A military investigator has doubled down on his demands that a Christian chaplain be punished over a dispute involving two lesbians who insisted on attending a marriage seminar he was teaching.
The investigator released the recommendation months ago, but when challenged by First Liberty Institute, which represents the chaplain, he was ordered to investigate more.
Now he’s released the same conclusion, even though the army requires the chaplain to follow the rules of his endorsing organization, the Southern Baptist Convention, and he immediately tried to reschedule a seminar with a facilitator who would accept the lesbian couple.
The lesbians, however, decided they didn’t want to go to the seminar anyway and dropped out.
WND reported on the first recommendation of the investigator in the case against Chaplain Jerry Squires, a major, in April.
At the time, when punishment was recommended for Squires, Michael Berry, deputy general counsel for First Liberty, told Col. William Rice in a letter: “Our desire is to resolve this amicably, and I am willing to discuss this matter in person, if necessary. Should you deny this request, however, we are prepared to take the necessary legal action to vindicate [Chaplain Maj. Scott] Squires’ legal rights.”
Rice is chief of the Special Warfare Education Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where an investigator recommended discipline against Squires.
The dispute began when a soldier in a same-sex relationship demanded to participate in a “strong bonds” seminar Squires was scheduled to facilitate. She made the demand after the registration deadline had passed. Squires explained that military law requires him to follow the doctrines of his endorsing organization, the Southern Baptist Convention, which forbids him from teaching marriage seminars to same-sex duos.
Squires wanted to help the soldier sign up for the next seminar, which was to be led by a chaplain who didn’t have the same restrictions.
Instead, the soldier insisted on attending Squires’ seminar. She raised such a ruckus, the seminar was rescheduled to accommodate her, depriving other soldiers who had registered of the opportunity to attend.
The soldier also complained of the chaplain’s actions, and an investigator suggested Squires be disciplined.
The discipline, however, would violate the military’s requirements that Squires follow the teachings of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, his endorsing organization.
The SBC states that “all ministries regarding human sexuality will reflect the historic, natural and biblical view of marriage as God’s life gift of ‘the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.'”
Further, the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act specifically forbids action against a chaplain for refusing to do something forbidden by his beliefs.
Now, the investigator has concluded his followup with the same recommendation, and First Liberty has repeated its warning.
The organization asked the military, in response to the latest recommendation, to disapprove of the report seeking punishment, and “ensure that any adverse or unfavorable information relating to the … complaint is not included in CH Squires’ service record.”
“The United States Army, acting under the command of Major General Sonntag, is threatening to punish one of its chaplains because he followed the rules,” Berry said. “The Army, or Congress, must hold Major General Sonntag accountable for allowing this aggressive anti-religious hostility against its military chaplains to occur under his command.”
Squires said: “I simply did what I’m required to do under Army regulations and my endorser’s rules. I am shocked that I would even be investigated, let alone threatened with punishment, for following the rules.”
Berry said Sonntag “must immediately reject this investigation, if any chaplain under his command is to have the confidence that he or she will be protected when following military policy.”
“No chaplain should face the specter of a court martial and military prison for following the rules of their faith and the Army.”