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-Letter From Congress: Chaplain Punished for Giving Biblical Guidance?

by Dr. D ~ February 13th, 2015


A Letter sent to the Secretary of the Army from 24 US Senators and Representatives complained that a chaplain was wrongly disciplined for giving spiritual and Biblical guidance:

"We are concerned that this disciplinary action violated First Amendment free speech protection that are undergirded by state reflected in the FY2013 and FY2014 NDAAs, along with the accompanying DoD regulations…"

"In fulfilling his duties as chaplain, Captain Lawhorn shared both his personal struggle with depression as well as biblical references and materials in accordance with the views of his endorsing agency and complementary to personal convictions."

The lawmakers said that they have not received any indication from the Army that Lawhorn’s religious freedom rights were protected, and asked for a review of the incident in relation to federal law and Army policy.

<Read the whole article>

Response: In December, U.S. Army Chaplain Capt. Joseph "Joe" Lawhorn received a letter from a superior reprimanding him for sharing his faith and Biblical references during suicide prevention training class. Incredibly this is what military chaplains are actually paid to do and have been doing in the American military for over 200 years.

In a testimony before Congress, Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, poignantly stated that chaplains should not be punished for doing their jobs:

"Army health experts and the American Association of Suicidology recognize spiritual health as an important part of battling depression and suicide, Disciplining Chaplain Lawhorn for doing what he was supposed to do is not only a disservice to this honorable officer, but to the soldiers he serves."

"Regrettably, military chaplains have been increasingly under fire simply for fulfilling their important and time-honored role in supporting our service members. This is just one more incident that sets a bad precedent, effectively gagging chaplains and keeping service members from getting the support they need."

The present administration has created an environment where chaplains are now being questioned and disciplined for doing their jobs. A new trend seems to have been fostered by this administration to change the role of chaplains to that of ‘secular’ counselors rather than fulfilling their traditional role of supporting service members as ministers of the faith.             *Top

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