By Michael F. Haverluck
In a new recruiting ad for television, the U.S. Navy reinforces its commitment to the "fair treatment of all," an apparent promotion of the new military policy of welcoming service members who openly declare themselves to be homosexual.
The ad, some critics fear, is further indication there will be no smooth sailing for service members who are at odds with the U.S. military's adoption of socially progressive policies.
Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, is one of many who are asking whether Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama's leading role in repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in September 2011 will present a dilemma for those who oppose the policy but also vow to "obey the orders of those appointed over me."
That vow of obedience, along with the commitment to "fair treatment of all," are in the Sailor's Creed, which forms the text of the new Navy ad.
"It is our hope that this latest commercial is simply a restatement of commonly held military respect for authority and not an attempt to diminish the priority of allegiance to the Constitution over an unlawful command by a superior officer," Crews, a retired U.S. Army Reserves colonel, told WND.
The Sailors' Creed was modified in 1993 under President Bill Clinton, who, for the first time in U.S. history, allowed homosexuals in the military by signing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The current version of the creed, a slight modification of the 1993 version, was published in 1997.
Prior to 1993, the creed said:
I have chosen to serve in the United States Navy. America depends on my performance for her survival, and I accept the challenge to set my standards high, placing my country's well-being above self-interest. I will be loyal to my country, its Constitution and laws, and to my shipmates. I will be honest in my personal and professional life and encourage my shipmates to do the same. I will, to the best of my ability, do the right thing for its own sake, and I am prepared to face pain or death in defense of my country. I will be a professional, wearing my uniform with pride and accepting responsibility for my actions. I will set excellence as my standard and always strive for ways to make me a better sailor and my crew a better crew.
The newest text appears to give the orders of superiors the same weight as the U.S. Constitution and eliminates references to "responsibility" and doing "the right thing." Adding a reference to obedience to superiors, the second line now reads:
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
In its entirely, it says now:
I am a United States Sailor. I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me. I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world. I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment. I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.
Fearing the the new policy on homosexuals will erode religious liberty, the chaplains alliance worked with other groups to draft a preventative measure in the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2013. The measure allows chaplains to practice their faith as they have since the nation's founding.
Section 533 of the bill reads:
No member of the Armed Forces may – (1) require a chaplain to perform any rite, ritual, or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain; or (2) discriminate or take any adverse personnel action against a chaplain, including denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment, on the basis of the refusal by the chaplain to comply with a requirement prohibited by paragraph.
Crews and his allies pleaded that all members of the armed forces should be extended religious freedoms.
"We had asked for language that included all service members, not just chaplains," Crews explained.
When President Obama signed the bill in January, however, he issued a signing statement that rejected the conscience provision, calling it "unnecessary and ill-advised." While the president doesn't have the power to veto particular sections of a bill, signing statements indicate how the administration interprets its duty to enforce the measure.
More than a decade before Clinton opened the door for homosexuals to enlist, the U.S. Department of Defense policy stated that homosexual behavior in the military poses a threat to the proper functioning of the armed forces and, therefore, national security.
"Homosexuality is incompatible with military service," the DOD stated in a regulation issued in 1981. "The presence in the military environment of persons who engage in homosexual conduct or who, by their statements, demonstrate a propensity to engage in homosexual conduct, seriously impairs the accomplishment of the military mission."
The 1981 regulation said the presence of homosexuals "adversely affects the ability of the armed forces to maintain discipline, good order, and morale; to foster mutual trust and confidence among service members; to ensure the integrity of the system of rank and command; to facilitate assignment and worldwide deployment of service members who frequently must live and work in close conditions affording minimal privacy; to recruit and retain members of the armed forces; to maintain the public acceptability of military service; and to prevent breaches of security."
Crews contends that the motivation behind the abrupt change in policy gave little thought to maintaining national security.
"The American armed forces exist to defend our nation, not as social experiment lab in which our troops serve as human subjects," Crews commented in a statement last September, one year after the DADT repeal. "While many will ignore the negative impacts, or pretend that they don't exist, threats to our troops' freedom are mounting."
And where will orders demanding adherence to military policy on homosexual behavior lead?
Donnelly pointed out that the failure to carry out directives pertaining to homosexuals has dire consequences.
"A [member of the] Coast Guard initially lost his job for merely inquiring about privacy," Donnelly said. "Military LGBT law works to stifle and end careers of those who disagree."
Is the military culture of obedience to orders being abused to forward a political agenda?
"Military culture has always been one of obeying orders, and soldiers have been ordered to abide by LGBT law," Donnelly explained. "Also, many troops who would have ordinarily left under such pretenses remain at their posts because of the declining economy and a lack of jobs out there."
Mirroring Donnelly's concerns, the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty wants to make sure that any new campaigns promoting the LGBT agenda and eroding religious liberty don't slip under its radar.
"We are concerned about any attempts to erode or prevent service members' ability to exercise their beliefs, even when those beliefs are contrary to current Department of Defense policy," Crews concluded. "We will defend the right of any service member to live out his/her faith."