minister to the largest religious groups in America, such as Roman Catholics (whose catechism declares that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”) or Southern Baptists (whose Baptist Faith and Message declares that “Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography”).

It was religious liberty that drew the Pilgrims to America and it is religious liberty that leads off our Bill of Rights. But overturning the American military’s centuries-old ban on homosexual conduct, codified in a 1993 law, would mean placing sexual libertinism - a destructive left-wing social dogma found nowhere in the Constitution - above religious liberty, our nation’s first freedom.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tony Perkins.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Homosexuality • Military • Opinion

soundoff (1,287 Responses)
  1. Clark Morgan

    I think when a writer, whether in a serious piece or a self-indulgent hate fest such as this one, fleetingly alludes to a "mountain of evidence" and then rambles on for several paragraphs about inconvenienced chaplains without once specifying even a pebble that rolled down off of said mountain – it's safe to ignore him. Tony Perkins is no threat to anybody. I like Hitchens' take: "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof". It's only a matter of time before this guy serves us all a nice slice of schadenfreude pie. It never fails.

    June 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  2. Sara

    Just wondering, when did you all decide to be straight or gay? I mean the whole argument this article is making is that people who make the "choice" to be gay should not serve in the military because it might creep their fellow soldiers out. I think we need to recognize that were are disqualifying thousands of qualified, intelligent and hardworking gay men and women simply on the basis that "god" said it's "sin". Well if god reads this post, please focus on the famines in Africa, the flood in tenn., the gulf coast nightmare etc and leave the gays alone. And tell your cult followers the same.

    June 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
    • Felix

      Oh, I'm quite sure Tony spends more than a few minutes each day concentrating on making the choice not to be gay. He wouldn't be the first.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • Judy

      Right on, Sara! Personally, as a lifelong Democrat, it would creep me out more to serve in the military beside a Republican. Now THEY are some truly scary people.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      @ Sara – As a nondenominational Christian, I think that the Military should not welcome only those who are straight, but gays as well. I never had a gay friend before until last December 2009 and he invited my family and I to his birthday party in Mexico. Only my daughter knew him and grew very close to him. I didn’t know anything about him, but we took his invitation. The place where he lives is a very small village where everyone knows everybody and I heard rumors that most of the people wouldn’t show up because he was gay. We were invited to a Quiceñera that day was well. When I heard that most of the people would not attend, my heart just broke to see how evil some people can be. But anyways we attended the dinner and went to the other party, the Quiceñera, and I just didn’t want to be at the party. I couldn’t stop thinking of my new friend’s birthday party; there was just something so special about him. We didn’t even stay at the second party for not even 15 minutes. So many other people from all over came to my friend’s party and I tell you, we have never enjoyed ourselves at a birthday party as much as we his!! He is the most amazing gay friend I could ever have and I thank God for him! I look at the heart of the person, not the appearance, because looks are very deceiving.

      Now about you stating that why can’t God focus on famines in Africa, flood in Tenn., the gulf coast nightmare, etc. and leave gays alone. You are being very damn selfish here not knowing that Gays are suffering from the flood, the gulf coast nightmare, famines, and from every other thing that we are seeing. How can you possibly ask God to leave gays alone, but than let them suffer in the midst of all this chaos? I don’t think you realize what you are saying. God loves all mankind from all race, nationality, straight, and gay! I see so many hateful comments about God from you as well as others. If I would have rejected my friend’s invitation because of him being gay, will it mean that it’s God’s fault? No, it would be my ignorance from not accepting him for who he is!

      *****EVERY GAY PERSON NEEDS TO STOP PUTTING THEIR EYES ON MANKIND BECAUSE MOST OF THEM HAVE BROUGHT THE NAME OF CHRIST TO SHAME! SO STOP BLAMING GOD FOR OTHER’S STUPIDITY!**** Also, if anyone thinks that God condone murder, killing, slavery, etc. in the Old Testament, you need to read the new Testament to understand why the things happened in the Old Testament. People from the Old Testament are just people of today. We are still living as the days of Sodom and Gomorah! Nothing has changed; nothing is new under the sun….READ the book of Proverbs.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  3. Ron Nospam

    Jesus must be so proud America discriminates against gays for Biblical reasons!

    June 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
    • Tom

      You got it. Thanks for confirming what I was thinking all along.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  4. Sara


    June 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  5. Steve Caldwell

    Tony Perkins' claim that the great monotheistic religions are all anti-gay isn't supported by the facts. By saying this, he has violated the Ten Commandments by bearing false witness against his neighbor.

    First, we know that Reform and Reconstructionist Jews support equal rights for gays.

    Second, we know that some Christians also support equal rights for gays (e.g. United Church of Christ, Christians who belong to Unitarian Universalist congregations, and some individual clergy and laypersons within other branches of Christianity).

    It sounds to me like Tony Perkins' anti-gay views are a "lifestyle choice" that he is personally making and not a requirement for being a Christian. Has he tried therapy to cure him of this affliction?

    June 1, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
    • Felix

      He could start by stopping to go out of his way to find things to be offended about. Next step: to understand and affirm that things Tony finds personally annoying are not equal to things that will cause, hasten or facilitate the downfall of America or the World. Finally, to understand that people who put their personal disgust issues into God's mouth are not automatically right just because their book is old.
      Tony wouldn't believe me if I said God thought his hairstyle was an abomination, so why should I believe Tony when he says that whatever some ignorant guy in a sandy tent wrote down is true?

      June 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  6. SueK

    So, it doesn't matter that a gay person is brave, honest, kind and good-hearted.......no sir ! Those thiongs do not a good citizen make ! You MUST abide by the religious laws of the majority or we'll condemn you to hell !

    If gays can tolerate being looked down upon to be able to serve their country, Christians should at least be able to tolerate their presence.....they are not harming you, neither are they forcing you to become one of them......if Christians cannot even coexist peacefully, what does this say about them ? Will they not want to extrapolate this to the general life ? We can't tolerate gays in the army...oh no wait, we can't tolerate them ANYWHERE !! Wonderful religion ! Is this what your man/God taught you ?

    June 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
  7. Kate

    Every religion also preaches that you should not be of another religion or worship other gods, so sorry Tony. Your reasoning makes no sense. If we followed that, we would only allow chaplains to be of one religion and chances are, it wouldn't be yours.

    June 1, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  8. Mark

    If someone is brave enough to put themselves in harms way for this country then I don't give a damn who they are attracted to. I'm a Christian and, just for the record, think that the FRC and Focus on the Family have done more harm to the name of Christ than almost any organization. I can only say that not all Christians are like this. It saddens me that there are organizations like this who's focus couldn't be further from the goals of Christ which was to love and help others. Not condemn and grab for political power. Shame on you FRC!

    June 1, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Felix

      Hear hear!
      I'm not a believer, but at least you're following the path with decency and dignity in mind. Cheers!

      June 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • LL

      wow mark! You understand LOVE!! AMEN! I too would love them just the same if they decide to join, but feel as if ZERO special treatment should be given to them!

      June 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ


      June 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • Mark

      I think the only person asking for special treatment is the FRC. They want gays discriminated against based on "moral or religious convictions"? Sounds like special treatment in deference to the socially and religiously conservative to me. Gays appear to just be asking for what everyone else has, a fair chance to enlist. I think Tony Perkins and the lot like him could only flourish (in a business sense) in one place: private religious organizations filled with people who think exactly the way they do. People like him would not make it out in the real world of work where (god forbid!) you are in daily contact with people of different religious and social views and values. Perkins has lived in his ivory tower too long and has no perception of the day to day reality most of us live in. Therefore anything he or the FRC says cannot and should not be taken seriously.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  9. Dael Sumner

    My only point that gays, lesbians and transgender or transgender like people have fought and made this country what it is today right along side everyone else. Why then if they have fought for America's ideals, freedoms and rights, are they not allowed to enjoy them? No one is saying that allowing people to be openly gay in the military is going to be easy or complete integration will be arriving anytime soon. Change of any kind is difficult. However, change for the better always benifits everyone.

    June 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  10. Samuel

    The issue is not religion, it is about cutting the resources to fight a war overseas.

    June 1, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  11. RevWubby

    Islam isn't centuries behind the west, it's decades ahead. Christianity is desperatly trying to catch up! Hate-filled demagogues, like Mr. Perkins, who are pray for the end of the world and the deaths of billions who don't agree with his beliefs will not be satisified until the US government is sending out morality police and requiring virginity test for welfare.

    June 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • Riff Raff

      Yeah, sure, that's why Muslim women have to walk behind their men and wear veils. And I guess its also why many have their genitals surgically mutilated by their husbands – because they are just so far ahead of the US.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • JP

      Way to go Riff Raff for missing the point. The original comment referred to the lousy future we have coming if we allow the Christian Fundamentalists to have the same influence over government and society that the Islamic Fundamentalists currently have in countries like Iran and Afghanistan. I agree completely... we have only to look at some of those countries to see what would happen if religion was allowed free reign to set policy.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      RiffRaff, he means that people like the author are playing catch up with those people that already control and force their will on others and want to rid the world of all non-believers. Your comment actually highlights what he means.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
  12. Matt

    Religion is merely a shroud which hides this guy's true inner hatred. I love it how Christians talk about love and forgiveness and all that "WWJD" stuff... but getting them to actually abide by their won laws of tolerance seems to be a stretch. Honestly, if you need religion to call yourself a good person, maybe you have a lot of work to do. I'm just FINE without Chrisitan insanity in my personal life, and I'm sorry, but long ago it was proven that being gay is a genetic quirk, and nothing more or less. Sure there are straight people who experiment, but trust me when I say I know plenty of gay people who have always, and will always, be that way. This guy is using his religion to again shame a group of people he probably knows nothing about, and is also ignoring the fact that over 4 or 5 European Militaries advised the US that integrating gays into their military was 'Not a problem at all, and there was no impact on morale'.

    People like this guy really should lose their job for being a Christian hypocrite (but that's a redundant phrase).

    June 1, 2010 at 11:47 am |
  13. Justin

    I suppose that Jewish chaplains are forced to leave because the military does not mandate kosher meals?

    June 1, 2010 at 11:35 am |
    • tracer22

      good point... except that the military DOES have kosher meals available. The military has allowed certain individuals to wear turbans and yamakas and even grow beards when their religion called for it. Unfortunately for gay people, there isn't a religion that calls for being gay...

      June 1, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  14. Al Derwent

    As I understand it, we have the right to hold whatever beliefs we choose; express them, promote them, celebrate the traditions etc. But that is not a right to demand that others respect them, much less abide by them.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  15. Arthur Golgo Lucas

    Uma vez mais "cristãos", em nome de "Deus", demandam "o direito de odiar e desrespeitar" pessoas que pensam diferente.

    One more time "christians", in the name of "God", asks for "the right of hate and disrespect" people that think diferent.

    – From Brazil

    June 1, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  16. Charles

    Not allowing Christians to stone their wives to death for not being a virgin also undermines religious liberty. Guess what, Human Rights > Religious Liberty.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • Terlowe


      June 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  17. cmxsmitty

    Allowing Gays to serve openly does not prevent anyone from participating in the religion of their choice.

    June 1, 2010 at 10:46 am |
    • steven harnack

      But if it keeps bigots out it has added value.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  18. Veronica

    this guy should be eating his words already. the "moral majority" doesn't even realize how satanic they come across.

    June 1, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • Matt

      lol awesome. I love that quote!

      June 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  19. RKPHX

    If the Christian God (especially Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist) is so all-knowing and all-loving, why does his followers believe he has to threaten people with neverending pain in order to get them to join his club?

    June 1, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • texas777

      Ok devil!!!

      June 1, 2010 at 11:33 am |
    • steven harnack

      Yeah, that has always struck me as being more tha strange. Their god supposedly gave everyone free will but the choices are believe in me or I will use your nuts for stir-fry!

      June 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
    • Crusader K

      He doesn't. The Message has been so twisted that a large portion of the faithful feel that all belief is about feeling guiltiy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The guilt and pain you mention are leftovers from the corrupt church hierarchy from the Middle Ages. Idiots like this guy are using the same scary tactics Pope Innocent and Gregory used. Drives me crazy when so called men of God like him try putting words in God's mouth instead of the other way around. As a Catholic, I dont care what a person is or is not who fighting for me and my right to exist. I'm just grateful and honored that someone stepped up to be heroic. We should all be as heroic in standing up for their rights.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm |

      BIBLE SLAVERY LAWS ARE: KJV Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 5:21 BEATING SLAVE AS $MONEY ,Exodus 21:20-21, Exodus 21:26-27,Emancipation of Slaves: Slaves in ancient Israel were automatically emancipated after 6 years of slavery, but only if they were Jewish. However, if the slave owner "gave" the slave a wife, the owner could keep the wife and any children as his property.

      Passages in Exodus state that female slaves who were sold into slavery by their fathers would be slaves forever. A corresponding passage in Exodus contradicts this; it required female slaves to be given their freedom after 6 years.
      Exodus 21:1-4, Deuteronomy 15:12-18, Exodus 21:7, Leviticus 25:44-46:,Leviticus 25:48-53, Exodus 21:8,Leviticus 19:20-22

      June 1, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  20. MSgt John Boda, USAF (Retired)

    I find it extremely ironic that the religious right wants to use a religious argument against Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). That allowing gays to serve honestly will somehow impact how religion is practiced within a federal employment environment.

    As it stands, gays have been in the military since America's founding. And they've been welcome to serve since 1993 when DADT was installed. And believe me – religion within the military is alive and well. The only thing that will happen when gays are allowed to serve honestly is to create one standard of service across the force and reinforce integrity within the ranks. That's it. Ta da!

    As a side note, I can still remember being given a choice in basic training. We had the option of going to church on Sunday with the promise of cookies, kool-aid, and co-mingling with females OR we could stay behind and clean the barracks. Proselytize much Uncle Sam?

    June 1, 2010 at 10:37 am |
    • Terlowe

      I had the same experience in 1993 – go to church on Sunday and get cookies and a break or stay back and clean. Those were the only Sundays in my entire life I spent in church, lol.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
    • navyboy

      Thats funny Master sergeant, in the Navy we had the same choice in boot camp. The church was filled to capacity every sunday.
      I could not agree with your above stamens more. I know gays were/have been serving in all branches of the military. As long as the gay/gal next to me can do their job in a professional manor, what they do on their off duty time is none of my concern. Every one should have the right to be who they are. The military is about duty and service, not bigotry. We don't need that in the 21st century.

      On a side note: While I was serving on the Navy's honor guard burial detail, we had a first class that I'm 99% sure was gay. Never the less, she was one of, if not the most outstanding petty officer I have ever served with in over 10 yrs in the Navy. Her attention to detail was flawless. If she ever gets a command of her own, I would gladly serve under her.

      June 1, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
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About this blog

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.