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Navy Chaplain’s Religious Freedom Battle Ends with Honorable Discharge and a Medal

Chaplain Wes Modder receives commendation medal from the Navy at his official retirement ceremony aboard the USS Midway

September 29, 2016

San Diego – On September 6, Chaplain Wes Modder received his honorable discharge and a medal of commendation from the Navy. For the past two years, Modder, a decorated Navy chaplain and former Marine, was at the center of a religious freedom firestorm that caught the attention of national political leaders and media. At his retirement, his twenty-one-year career ended in victory.

“I am so honored and humbled to have had the privilege of serving my country for the past twenty years,” Chaplain Wes Modder says. “After such a difficult season, I am grateful to retire from the US Navy with a clear and honorable record.”

Modder, who served as Force Chaplain for Navy Special Warfare Command, came under fire after a few sailors objected to the biblical views Modder expressed during private counseling sessions. In response, the Navy removed Modder from his unit and threatened to end his career.

First Liberty Institute defended Modder, escalating the case to the highest levels of Naval command, resulting in the Navy clearing Modder of all charges and restoring him to full service.

In an official retirement ceremony held aboard the USS Midway, Modder was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and received his honorable discharge.

Modder’s law firm, First Liberty Institute, believes Chaplain Modder’s success in defending his right to express his religious beliefs sets a positive precedent for the rights of all service members.

“Chaplain Modder’s victory was a not just a victory for him, but for everyone who serves in our military,” Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, says.

Modder, who has been hired as the Lead Pastor of Stone Church in Chicago, is excited about the next season of his life journey, saying, “I look forward to continuing to follow God’s calling to champion the cause of religious liberty for every American.”


About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Kassie Dulin, Director of Legal Communications for First Liberty Institute. Email:, Direct: 972-941-9575, Cell: 214-542-4334.


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