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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. quori

    As a retired Army NCO and Born Again Christian, I will state my personal perspective. It should not matter at all. as a soldier or marine, your duty is to perform a job, not play evangelical or disciple for your religious order or faith. If I were serving along side a woman, it would be unacceptable for me to hit on her and attempt to get her into bed....so why wouldn't that gay soldier be subjected to the same standards of conduct? The answer is...they are. Do your job. Your personal life is just that; and should have no bearing on your ability to perform your job functions while in uniform.

    I have been in the private sector for 10 years now. I do not know what some of my co workers do when they leave our place of employment, nor do I care so long as what they do is A) Legal and B) Between consenting adults. They could be gay, lesbian, cross dressing, masochists, into the most deviant fetishes imaginable. But it does not matter, so long as they are doing their job while here at work!

    Same goes for the military. People need to get a firm grip on the fact that it is a job. You are paid and employed by the government into civil service to perform a function for that branch of the armed forces. And most importanly....its voluntary. Like any other job...you dont like it or the conditions...leave.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
    • Jessica

      Thank for your service to this great country. The armed forces need more men like you at the top.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • John

      Thank you for stating something completely sane and rational. there's too much hate in this country as it is.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
    • New Yorker

      Thank you for your service and for this thoughtful answer.

      June 1, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  2. amigay

    I want to remind Mr Perkins that there are a great many gays serving in our military today that are protecting his right to speak against them and they do so quietly and in many cases without regard to their personal safety.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
    • Frustrated Tabby

      Exactly, no one remembers that men, women, gay and straight are fighting for everyones right in the USA. No one apprieciates what is being done to presever OUR FREE RIGHTS. But I am sure they have a lot of skeletons in their closest that they would not want anyone finding out about.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  3. Annexian

    I'm more afraid of the "Right wing Dominionist Christians" who've been trying to entrench themselves in the military.

    There's already tons of complaints by troops of other faiths of being harassed and targeted for discipline by commanders specifically for that reason. The Muslim soldier who fragged his commanders was likely provoked. There's been tons of incidents, even reported here, such as troops passing out "Soul winning" material, rifle sights inscribed (by manufacturer) with coded religious messages...

    If you "Right Wingers" want to bray that Gays are bad for an army, well, weren't you guys raving at how "Cool" you thought the "300" movie was...?

    June 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  4. RickBTX

    Why do we have to compromise our military to accommodate 3% of the US population?

    June 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
    • Lorne

      Because we are American's, and we've said in writing that the "3%" have rights...

      June 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • Rev. William H. Carey

      We're more than 3% of the population, for starters. Second, we pay taxes the same as you. Third, how is this a compromise, any more than allowing non-whites and females to serve? ALL citizens who wish to serve should be allowed to. Your bigotry against any percentage of the population should not even enter into the equation.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • Greling Jackson

      When you consider that 3% is still 9,240,000 people we're talking about, well, yes.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      @MR W CAREY FYI AND YOU DO KNOW CHURCHS ARE 501 IRS S CORPORATIONS ( NOT FOR PROFIT) TAX BREAKE RES RIGHT SO YOU STATEMENT IS WRONG, ATM ARE DOING BANKING UCC TRANSACTIONS ON YOUR SITE DUDE

      June 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  5. Lorne

    All these guys who go off on an anti-gay benders, every one of those suckers gets caught with a "male traveling companion..." I think the gentleman in the closet doth protest to much...

    June 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  6. Mark

    RENTBOY!!! lol Sorry I could not help myself. Seriously this group of self-hating, closet lovers needs to start blowing their, 6 pack, lord so "he can come again". Till then stay in the closet and F yourselves (or your alter boys).

    June 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  7. Active Duty

    First of all, understand that my comments do not reflect the official stance of any branch of the United States military.

    As an active duty member, I feel that this argument is completely baseless. The US government and the Department of Defense have an obligation to ensure that all military members, within the constraints of the operational environment and as the mission allows, are granted the freedom to practice their religion as they choose. Allowing gays to serve openly in the military does not directly interfere with anyone's freedom of religion, no more so than "allowing" openly gay people to shop at the same shopping mall, eat at the same restaurant, or live in the same neighborhood as straight people.

    What of religious fundamentalists that firmly believed that women should not be allowed to go to war, or that they should cover their wrists and ankles (most womens' dress uniforms include a skirt of some kind and/or short sleeves). Did we somehow infringe upon their religious freedom by allowing women to serve? Absolutely not!

    If you have something against gay men and women, simply because they are gay, it has no place in our military. It is no different from discrimination against others based on their gender, religion or the color of their skin.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
    • Cola21

      Thank you for writing this. Very well said. Best of luck to you.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  8. Dave Mott

    Religion has no place in the Government or the armed forces... belief is a personal choice so keep it in the family home and those places of worship whatever they are. Bigotry is bigotry and if you're insecure in who you are as a person, then you're going to have problems serving with anyone who is not like you no matter what their beliefs, color or behavior....time to grow up, think for yourself and quit being a slave to society.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  9. Ramon F. Herrera

    I only wish that all problems is life were this easy to resolve.

    If you do not agree with gay marriage, whether you do, you are strongly advised: DO NOT marry somebody of your same gender!!

    June 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  10. Billy

    So it's ok to impose religious views on someone, but it's not ok to have other views imposed on christians??? It's no wonder I remain Atheist.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
    • LL

      billy please dont remain an athiest becuase of PEOPLE. Jesus loves you. Hell is hot and real. I dont want you to spend eternity in hell because of some foolish thoughts that you dont agree with. Accept Jesus as Lord, and live for HIM ALONE, not man. You will always have offense in life, but none worth keeping you from eternal life with God in heaven! I care about your soul. Find God today.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
    • Krista

      @LL I'm quite certain that God isn't interested in having people choose to believe / follow God out of fear. I'm not an atheist, but I certainly don't believe in your God if you think that's what God wants/requires.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
    • LL

      Its not My God Krista–Its Jesus Christ the God of heaven and earth. I am trying to help a person and you can only come back with something negative. WOW! Please usderstand this, I love people and care about their soul, even yours. And yes, I fear for anyone who has to spend eternity in hell especially when it wasnt even designed for man to ever go there. Why would you not want the same?

      June 1, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • skeptic56

      LL, I'm sure you're a nice person, but do you realize you're just using threats? I care about your soul, hell is hot and real, etc? This is not an argument for anything, especially to an atheist who, like me, may not accept the idea of Jesus as a real person (or at least definitely not the son of a god), the idea of hell, or even of souls. You are just blowing empty threats around. I'm sorry that you are afraid of hell, and I hope for your well being in this life that you can throw off the religious chains around you.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • LL

      not meant to throw around threats...Naw...nor do I throw around religon...naw...just want the best for people. I see what you all mean from reading my post. I also understand that actions are often more powerful than words. I dont intend to fight (although, I do have guns! Is that a threat? KIDDING) Just love God and want other to do the same...Its good to know that I can learn from people like you all how to present Gods love in a more appropriate way. yall be blessed and have a wonderful day!

      June 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • skeptic56

      Thank you, LL. All the best.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  11. Geoff

    I'm fed up with Christians who have no tolerance. The Jesus that I pray to would not discriminate against gays. I support repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and have no problem with stopping the discrimination. Why do you want to act so cruely towards your brothers and sisters?

    June 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • Geoff

      "I'm fed up with Christians who have no tolerance. The Jesus that I pray to would not discriminate against gays."
      I couldn't agree more.

      I think you could start a Facebook group for that and get more folks to "Like" it than like "I'm Proud To Be Christian"

      June 1, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  12. Greg

    This guy lives in the stone age. He hides his ignorance behind a religion that has done more to harm this great nation. My Jesus would be ashamed of you and your organization. I did not choose to be gay you idiot! Take all religion out of government period. Family Values is love, respect and doing the right thing. I believe in freedom and liberty for all not those you choose.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  13. Jerry

    It amazes me that people are still this ignorant, and will proudly display there prejudice while hiding behind their holy book. He says 'For no other offense than believing what all the great monotheistic religions have believed for all of history' like there is nothing wrong with his view. The bible also says makes it very clear that women and blacks are inferior to white men. Do they still fight for that part of 'god's' word? This is just a minor example of the harms of religion, and as long as Americans cling to these ancient fables we will continue to get passed by more secular countries.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • Silk

      The Bible says nothing about black people or white people. Way to let your bigotry and hatred cloud your reasoning. That's just embarrassing, dude.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
    • Cola21

      It's not the fault of religion. It's the fault of those who fail to apply a 2,000-year-old text to the present-day. The book is not flawed. It is just cultural and contextual and historical. It must be understood and people fail to apply it.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  14. J.J.king

    Hitler himself could not have written a more disgusting article. Just add Jews in there and this article may actually have been plagiarized straight from the nazi himself.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  15. Cola21

    Here's the problem. Tony Perkins is demonstrating a complete misunderstanding of faith and religion. Moreover, he is demonstrating a complete misunderstanding of the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived as an example to challenge the barriers to love and respect. He preached against persecution. He fought to change a system based on oppression of the human spirit.

    Repealing "don't ask, don't tell" does not force anyone to believe anything. It DOES require them to learn how to deal with people who do not think or act the same as them. If requires them to work in an atmosphere absent of self-imposed ignorance. Some people you work with are gay. Some people are straight. If you cannot be mature to accept this and to accept those around you as people made in the image of God, then you need to deal with your own struggles to embrace the message of your religion. The military is not a Christian organization. It's not a religious organization. It is made up of many different people who are fighting together to defend a country. That's where their similarities lay. Beyond that, grow up and be a mature, loving person.

    If we really want to get into the morality of the military, show me where Jesus promotes war. I think another area of complication is that Tony Perkins and folks of his mentality rely almost entirely on the Old Testament rather than on the New Testament – the NEW COVENANT. Moreover, I don't think they understand the culture of the times when the Bible was written. If you don't understand the language in its proper context, then you cannot properly apply it to today.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • John Wood

      Very well put.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • C

      Romans 1-26 For this reason God gave them up to passions of dishonor; for even their females exchanged the natural use for that which is contrary to nature, and likewise also the males, having left the natural use of the female, were inflamed by their lust for one another, males with males, committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was fitting for their error.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • The Rev'd Fr. Raymond H. Burgoon-Clark

      Here's the REAL problem: RELIGION has NO place in the discussion. Separation of Church and State mandates NEUTRALITY.

      June 1, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      @ C DO AS THE GOOD BOOK SAYS THEN, BIBLE NEW TESTAMENT ROM16:16, 1Cor 16:20, 2Cor13:12, 1Thes5:26 1Pet5:14 men are told to KISS Each other, AFTER THAT SELL YOUR FAMILY TO PAY OF YOUR DEBTS, THEN EAT SOME ESTROGEN BASED FOOD /WATER MADE AND BLESSED BY "GOD YHVH' GOOGLE 'ESTROGEN IN FOOD/WATER", THEN ENDORSES SLAVERY , ALL LIKE THE GOOD BOOK SAYS OK

      June 1, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  16. LL

    I am a conservitive christian in the military. If you wanna put your life on the line and see the ugly side of war like the rest of us then come on, but dont back down if you gotta kill someone. Truth be told, I love the gay man, its the sin I despise. I despise all sin though. I am going to tell them about Jesus, the choice is theirs if they accept Him or not. Willl I treat them different? no, thats foolish. As long as they are ready to truly face everything that comes with wearing this uniform, becuase ZERO exceptions will be made for you.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      ITS NOT A SIN, SIN INVOLVES A CHOICE, ITS NOT A CHOICE WHEN "GOD YHVH' PUTS ESTROGEN IN THE FOOD AND WATER SOURCES FOR MEN TO CONSUME FOR GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF BOTH MIND AND BODY BY THE GOD BLESSED ESTROGEN BASED FOOD AND WATER SOURCE THAT YOU YOURSELF CONSUME JUST GOOGLE: "ESTROGEN IN FOOD" ,"ESTROGEN IN WATER", ESTROGEN IS IN FOOD/WATER NATURALLY BE "GOD YHVH' SO ITS UNJUST AND AN ENTRAPMENT TO OUTLAW SOMETHING THEN PUT IT IN 90% OF THE KNOWN FOOD/WATER SOURCE THEN PUNISH SOMEONE FOR THAT, WHEN IT WAS NOT THEIR CHOICE THAT ITS IN THE FOOD/WATER, AND FYI THE BIBLE JUSTIFY SLAVERY AND FOR MEN TO USE THEIR FAMILY TO PAY OFF DEBTS

      June 1, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  17. Rich

    As a gay man, I am disgusted at this and I am disgusted that CNN would post something as bigotted as this crap.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
    • Lorne

      Its a "know your enemy" sort of thing...relax...

      June 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • Cola21

      It's not disgusting for CNN to post something like this. CNN is not condoning it. It is simply exposing us to a viewpoint, which allows for dialogue, i.e. your post and my post and everyone else's post. Dialogue is necessary for understanding and respect.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
    • Ronald Harper

      Actually, it is inappropriate. It's inappropriate because it is hate speech. It's inappropriate because it is a thinly veiled attempt to codify discrimination. It's inappropriate because it tramples on freedom from religion. It's inappropriate because it defames every lgbt youth on the planet. And it's inappropriate because it makes America look like a stone-age caliphate instead of a modern social democracy. Putting this man on a platform of any kind is inappropriate, because our dialogue with him (the dialogue with the gay community) is categorically over.

      June 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • Greling Jackson

      I think CNN should have the KKK write for them next on whether or not blacks should serve in the White House.

      June 1, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
  18. Steve

    You are a bigot and a moron. I'm embarrassed that you are a former Marine.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  19. Krista

    This guy really isn't playing with a full deck. One can't say "It's against my religion to associate with gays, so they have to go!" and try to claim the law should support them because of "religious freedom". Sorry that would be respecting the religion / values of the bigot over the religion / values of the non-bigot. If someone can't stand being with those they claim are "sinners" then they shouldn't pretend to follow Jesus, the man who preferred to spend time with sinners rather than the Pharisees. Perkins is a modern day Pharisee.

    June 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  20. DAVE ID

    Why is a member of the White Nationalist Org and an a person affiliated with the KKK Allowed to have a soapbox at CNN?

    June 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      GOOD ONE DUDE......ITS THE XTIAN TAILIBAN MALITIA NETWORK

      June 1, 2010 at 5:40 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.