December 5th, 2010
06:56 PM ET

Military chaplains debate their role without 'don't ask, don't tell'

Editor's Note: CNN's Padma Rama brings us this report from Washington.

As Congress debates the repeal of the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, military chaplains are doing their own soul-searching.

About 3,000 chaplains currently serve in the military, endorsed by a multitude of faiths, including Christian, evangelical Protestant, Jewish and Muslim denominations. It's a unique culture where chaplains of various beliefs serve alongside one another counseling and caring for an equally diverse congregation of armed service members.

"Some of the most intense and sharpest divergence of views about Don't Ask, Don't Tell exists among the chaplains," states the Pentagon report, released last week, on the potential impact of repealing the policy. The report concludes that allowing openly gay or lesbian troops to serve in the military would have little lasting impact on the U.S. armed forces.

Read the full story on CNN.com/Politics.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: DC • Military • United States

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Dawn

    (1) Despite their oppression by some, the percentage of gay soldiers who are Christian is the same as the percentage of straight soldiers who are Christian. Jesus loves and comforts all people who sincerely seek Him. There are a huge amount of gay Christians. Deal with it. (2) Military chaplains have to serve all soldiers, not just straight ones. If they can't there are lots of jobs where they do not have too and they should get one. We wouldn't accept a military chaplain who said "Muslims are going to hell" and wouldn't serve them. They have to follow their job description. (3) The most disturbing part of this online discussion is how people are not asking how they can ignore "Thou shall not kill." After the Holocaust and the Nuremberg Convention, it seems clear that one has to listen to a higher power than one's commanding officer. Are military chaplains really asking God if they should participate in an offensive war– an occupation?

    December 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  2. David Johnson

    @Military Chaplains

    Don't like your job – QUIT.


    December 7, 2010 at 8:51 am |
    • Keith

      This is a purge plain and simple. In the past, those purged were simply shot. Purging the military of Christians would create a godless, soulless military-one that in my opinion, would have no trouble firing on American citizens. (Anyone remember my discussion with 'Kate' awhile back?). The current regime wants them to quit. However, the military that will emerge from this purge, if it is successful, will have more "Gestapo" potential for the Hard Right. Is this what people really want? Not me. This is an example of demonic forces in high places at work. While the Chinese are popping ballistic missiles out of subs off our coast Mike Mullen is more concerned with getting the Christians out of the military and the g-a-ys in. Incredible.

      December 8, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  3. Edward Nashville, TN

    If all a gay person has to do is lie so they can serve, that means they are already serving you just don't know it. So dropping don't ask don't tell doesn't keep gays out, it simply allows them to reveal it. So either way they are serving and will continue to serve. To me this is all semantics.

    December 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Edward Nashville, TN

      I... think that their may be a 'bit' more to this than just a matter of 'semantics' don't ya' think -Ed...?

      There are tremendous ramifications concerning this situation that can and does affect them in different ways, other than the mere 'revealing' that they are gay, lesbian, etc... and serving in the military whether they repeal DADT or not.

      You might want to think about this a little more, and see if you can come up with at least one other reason how this might be affecting them. Just a thought...


      December 7, 2010 at 3:19 am |
  4. JohnQuest

    CW, if gays shouldn't serve in the military, maybe they shouldn't be in the same schools as "normal" people, or work in the same jobs or pay the same taxes or have the same police and Judaical protections or the right to vote or the right to live anywhere in the country they choose. In short maybe they shouldn't be citizens of this great nation.

    Wait a minute, since you and your bigoted friends aren't really talking about taking away citizenship from our gay brothers and sisters (it would be a civil war if you tried, I'm not gay and I would fight against you), how could you take away any of their "God" given rights as a citizen, you know the same "God" given rights that you and your patriotic friends enjoy (I am assuming that you and everyone else that feels like you have served our great country in uniform just like me and my gay brothers and sister have done, are doing and will do).

    December 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  5. JohnQuest

    What I don't get is, how are things going to change for the clergy? There have always been gays in the military, there have always been an "understanding" that conversations between clergy and troops were confidential and could not be used against the trooper, so how is this going to be different?

    December 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  6. Reality

    Hmmm lets see, in g-ay se-xual activity, who plays the guy and who plays the gal? Who is on top and who is on the bottom? A coin flip? To say the least, an unusual situation. Then there are those "made in China" toys/strap-ons. Lets hope the FDA has checked them for lead and other toxic components. And do said "toys" come with sanitizers and/or sterilization instructions.

    Lots and lots of "ga-ys" doing their hot and heavy things on Internet tube sites but nothing about coin flipping, who is on first, and sanitizers sites?? There must be some "Gaying It For Dummies" books out there somewhere. Hmmm, I wonder if said books/sites have to have FDA and CDC approval??

    Is said activity wrong and worthy of a trip to hell? Of course not but to the general heteros-exual population it is yucky, unusual and not normal to them. With that mind set, approval by the majority is not always sanctioned in law.

    The general population to include many of the voters in California, rightly or wrongly, find g-ay se-xual activities, unionized or not, to be "yucky" and unusual and typically associate such activity with the spread of AIDS which is of course wrong. Said A-IDS epidemic in the g-ay male community at the start of the AI-DS crises will always remain unfortunately a stigma on the g-ay community.

    Impressive list of g-ay people who did not let their yucky defect get in the way of being a contribution to society.

    From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual masturbation caused by one or more complex se-xual defects. Some defects are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell. Of course not all having these abnormal tendencies, show it outwardly.

    Then there is the "group showering" problem in basic training!!!!

    December 6, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Frogist

      I can't believe I'm actually posting a reply... *face palm*
      Nobody need play the guy or gal. There are tops and bot-toms who stick to their position, and there are people who like to switch it up a bit. Much like straights do. Esp if you're into pegging. You could play it with a coin toss but I hear se-x di-ce are much more fun. As for strap-ons, do-ngs and other pene-tratable toys, there are many concerns over the kinds of material that make up these toys. Generally you want to buy some kind of non-porous silicone product that will not hold bacteria or leech plastics. They require little care, are durable, and with an occasional go thru the dishwasher or hot water treatment, are easily and thoroughly cleaned. When sharing at a party or otherwise, it's best to clean with use of alcohol wipes or other sterilization washes. But as with most se-xual encounters, protection is the key and a cond-om is the best solution. There are many reputable areas to find se-x advice, but Violet Blue is the absolute diva of all toy knowledge.
      Less and less straights are weirded out by gay activities lately. And let's face it, it's just the gay males that most people have objections too. Very few red-blooded american guy guys would turn down a threes-ome with Katy Perry and Scarlet Johanssen.
      As for the "maleness" of Ellen De Generes et al or the femaleness of Jude Law... oops not gay (yeah right)... it matters not. Women have always had observers decide who is more feminine (read pretty) and who is less. But throw some makeup on anyone and they can look girly. You can bu-tch up someone too if that is what you want. It doesn't mean you can tell who is or isn't gay just by looking (Rock Hudson) unless you have exceptional ga-ydar.
      As for group showers? I hear it saves water!

      December 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
    • Peace2All



      December 7, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
    • Peace2All



      And... finally 'someone' responded to our dear friend Reality's cut/paste on gay s-e-x. LOL–Frogist... Love it...! 🙂

      You rock...! Oh, and you too Reality... this blog would not be... well... the same without ya'...!


      December 8, 2010 at 2:10 am |
  7. GSA

    @Let Us Prey – very well said, couldn't agree more with your statement.

    December 6, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  8. CW

    I agree with all the military chaplains that serve. It is a disgrace to be in our military and be g-a-y. If it were me....I believe that they shouldn't be allowed serve. They(g-a-y) people need to first repent....follow GOD then serve in the military. I know this sounds bad but I would rather them not serve and have the chance to repent and change their heart and ways than die on the battle field with no chance to repent and go to hell.

    December 6, 2010 at 11:36 am |
    • civilioutside

      Your position amounts to saying that only practicing Christians should be allowed to serve in the US military. The US Consti-tution disagrees with you.

      December 6, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So, in your opinion no sinners should be allowed to serve in the military?
      Do you believe it to be disgraceful for non-christians to wear the uniform?

      December 6, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I've a hypothetical question for you.
      Let's say that you are a god fearing, repentant, pious christian infanteer and your commanding officer orders you to fire on the enemy.
      Which loyalty takes precedence? Do you fulfill your oath to serve your country and try to kill your target, or does your duty as a christian to obey the ten commandments (specifically the injunction against killing) win out?

      December 6, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • CW

      @ Doc,

      on your question....first let me say in the BIBLE there were battles...wars...if have you that there was killing involved. So I would obey my commanding officer. In essence your trying to tangle someone doesn't work.

      Secondly....I know your and your dear daddy are one of those "we hang out and enjoy the company of g-a-y people". Yes...your still sinning...until you deny yourself take up a real relationship with God your still going to walk in darkness.

      December 6, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I see – so the ten commandments are not hard a fast rules.
      It's ok to kill so long as somebody else, like God or your C.O., tells you to.
      How about if your sergeant orders you to sacrifice a goat to Baal?
      And you didn't answer my prior question – is it shameful for non christians to serve in the military?

      December 6, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hi CW...

      You Said: "I agree with all the military chaplains that serve."

      When you say you 'agree' with 'all' the military chaplains, what exactly are you agreeing with them about...?

      You Said: "It is a disgrace to be in our military and be g-a-y."

      How is it a 'disgrace' specifically...? As I understand it there are many who have lost their lives in battle, and have served our country well. There is no evidence to suggest that they are any less competent, loyal, or in actuality in any way a negative to our armed forces, nor to our country, and the rest of the world. They are people too; just like...'you.' Some may even be nicer, kinder, more loving and caring human beings than you. For all we know, you 'could' be a terrible person.

      You might want to re-think your position on this...yes...? Just a thought...

      You Said: " If it were me....I believe that they shouldn't be allowed serve. They(g-a-y) people need to first repent....follow GOD then serve in the military. I know this sounds bad but I would rather them not serve and have the chance to repent and change their heart and ways than die on the battle field with no chance to repent and go to hell." 😯

      Well, thanks for being so kind as to care for their immortal souls. So, here again, we have what is known, at times as 'christian logic' or 'reasoning.'

      So, basically in this last part your statement, you, by *inference,* basically are saying that anyone who has "not repented" shouldn't serve in the military. Is that what you really meant to say...? Because that is how your statement reads. So, that would mean we should only have 'born again' 'perfect' Christians in our military...? Let's forget the gay's for now. What about the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, etc...?

      O.K... -CW, what's up...? I've got to know your thinking on this. Hope you come back to answer.


      December 7, 2010 at 1:44 am |
    • CW

      @ Doc,

      First let me say....I hope that there are not many non christians serving in the military b/c if they die and don't get saved then they will be doomed. Yes I would say it is a shamefull thing to serve and not be a christian b/c God is the one that gives us all the abilities to do what we do.

      Also let me say...way of base....with your goat speech. I know you don't believe so that is your choice. One day you'll get your chance to explain yourself. Hope you repent before that but if you don't....I will have a ring side seat to watch you explain things...that will be hard to watch b/c it will be too late.

      @ Peace2all
      Yes....I know what your saying and for me...yes I would love it if all our troops were christians. Then you wouldn't have the foot hood or all the other things that go on in the military b/c they would put God first.

      December 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
  9. NL

    I remember that this basic issue came up a couple of years ago concerning chaplains for humanists and atheists. Similar talking points were made as to how chaplains could serve non-believers whom they see as sinners. The conclusion was that any given chaplain could technically see anyone from another religious tradition, or a non-believer, as a sinner as well, yet they couch their language so as not to be judgmental because creating tension and mistrust between corps members was counterproductive.

    Why can't chaplains simply treat gays as they would members from another religious, or non-religious, tradition?

    December 6, 2010 at 11:24 am |
  10. Frogist

    So the soldiers don't care but the chaplains are raising a fuss? I thought they were there to serve the soldiers not proselytize their views. If they can't do that without prejudice against gays, then who needs them?

    December 6, 2010 at 8:34 am |
  11. TheRationale

    Religion is clinging to the heels of social progress as always.

    December 5, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
    • ActiveDuty

      @ Let us Pray
      I dont disagree with you on some of your points but the very last... You are right the military comes first, but you forget that what they do in the miltary is their life, their job.... Thats why there are Chaplains for all denominations... I am meet Wiccan Chaplains who have held religous services for Wiccans. Point being thier point of views that follow their Religions are their own.... At the same time, a chaplain has an obligation to their respective denomination.... So if that soilder/sailor/airman/marine were gay and went to their Chaplain then yes you are right, they have to service them in whatever way a Chaplain does to a hurting soul.

      December 7, 2010 at 6:48 am |
  12. Let Us Prey

    @ All Military Chaplains

    Easiest problem of the day...

    Everyone in the armed services are willing to lay down their lives.... and you need to respect this. If not, you should go back to the civilian world where you can practice as you wish and honor instead the precious 'restrictions' of your respective denomination. If you're a 'conflicted' military chaplain... you should leave the military. Please set your priorities accordingly.

    December 5, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
    • Humble

      I agree with this comment. While a chaplin's personal loyalties may be to their religion, their job in the military is to support the needs of the troops. Even if they consider the soldiers they work with the be sinners, the soldiers spiritial needs should take priority to a chaplin's personal spiritial goals. If they cannot do this, they should find another calling in their religion.

      December 5, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Let Us Prey

      Well Said...


      December 7, 2010 at 1:26 am |
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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.