Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010
An article in the Catholic News Agency (reproduced to the right) is one of many reactions to the announcement that President Obama wants to move forward in repealing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in the military. This one caught our eye because it relates to chaplains. It reports that the Alliance Defense Fund has warned that a repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ could end up censoring the religious expression of chaplains and marginalize chaplains whose faith condemns homosexuality.
This is not the first time similar concerns have been raised regarding military chaplains, who on a daily basis negotiate the roles of clergy and officers, mandated from their institutions to represent their faith groups while being paid by the State and subject to military authority.
Reading this article makes us want to hear chaplains and troops weigh in rather than the pundits, lawyers or even documentary filmmakers and journalists. None of us are, after all, in the fray.
So if you are a chaplain or a service woman or man reading this, consider this an invitation to comment. Were we sitting with you, these are some of the questions we would ask:
do you consider that by lifting restrictions on homosexuals the military would be promoting homosexuality, as the articles implies?
do you feel that, were ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ to be repealed that you would be censured in your ministry? Do you feel that preaching against homosexuality from the pulpit would be destructive to unit cohesion? Any more than, say, preaching that non-Christians are eternally damned? Does the subject of homosexuality come up often in religious services? Would it come up more often if the policy were repealed?
Have you had troops tell you in confidence that they were homosexual? If so, how did you minister to them?
As we said, these are just some of the questions that come to mind — we wrote them down as guides. Anything you have to say on the subject interests us. Because, if as citizens we are to raise our voices on the subject, we would like to be informed by your insights and your experience.