The Southern Baptist Convention, the Roman Catholic Church and other conservative denominations have threatened Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Obama to withdraw their endorsements for military chaplains if "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is repealed, reports the Associated Press.
"In the Army, the U.S. military's largest branch, the largest denomination is the Southern Baptist Convention, with roughly 450 active chaplains. Next is the Roman Catholic Church, with 270, followed by chaplains from the Full Gospel Pentecostal church; Presbyterian and Reformed churches; and Assemblies of God. A spokeswoman for the Pentagon said chaplains must have the endorsement of their church or religious organization to serve the role. If a chaplain's church withdraws its endorsement, the military begins processing the chaplain to leave the military.
"Several denominations have already threatened to take such a step, citing long lists of potential conflicts the chaplains could face with openly gay soldiers. The Southern Baptist Convention, the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church in America, the Presbyterian Church in America, and the Rabbinical Alliance of America have issued statements or written to the Obama administration this year with their concerns that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" could force their chaplains to choose between serving God and serving the military.
"The Orthodox Church in America, for example, condemns homosexuality and mandates that the appropriate action its ministers should take toward gay people who seek counseling is to steer them to repent and renounce the gay lifestyle. 'If such an attitude were regarded as 'prejudice' or the denunciation of homosexuality as 'hate language,' or the like, we would be forced to pull out our chaplains from military service,' the church informed the Pentagon in May."
The Defense Department says chaplains' religious beliefs "and their need to express them" will be respected.
Several dozen retired military chaplains are echoed the fear-mongering. Sixty-five retired military chaplains have signed a letter urging President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to keep "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The retired chaplains say that serving both God and the armed forces "will become impossible" for those whose faiths consider homosexuality a sin.
"[It's] absolutely stunning that church leaders would actually end their relationships with the Pentagon over this," notes AMERICABlog's Joe Sudbay. "It shines a light on just how rabidly these anti-gay religions are. Now, the gay community is used to this crap. But, that they're willing to give up on the U.S. military is beyond the pale."
Apparently for some religions, hating gays and lesbians takes precedence over ministering and feeding the soul.