Barack Obama's criticism of congressional efforts to protect the faith-based values of military chaplains is disturbing on many levels, charges the Center for Military Readiness, a non-partisan public policy organization that supports the U.S. military services.
The organization, long concerned about the rising violence in a military forced to adopt a social agenda that includes the promotion of homosexuality, noted Obama's response to a congressional strategy to protect the conscience-based decisions of military chaplains.
The bill makes it illegal to "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 to "discriminate or take any adverse personnel action against a chaplain, including denial of a promotion, school, training or assignment" because the chaplain refused to violate his or her religious beliefs.
Advertisement - story continues below
The congressional action was deemed essential because of Obama's success in removing the longstanding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy from the U.S. military. Not only are homosexuality and other "philias" allowed, but they are openly promoted within the ranks. As a result of Obama's campaign, same-sex marriages are now considered appropriate, and military chaplains fear they will be ordered to participate.
When Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013, which includes the provisions, he blasted both Congress and chaplains.
"Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members," he wrote in a signing statement that accompanied the legislation.
He said he would not pay much attention to it.
Advertisement - story continues below
"My administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that," he declared.
He said he would make certain the conscience protections do not produce any discriminatory results.
"The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct," Obama wrote.
In an analysis of the president's statements, CMR said Obama's "gratuitous objections indicate that he continues to be primarily concerned about the small minority of professed LGBT personnel, with little regard for the majority of military chaplains and people of faith who serve."
"Despite the president's comments, chaplains will have a statutory basis to oppose directives that violate their religious principles. The statutory provision also will give support to chaplains who face disciplinary actions related to LGBT law," the group said.
Advertisement - story continues below
CMR said it worked with others to try to incorporate into the law a protection for the "constitutional rights of religious liberty in all branches of the service."
"It is not surprising however, that President Barack Obama criticized the measure in a January 2 signing statement. The president's imperious comments suggest that the administration might try to redefine or circumvent the law with enforcement regulations contrary to the intent of Congress," CMR warned.
Obama did not object to the legislation formally when it was before the House/Senate conference last month.
In a commentary on WND, R. Neil Farrar, an independent writer, concluded Obama's goal "is not only to legalize [homosexual behavior], but to inflict terror into the hearts and minds of conservatives and Christians who would dare stand in their way."
Advertisement - story continues below
"For years now, our government has used the military as a testing ground for social experiments. This latest change is one of the most nefarious to date, and it is certainly an averment of how out of touch our nation's leaders are with the American people; perhaps it is simply evidence of how much they no longer care!" he wrote. "The abrogation of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy (DADT) will infinitely impact a chaplain's capability to provide worship and counseling services to those who are now open with their lifestyle by attenuating effective ministry, muting morality and, finally, creating in them fear of reprisal."
He said even though it is the role of an evangelical Christian chaplain is to be a prophetic voice, or proclaim the truth, "the repeal of DADT will greatly neuter the chaplain's ability and authority to do exactly that concerning homosexuality."
He continued: "What is at stake today in our military is the religious freedom of our chaplains to minister in accordance with their faith and tenets. A chaplain is the moral conscience of their command, and [repealing DADT] will simply ensure that their voices will be squelched."
Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, recently documented that the Department of Defense decided to let military chaplains perform same-sex marriages in states where they are legal.
But she also reported that such a ceremony was performed in Louisiana, a state where same-sex marriage remains illegal.
In a letter to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she said, "It is not the role of Congress to resolve religious issues, but the problem here has been caused by the Pentagon's circumvention of the Defense of Marriage Act, and by the lack of protection for the rights of conscience and religious liberty in the repeal legislation.
"The incident calls into question claims that LGBT law has been universally accepted and smoothly implemented," she continued. "The Pentagon is not recognizing or admitting problems because there is no way that military people can express their concerns on matters such as this."
WND earlier reported that a chaplain's organization had released a list of discriminatory actions against chaplains who subscribe to a biblical view of homosexuality.
Incidents documented by officials with Chaplain Alliance include:
- Two airmen were publicly harassed in a post exchange food court as they were privately discussing their concerns.
- A chaplain was encouraged by military officials to resign his commission unless he could "get in line with the new policy."
- A commander refused to take disciplinary action over a male service member who "sexually harassed" another male service member, "through text messages, emails, phone calls and in person confrontations, insisting the two would 'make a great couple.'"
- Senior military officials have allowed personnel in favor of repeal to speak to media while those who have concerns have been ordered to be silent.
- Service members engaged in homosexual behavior protested a service school's open doors policy for all students that prohibited the closing of room doors for sexual purposes. The protesters were upset because they claimed that they had a right to participate in sexual behavior with their same-sex roommates.
- A senior chaplain was stripped of his authority over the chapel under his charge because, in accordance with federal law, he proclaimed the chapel as a "sacred space" where marriage or marriage-like ceremonies would only be between one man and one woman.
- Same-sex ceremonies have been performed at military chapels, including one at Fort Polk, La., a state that constitutionally defines marriage as one man and one woman.
- The Navy has allowed sailors openly engaged in homosexual behavior to choose their bunkmates.
"This list of problems and incidents that have arisen mere months after this administration imposed its will on the armed forces is disturbing to say the least, and we know it is only the beginning," said alliance spokesman Ron Crews. "Compounding the outrage, service members are not free to speak out about these matters. This ensures that distrust in the ranks will increase and morale will decrease as the number of silenced victims grows."
The Center for Military Readiness also previously reported a "chilling trend" in sexual assault in the military, documenting that the military itself confirmed that violent attacks and rapes, which includes male-on-male rapes, have nearly doubled since 2006, rising from 663 to 1,313 last year.
WND also reported the apparent manipulation of the data to promote the idea open homosexuality in the military was endorsed by the ranks. The manipulation was confirmed by the government itself, which in an inspector general's report marked "For Official Use Only" said numbers were combined to present the image that members of the military approved of Barack Obama's plan for open homosexuality.
It was the military's original and now-suspect report that famously was quoted as concluding 70 percent of the nation's military members believe the repeal of the long-standing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" practice of allowing homosexuals to serve as long as they kept their sexual lifestyle choices to themselves would have either "a neutral or positive impact on unit cohesion, readiness, effectiveness and morale."
However, the IG documents uncovered by Donnelly revealed the actual figures for military members were: those who believed the change would impact units "very positively" (6.6 percent), "positively" (11.8 percent), "mixed" (32.1 percent), "negatively" (18.7 percent), "very negatively" (10.9 percent) and "no effect" (19.9 percent).
The only way the 70 percent figure can be reached is to combine "very positively," "positively," "mixed" and "no effect." But this combination counts people with "neutral positions" as favoring the change, Donnelly said.
Donnelly explained that taking the same figures and putting them on the other side, that is, lumping them with "negatively" and "very negatively," would produce a total of almost 82 percent of the soldiers who believe the results of the change would be "negative or neutral."
The IG report uncovered by Donnelly said exactly that:
We considered that the primary source's likely pro-repeal sentiment was further demonstrated by his/her inclusion of the key 70 percent figure in the information provided to the Washington Post. … Had [the source] desired to further an anti-repeal bias for the article, he/she could likewise have combined four results categories from that same survey question to conclude that "82 percent of respondents said the effect of repealing the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy would be negative, mixed or no effect."
In one side effect that rebounded on the White House, a Senate committee, in an attempt to ensure the law conforms to Obama's new policy, voted to repeal the ban in the military on bestiality, an issue that White House press secretary Jay Carney didn't consider a serious question.
The Senate quickly backtracked when its work was revealed.
The report documents how the co-chairman of the commission working on the assessment of the impact on the military, Jeh Johnson, "read portions of 'an early draft' of the executive summary … to a former news anchor, a close personal friend visiting Mr. Johnson's home" three days before service members even were given the survey.
"Contrary to most news accounts, the Comprehensive Review Working Group process was not a 'study,'" Donnelly told WND. "Its purpose was to circumvent and neutralize military opposition to repeal of the law."
She described the study as "a publicly funded pre-scripted production put on just for show."
Donnelly said the report, completed April 8, 2011, "reveals improper activities and deception that misled members of Congress in order 'to gain momentum in support of a legislative change during the 'lame duck' session of Congress following the November 2, 2010, elections.'"
Donnelly explained that days before the survey was distributed, Johnson "was seeking advice from a 'former news anchor' on how to write the report's executive summary more 'persuasively.'"
Further, "The DoD IG report concluded that someone who 'had a strongly emotional attachment to the issue' and 'likely a pro-repeal agenda' violated security rules and leaked selected, half-true information to the Washington Post," she explained.