Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Religious Liberty

Tony Perkins, the head of the irony-riddled Family Research Council, whines that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will restrict religious liberty.

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.”

As opposed to the myths that some supernatural being created the universe in six days and all life on earth began six thousand years ago under the watchful eyes of two naked people and a talking snake?

True to form, Mr. Perkins is unable to actually cite any “mountain of evidence” — although I’m sure he can probably make it up as he does with most of his dubious statistics. But what he’s truly fighting for is the right for some chaplains in the service to preach gay-bashing.

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?

For one thing, not all religious denominations are as narrow-minded as Mr. Perkins would have them be; many, including those who fill the ranks of chaplains, see human relationships in the broader and more spiritual context than those who are obsessed with sex. Second, chances are that a gay soldier isn’t going to seek out counseling from a chaplain that he knows is openly hostile to him based on his sexual orientation. And third, “religious liberty” does not extend to preaching bigotry and hatred against a certain group of people. As Capt. Fogg, my colleague at The Reaction points out, desegregating the troops in 1948 by President Truman meant that certain chaplains had to get over their practice of preaching racial intolerance.

The bible is full of patriarchal lessons about the inferiority of women, the benefits of slavery, and the open encouragement of stoning people to death for the way they plant their crops. I am pretty sure that the chaplains who follow those beliefs had to dial it back when the WAC’s were brought into the service or draftees showed up from the farm fields of Kansas. If those chaplains managed to make the adjustment for those transgressors, I’m sure they’ll be able to make it for the gays and lesbians. After all, they’re serving now and have been since Alexander rode side-saddle across Persia. And if they can’t, both the military and the chaplaincy would be better off without them.