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. Stephen

    Ever wonder about those ultra christian rightists constantly spouting off their superiority who end up confessing they have "sinned". Methinks Perkins may himself be hiding something here.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • John

      And so, You are who?

      June 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  2. John

    What is wrong with the RIGHT view if its narrow? You act as if it's a sin to have one. "Murder is wrong and always will be". What a narrow minded thing to say. Mr. Perkins, I believe is correct. Religion, man's version, can be a problem.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  3. J.

    What you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  4. Gerhard

    CNN, really? I would expect to find such a collection of patently false claims on Faux News, but do your have to race them to the bottom of the mud hole?

    June 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  5. martine kelston

    Changing this rule would make it harder to defend your perimeter.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  6. Clarification

    Hey everyone...I just wanted to provide some clarification on one of the 10 Commandments. This is my first post and I'm going to make an attempt at being respectful and open to the discussion as I hope you will be towards myself. I am not religious – I am a human and I have been wrong. But most importantly, I follow and walk with Christ on a daily basis.

    "Thou shall not kill"

    This is, without a doubt, not mentioned in the Old Testament. You can cross reference in Exodus 20 verse13 and Deuteronomy 5 verse 17 and it will not say "Thou shall not kill". What it DOES say is "Thou shall not murder." This often one of the most misquoted passages in the Old Testament.

    Now, I'm not here to start elaborate debates or heated discussions on different translations of the Bible, but the original Hebrew translates this passage to "Thou shall not murder." And there is a big difference between murdering and killing.

    I'm going to keep this neutral with the definitions of murder and kill

    Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines murder as: "the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought"
    Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines kill as: "to deprive of life : cause the death of b (1) : to slaughter (as a hog) for food (2) : to convert a food animal into (a kind of meat) by slaughtering"

    I'm not an expert in the legal stipulations of the law, but the main differences between murder and kill, that I can see is that murdering is "unlawfull" and performed with "malicious intent".

    I'll leave it up to you to decide where you stand on this topic. Thanks for taking the time to read this – hopefully I provided some clarification on an often misquoted Bible verse. Hope everyone has a great night 🙂

    – Clarification

    June 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
    • Mark

      Clarification, I don't think people living in ~300AD or whenever the new testament was written was using websters dictionary or even writing in English. You're making an interpretation off an interpretation.

      Jesus gave us a message of love, to turn the other cheek if someone hurts us. Jesus and God are two sides of the same coin so that's how I'd interpret it.

      June 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
    • Albert

      You are way off base here. Genesis 4:8 describes how Cain "Killed" his brother Abel and was punished for it. You are a prime example of why people have turned away from God. You twist the scriptures.

      June 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
    • Clarification

      Hey Mark 🙂

      Thanks for your reply and sincerity! I really like that you mentioned that Jesus and God are two sides of the same coin – if a coin had three sides, then we'd toss the Holy Spirit in there (but that's a different discussion) lol.

      You're right. Jesus came with a message of love and to turn the other cheek and to love everyone as God loves you. But seriously, I really thank you for your respectful reply 🙂

      June 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
    • Clarification

      Hey Albert 🙂

      That's a great point. Why did Cain kill his brother? Was it malicious or pre-meditated? With all due respect, I haven't twisted the Scriptures – I merely typed them out word for word and left it up to the audience to interrpret as they seem fit. I'm sorry if you feel I've lead you in the wrong direction. Apologies.

      – Clarification

      June 1, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
    • Dave in Arizona

      The problem with the use of the word "murder" is that it defers to law, and law varies from place to place. To follow the commandment to its logical form, the commandment would then vary from place to place. For example, if our armies invade a country and kill people there in a manner defined as "murder" by local law, then our soldiers are sinning. As it's doubtful the government of the invaded country would ever consider the killings done by invaders as "legal", the invading troops are... well... kinda screwed.

      Just one of the small flaws of the Bible, in my opinion.

      June 1, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
    • Christopher M.

      Well reasoned and well stated post. God officially sanctioned war in the Old Testament but somehow he changed his mind later? Too many people don't give themselves enough credit to reason through this stuff on their own. I personally live in the 'Bible Belt' and I've been approached countless times by self-appointed missionaries with plastic smiles and unsmiling eyes (in other words, they were liars and frauds) claiming to care about the state of my soul. It didn't take me long to realize that these individuals didn't care one iota about my person nor my soul, whereas I would lay down in traffic for them no matter who they were. It just makes me sad.

      June 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  7. Daarius

    @ Conner, its people like you that I feel no shame for when you get you in my site picture! If you don’t like serving with anyone different than you than please exit the military before you end up one of our leaders. You are no better than the people we are fighting that use religion to cut off the heads of women, non believers, and “my brothers and sisters in arms” For all of those religious people who always cry about having to with hold their religious views I have news for you. Your kind has been killing the voices of non believers for hundreds of years! If you want to believe in something than by all means do so, but don’t think you can force your one sided views on the great people of this country. This is a mockery of what the founding fathers intended for this country when it was born. Maybe everyone who thinks religion should be a part of state should go live in a country like Iran and see the results…….Well what are you waiting for GO! Once again from a straight married soldier with children at stake!

    June 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  8. David K.

    Does anyone really give any credibility to the FRC anymore? Come on get over it already. Even your FOUNDER was gay.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  9. BMWBear

    "Those most likely to suffer are military chaplains." Really? How so since most of the Military Chaplains I have known where Gay.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  10. Doctor Matthew

    Thank you for serving. That is the only nice thing I can say about you.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  11. D

    It's amazing that "service before self" is the line told to gay/lesbian service members in an attempt to shut them up/out. Interestingly, this concept "service before self" applies to every service member but I'm guessing for some, it only applies to them when it's convenient. Typical religious b.s. of fear and shame – yawn – stay out of my life!

    June 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  12. TBera

    If gays in the military is that much of a threat to Christianity, then I would say Christianity doesn't have that much substance if it can so easily be brought down. If there god was GOD, then there would be nothing to worry about.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
    • John

      Obviously, you really do not know what you are saying. I wonder if God fearing person here understands the seriousness of what this issue means. Those who are NOT God fearing (don't even know what that means) cannot have any understand what soever. If they did this would be a different conversation up here.

      June 1, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • Mark

      John, I see words on the page but I don't see a coherent thought in them.

      June 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • TBera

      It is a matter of faith, John. My experience is that Christians do not really believe in their god–that is why they feel they have to put forth the arm of the flesh to force their agenda. If His Kingdom was of this world, then would His disciples fight. You guys really need to read a bit about what it is you are supposed to believe in.

      June 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  13. Aslanspal

    Wow! now they are trotting this trojan horse out....where was it months ago...years ago...desperate to fearmonger and harm our natioln at every turn. Visualize every time they use FRC or Family Research Council....George Rekers.

    This and the younger generation have already aclimated hetero and gay...they do not feel thhreatened...I wonder why??

    June 1, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  14. pauleky

    Of COURSE they're trying to impose their religion. They are under the impression that we all worship the same, believe the same, etc., etc. They are no better than the Taliban in this regard. It's people like Perkins that make our country a laughingstock. It's time to move into the 21st century, folks. Otherwise, keep your ignorance and hate to yourself.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  15. Mel

    Separation of church and state. Anyone heard of that?

    June 1, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  16. Acd

    Mr. Perkins, that is about the stupidest opinion I ever read. It is possible, for most people, to work next to someone without feeling compelled to voice their judgments. Liberty and justice for ALL.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  17. Fabian, Hawthorne, Ca

    I'm not religious, but I do not want to know that there are gays in the military. Don't ask don't tell! We don't care if you are, and we won't ask! Jeez, i just don't wanna know! Just keep it to yourself! I'm not a gay basher or gay hater, I have friends that are gay, there is just no place for gays in the military, its about mental discipline and being gay (at least to myself) means giving in to your feelings (again don't mean to offend thats just my opinion) but there is NO place for that in the military.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  18. Tim Lee

    Now I've truly heard it all. Not forcing everyone to follow religious doctrine is an infringement on religious liberty?! What bigoted, far-fetched nonsense!

    June 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  19. martine kelston

    We should recognize the positive impact this will have on our economy. Think of all the petroleum jelly and broom sticks that the Army will need to order. "Sarcasm"

    June 1, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  20. Mightaswellbe

    Gee, Mr. Perkins' arguments sound a lot like the verbage spouted by the establishment back when President Truman told the military that you WILL desegregrate. Same kind of arguments, all worthless BS.

    Oh yes, I did 21 years between the regular navy and reserves, I spent 19 years growing up as an AIR Force Brat (SAC). So you can say I have about 40 years experience with the military. The Military will not fall to pieces over this like it didn't fall to pieces then.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:29 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.