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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. pacoder

    Religion is an abomination that has and continued to cause immense suffering and wreak terrible havok on our planet. The sooner it dies out the better off we'll be. Remember, just because millions of others believe in fairy tales doesn't make you any less crazy.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  2. robin farris

    So if my religion indicates that I don't believe in divorce...then can I also move that the military ban divorced individuals from service?

    June 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  3. R

    allowing people who believe in invisible beings out in public offends me. my freedoms are being abridged, oh noes!

    June 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • Albert

      I am with you, but be smart about your comments. The air we breath is invisible. That doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Stick with the fact that these so called Christians are hypocrites and do not follow the teachings of the Bible.

      June 1, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • mtw646

      Good point! He's saying is, "hate, intolerance, and prejudice is part of my religion, and you have to allow me to practice my religion." What a bunch of trash. The Christmas trees that cover every inch of the parks, malls, and streets threaten my rights. Take them down! If i don't like it, nobody can enjoy their freedom.

      June 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  4. Eva

    Once and for all, stop catering to religious people. This is the 21st century.
    It will only make us crazy if we try to consider buddhists, jews, muslims, christians and hindus.
    Unless you are willing to stop eating pork (for muslims and jews) and beef (for hindus), just make the miliatary a religion-free zone. I am tired of this "my god is better than yours" contest and the tyranny of the "believers". Do us a favour and believe at home.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  5. Ian

    When will these bigots recognize the separation of Church and State?

    June 1, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  6. J Williams

    This echoes so many other past persecutions. The bigots who call for the banning of gays from the military, marriage and society in general will be duly condemned by history long after the argument has been rendered moot by progressing thought and public tolerance. People like you Mr. Perkins, who blanketing bigotry and fear in the guise of religious freedom have caused the oppression of Women, African Americans, Jews and countless other peoples. Hate and misinformation work for a time sir but eventually, as history tells us society catches up and embraces all of God's children.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      THEIR THE XTIAN TALIBAN...LOL...LOL

      June 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  7. pathguy

    religious rights? that's a new one. do christians have religious rights to preclude other religions to serve in the military? there shoudl be "don't ask, don't tell" for religious beliefs in the military.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      AMEN-RA TO THAT, IT POLARIZES SO MUCH

      June 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  8. Rev Carter

    I do not have the view of those at Westburrow Baptist Church who aren't true Baptist anyhow. We are to pray for the persons ingaged in the sin. Otherwise hate the sin, but show them the love of Christ. God's word is his word and it does not change just because we live in a modern age. God is still on the throne weither you like it or not. Gods word says that being gay is a sinfull life style and that is all there is to it. I do not hate them per say put pray for them because Satan has them in his grip. I have a responsiablity to warn the wicked of their way or God will hold me accountable. If that offends you so be it. I think they should serve in the military if they want to because I am a American. I am against Gay marriage though. The people at Westburro Baptist are really sick people and in no way do I have their views.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • pathguy

      you take all you want from gays, but don't give them rights? do they not pay taxes and contributing to society as much or more than you do? keep your belief to yourself. people have rights to not be bothered by your religious or personal belief. religions are all self centered which is just a refliection of the religious people.

      June 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      THE BIBLE IN BOTH OLD AND NEW ENDORSES SLAVERY AND ALLOWS FAMILYS TO BE SOLD INTO SLAVERY TO PAY OF THE HUSBANDS DEBTS AND OR FREE HIMSELF, HOW HOLY IS THAT TALIBAN OF XT-TIANS

      June 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
    • Albert

      If you celebrate Christmas, Easter, etc. Then you are not a true Christian either. These are pagan rituals that have absolutely nothing to do with God, Jesus or the Bible.

      Nowhere are Christians told to celebrate these holidays. Neither Jesus or the early Christians observed these rituals. No one know on what day Jesus was born. Santa clause, Christmas trees, the easter bunny, easter eggs, etc. None of these things are found in the Bible. Again these are pagan rituals.

      My point? don't come here judging when you are committing a worse sin namely, worshiping false pagan Gods (Satan). You hypocrites!

      June 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • dude

      This is a reply to shariiria. The bible doesn't say "go force poeple to be your slave", it merely describes they way things were back then and says basically, if your stuck being a slave, at least be a good one. The Bible doesn't condone or endorese slavery - it merely describes it.

      June 1, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
    • Austin

      Reverends and other religious official (including yourself) who alienate a whole faction of God's people are not doing their job. Teaching that God's love is conditional is a sin. And using the bible like a grocery store where you can pick what you want and ignore the rest is a sign of ignorance. You will be held accountable for the sin of misleading God's people. It digusts me that you can live with the fact that you are a bigot.

      I love that my country supports civil liberties over religious liberties. I hope the rest of you crazies get on board with that fact. Support the troops and thank them for their service every day.

      Gay, Christian, and Saved.

      June 1, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      @RC CHRIST IS MALE RIGHT, ARE MALE XTANS MARRIED TO "JESUS' AS HIS BRIDE? STRANGE

      June 1, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  9. Willis

    Just imagine how much money this guy will raise with this 'statement." He feeds on this stuff so he can rake in the dollars.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  10. seabrook

    Although I didn't spend the time it would have taken me to read every comment, many good things have been said and some equally bad things at the outer extremes.

    I would like to add my personal statement as a Christian that I feel the same Christians that co-opted my flag are now co-opting the conversation of what Christians think about gays in the military. This sense of ownership of what every Christian thinks is making the world worse for Christians who want to be loving and follow the example of Jesus Christ.

    God is my judge and God alone. I seek balance and Christ helps my imbalances.

    I've been a Christian long enough to know that those Christians who are intolerant of other people(s) will not listen to my request, but please if you have a heart and mind to find peace in Christ don't consider that these people who bear so much intolerance and hate are all that there is to Christianity. I've lived it for over 40 years now and making that commitment to follow Jesus Christ and learn his ways was the best decision I every made. We all must make our own decisions and we must let others make theirs. I am called to love and to live my life in such a way as to show the world that God is love and I can find no room for judging others in that call.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  11. The Dude

    If they want to hate they can join the Taliban.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • hypocrites

      The Taliban beat off! In that sense, Tony Perkins and the religious nuts have already joined the Taliban! 🙂

      June 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  12. Sarah

    I am horrified (but not surprised) that CNN regards a member of the Family Research Council as a legitimate source. Does anyone else remember the "gays should be exported" incident? Same group. Do the research, CNN, and try to find someone whose opinion is actually relevant next time.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  13. CommonSense

    A threat to religion? I would hope it is, but unfortunately there are so many ignorant conformist Americans that any threat to the nonsensical Abrahamic myths will be a minimal threat.

    Look at this childish fool talking about "Satan" in the one of the posts here. Hey does Satan have horns and a pitchfork ??
    Hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
    • hypocrites

      Does Satan beat off, too? 🙂

      June 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  14. JSJ

    Pretty sad. These "Christians" think their rights trump all others because they have the "power that comes from knowing".
    Mr Perkins and his ilk have no clue how irrelevant they have become. Farewell, the world is passing you by.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  15. Ed

    I'm not going to attack the man for believing in what he does, even if I disagree with it. I've said it a million times – if you can shoot, move, and communicate, follow me. The rest doesn't matter.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  16. gretchen

    fr george:

    >...BUT- if they so choose to enter the any U.S. military service then whatever happens to them is of their own doing...<

    So if YOUR gay son or daughter decided to join the US military and they were assaulted for being glbt, that would be your answer? How pathetic. How pathetic, cruel, and cold you would be, not to mention completely WRONG.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  17. Appalled

    What this column is basically saying is that giving rights to others undermines my right to be a bigot and a liar. Plenty of people thought school integration was against their religion, that interracial marriage was against their religion, but that does not make those things acceptable in a democratic society. Equal rights means just that. You don't get to take away my right to serve my country openly because you have, to me, hateful and wrong ideas. Nobody's actually taking away your right to think and say what you please. Your right to hate speech, and you do have one as this column proves, is in no jeopardy here. Abolishing "don't ask, don't tell" allows other people the right to serve openly. You already have that right, so you're not missing it particularly. But if you didn't, if your religion, say, were banned or you would be thrown out of the military for being Christian, then you'd probably think that was unfair. Not too much different. For the record, I find your views hateful and vile, but I do think you have the right to be an openly bigoted individual. That's what democracy is about: equality. Not, as you seem to think, equality and freedom of speech for me, but not those I disagree with.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
    • hypocrites

      Absolutely... religions are worse than a pile of dung! They (priests, Vatican folks) all beat off! What morality are they trying to impose on others? 🙂

      June 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  18. mtw646

    What about letting gays in the military takes rights away from religious people? That's typical of the bible thumpers. Deny others their rights and say it is done to uphold their own. What a bunch of crap. In that case, religious freedom takes away my rights of common sense.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
    • hypocrites

      Right... Religions are worse than a pile of dung! They (priests, Vatican folks) all beat off! What morality are they trying to impose on others? 🙂

      June 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  19. Thomas

    Tony Perkins is obviously a gay basher and hater. I don't care for the gay culture myself, but I've had to deal with them in my life and if they want to join the military then I say so be it. He's talking a bout religion in the military as though America's army is a HOLY ARMY for GOD! If that's what he sees, then I'm all for his type not serving my country in the military all over the world.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  20. hypocrites

    Religions are worse than a pile of dung! They (priests, Vatican folks) all beat off! What morality are they trying to impose on others? 🙂

    June 1, 2010 at 5:02 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.