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. Tall Ed

    What about the Religions are ok with gays, and gay marriage. Why doesn't anyone talk about them. If someone went to a church that was ok with Gay Marriage isn't that denying their religious beliefs if the government won't let them marry?

    June 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  2. Nathan

    If Christians don't want gays around they should move to communes out in the middle of nowhere and live their lives and brainwash their children in an atmosphere of Holy Godly BS. Fact is, there are gay people whether or not you're comfortable with it! Funny thing is they believe in a boat carrying 2 of every animal on earth but they don't believe that people are born gay? What's more crazy? I say the ark!

    June 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Matt

      They did this. Its called the United States.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • Jack

      What's more crazy than an ark? How about the apple and snake thing. Oh yea... don't forget about the rib thingy.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Nathan

      True. If you look at Satan and the apple, Adam and Eve were given TRUTH and KNOWLEDGE by eating the apple. Did God want them to be stupid and follow him like farm animals?

      June 1, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  3. Jack

    Alexander The Great was gay. So what. Who really gives a S#it with who sleeps with who and what God on believes in or not.
    Come to think of it... Tony Perkins appears very gay to me. What do U think? Eh?

    June 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Nathan

      He does set off my gaydar.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  4. Samantha

    Allowing gays to openly serve in the military does not infringe upon the first amendment, the policy as it stands is 'dont ask, dont tell' at least as far as the public knows. A friend of mine joined the army a year ago, and very politely informed me that it's actually 'dont ask, dont tell, dont harass'. With that said, allowing gays to serve in the military isn't going to change religious rights of those already in place, all it will do is make it so they can't harass, with stricter punishment. The complaint is that their basic religious rights are being taken away, what about the complaints that can't be lodged by current me and women within the military for being harassed? I think the right to not being harassed far outweighs the right to try to force religion on anyone.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  5. Silk

    The author of this piece has a very primitive, undeveloped mind. His views are shockingly obtuse and completely lacking in merit. How dare he embrace and support bigotry? Does he not know what his loving Christ taught? To turn the other cheek, to embrace the low and downtrodden? Does he even understand or comprehend the words in his Bible? Apparently not. This is a sad state of affairs when such a rich religion as Christianity is being perverted and dumbed down by the troglodytes such as the author of this opinion piece.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  6. GeorgeW

    More silliness from a religious hypocrite. Who cares what this flake has to say about anything?

    June 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  7. RF

    SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE It is for a good reason. This ultra right winger would lead us back to the cave's much like the iranian clerics are trying to do to Iran. Earthquakes are caused by immodest females....indeed!

    June 1, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  8. Mike

    This is about the Democrat trying to win votes.....there needs to be time for research and working with the military to determine the best course of action.....our government needs to slow down and not buckle under pressure.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
    • Jack

      Yea... slow down right? It took a hundred years after the slaves were freed for congress to adopt the Civil Rights Act. I guess my great grand kids will be thrilled when congress gets of it's ass and does the right thing.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm |


    June 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
    • GV

      You are a moron!

      June 1, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • Jack

      Rumor has it that the Jewish carpenter was a switch hitter.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • Tom

      It is pretty hard to imagine TIMOTHY, because that situation is hardly romantic. Or Bro-mantic, for that matter.
      Btw, pretty sure you meant "imagine" and "midst." Please remember that upper-case letters do not make your point louder, or even salient. And your intense reaction to this news might also mean that you are denying your innate gayness. Good luck with that.

      June 1, 2010 at 4:23 pm |

      BIBLE NEW TESTAMENT ROM16:16, 1Cor 16:20, 2Cor13:12, 1Thes5:26 1Pet5:14 men are told to KISS Each other


      June 1, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
    • tom

      1 TIMOTHY 2:12

      Women need to shut the hell up? Wow, that's so liberating. It astonishes me how women can be religious. But maybe their husbands don't let them read those parts.

      June 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
    • Felix

      Women serve too. How many women have you embraced on the battlefield instead of doing your duty? None? So then why do you assume a gay man would behave in a way that you would not?
      Ah, there's the rub, isn't it? You assume that gay men are not able to control themselves, and heteros do. Makes you feel strong and manly, doesn't it? Let me tell you, your apparent obsession with envisioning male lips pressed onto each other while explosions rage and bullets whistle is quite telling. Don't be afraid, you can come out too.

      June 2, 2010 at 5:23 am |
  10. Wilson James

    Mr. Perkins perfectly shows why fewer and fewer people are joining organized religions. Intolerance, unacceptance and a fervorous "look like us and pray like us" mentality turn thinking people off. You Baptist? Fine. Catholic? Fine. Mormon? Fine. But overall we are AMERICANS and discrimination does not stand.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  11. Lorne

    You'd think after one of its founders got "outed" the Family Research Counsel would be laying low.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  12. commonsense

    (#($ing right wing religious nut. Oh NOES MY RELIGION IS IN CONFLICT WITH MY COUNTRY. I WANT MY COUNTRY TO BE RELIGIOUS O NOES! people like that need to leave this country and go to iran where religious freaks are part of the norm.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  13. Patrick Westerberg (The Token Square)

    As a veteran who served honorably in the US Navy for six years, part of which were I was the non-ordained, religious lay reader of our command afloat, I can say this argument is completely without merit. It is against the majority Christian religions represented in the armed forces to copulate prior to marriage – and chaplains are free to (and frequently do) counsel military members on such regards. Anything that is repugnant to the religion can be, and is, taught and preached on base by chaplains now. Nothing will change with regards to the free exercise of the religion of your choice while serving the US military. The big difference I see in the argument presented is the point that many may not volunteer to join. However, I feel in an all volunteer military, it is much better that those who do not wish to serve not join than the current situation where those who wish to serve are involuntarily kicked out!

    June 1, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  14. David

    What a jerk. He thinks that the first amendment gives him the right to push his religious beliefs on everyone. The right to freedom of religion also means the right to freedom FROM religion. Although our founding fathers held certain religious beliefs, they came here to establish a country where no group would be allowed to force their beliefs on another. "...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

    June 1, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  15. joe salters

    Gays that are in open in service will be in more danger than they would be out of service. DADT POLICY SHOULD STAY IN EFFECT EX ARMY ABN VETERAN.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
    • Lorne

      If the US military lacks the discipline to keep from harming its own, then perhaps we need a new military establishment.

      And yeah, I'm 9 year Army tanker...

      June 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
    • Adam

      How are they a danger?

      June 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • Sally

      While I agree with your sentiment Lorne I would point to the numerous attacks on women officers in our military. The sad truth is we cannot and do not protect our own soldiers from their peers.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • Michael Giannella


      June 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  16. scott

    I am really disturbed to see this religion section on a news site.

    The religious debates in this country are the closest thing I can imagine to a portal into a new Dark Age.

    It's embarrassing, disheartening - depressing.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
    • BrianCNN

      I disagree. Religion is an important aspect of many people's lives, more so than sports, movies, travel, and other cultural norms, which also have featured links on websites such as this. This religion section provides a religious perspective of many of the issues that are in the news. Besides this, it provides a forum for debate–for both the religious and non-religious alike. So, while you may not agree with having this forum, it does provide you with a forum to express your opinion. Imagine if we didn't have such a forum–I think there would be greater outcry (alas, but without the medium through which to express it).

      June 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  17. Eric

    Just another nail in the coffin of those who use their religious belief to justify bigotry and hatred. Society has evolved past the point of needing religion to be their moral compas. I love the way they say that the liberals are discriminating against christians because we will not tolerate their religious based discrimination.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm |


      June 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  18. Riff Raff

    Those who are not in the military, have never been in the military, and never plan to be in the military need to just shut up about this, their opinion doesn't count for 2 cents. The thing to remember about the military is that the military has total control over a person's life, as anyone who has been in any branch of the service knows all too well. Those who disagree with allowing gays to serve will not be free to speak up, nor will they be free to just quit and leave the service, which is a freedom that any civilian job allows. The real test, verdict, whatever you want to call it, will be not the percentages of those who agree/disagree currently being quoted (again, as members of the military are not really free to express their opinion),
    but will be measured 2 years down the road as enlistments expire – and we'll see how many soldiers the military has to force to stay in, because no one will be signing up except for the small percentage of the population that happens to be gay.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • sith lord

      You are deluded in your opinion that straight soldiers won't enlist to fight alongside gay soldiers.

      I take offense to your statment that Americans that have not served in the military have no rights to opinions about what goes on in the military. While it's true that you have less rights in the military than in civilian life, there are certain broad laws governing military conduct that are ultimatley mandated by the elected officials U.S. Government. Those elected officials were elected by American citizens that were allowed to vote regardless of whether they had military service.

      So, folks that haven't served in the military not only have the right to have an opinion about certain things that go on therein, but also have a little bit of indirect say in some of those issues by choosing to vote for politicians.

      When you serve in the military, you are protecting America's freedoms. One of those freedoms is for me to be able to speak my mind.

      While I honor your service, I'm ashamed of you and any of your brethren that take the opinion that I should have absolutely nothing about the military just becaues I never served.

      June 1, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • from Austin

      as a member of a group of people towards whom the United States military passes a great deal of judgement, I reserve the right to return the favor.

      June 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  19. SeanNJ

    Thank you for writing this, Tony. You've done more to marginalize your group in a single editorial than any of us could have ever hoped.

    June 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  20. BrianCNN

    Drop the religious charades everyone. The fundamental (and not fundamentalist) argument against the repeal of DADT would violate the terms of service for most websites and would not be printed in reputable publications.

    June 1, 2010 at 1:44 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.