First Liberty Institute continues its defense of Chaplain Modder, responds on behalf of client banned from ministering to sailors in his unit
Joining increasing public support—and the collective outcry for answers—on behalf of First Liberty Institute client, Chaplain Wes Modder, this week are 35 Members of Congress who sent a letter to Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, and Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, U.S. Navy, Chief of Chaplains.
Including J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), and John Fleming (LA-04), these 35 Members are holding the U.S. Navy’s feet to the fire regarding commanding officer Captain Jon R. Fahs’ unlawful punishment of Chaplain Modder after a very small number of sailors disagreed with the biblical views Chaplain Modder expressed in response to their questions during private counseling sessions.
“We are grateful that members of Congress would remind Captain Fahs of his constitutional obligation to provide for religious freedom,” said Mike Berry, First Liberty Institute Senior Counsel and Director of Military Affairs. “Chaplains exist to provide the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious free exercise. It’s clear these elected officials appreciate the vital role of our chaplains in preserving religious liberty.”
Captain Fahs launched a three-prong attack against Chaplain Modder, requesting the highly-decorated chaplain be removed from the promotion list, “detached for cause” (the military equivalent of being fired), and brought before an official Board of Inquiry, where he could be involuntarily forced out of the Navy.
In response, First Liberty Institute demanded that the Navy rescind all three threats and also requested religious accommodation on Chaplain Modder’s behalf. Captain Fahs denied the request for religious accommodation and issued a “no contact” order—the military version of a restraining order which forbids Chaplain Modder from counseling or ministering to members of his unit.
LETTER TO THE U.S. NAVY: PROTECT YOUR CHAPLAINS
In light of Navy’s treatment of Chaplain Modder—which violates military regulations, federal law, and the Constitution—the Members of Congress strongly urged Secretary Mabus and Admiral Kibben to protect the religious liberty rights of not only Chaplain Modder, but all of the military’s chaplains who have put their lives on the line to minister to the spiritual needs of service members.
In their letter, they make these crucial points:
SUPPORT INTENSIFIES, MEDIA COVERAGE GROWS
The coalition of Congress members have requested: Information about the accusations against Chaplain Modder and that investigations will be conducted according to laws that protect chaplains’ rights, confirmation that the Navy is pursuing enforcement of policies and protections already in place for service members and chaplains, and assurance that conscience protections passed by Congress are being implemented.
Another key public official who has voiced concern this week is Representative Doug Collins (R-GA), who previously supported First Liberty Institute client, Chaplain (Captain) Joseph “Joe” Lawhorn, whose religious liberty rights were violated by the U.S. Army. Because of his role as a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve, Rep. Collins understands the value of military religious freedom and strongly urged Navy Secretary Mabus, in a separate letter, that he has “questions about the important issue of officers respecting the sacred trust of confidentiality that exists between chaplains and service members.”Rep. Collins went on to ask if the Navy investigated how Chaplain Modder’s private, confidential communications were obtained, and whether any regulations that protect confidentiality were violated.
Additionally, media coverage has continued to keep the story alive, including Fox News contributor Todd Starnes’ “Fox Nation’s The Dispatch” video report: “Lawmakers defend chaplain accused of being anti-gay.”(Starnes previously wrote about the matter in three columns: “Navy bans chaplain from ministering to family of dead sailor”, ”Former SEALs chaplain could be kicked out of Navy for Christian beliefs” and “More than 40,000 rally for Navy chaplain accused of being anti-gay.”)
ADD YOUR VOICE IN PROTEST AND SUPPORT
An easy, yet effective way people can help support Chaplain Modder—and speak out against threats against him by the U.S. Navy—is by signing First Liberty Institute’s “Stop the Unlawful Action Against Chaplain Wes Modder, An American Hero!” Petition.
With more than 10,000 signatures collected to date, the petition sends a clear, powerful message to the Secretary of the Navy that Americans are alarmed and outraged,and they demand that Chaplain Modder be allowed to continue his invaluable work of meeting the spiritual needs of service members in his care.
Please click here if you would like to give a donation to help defend and restore religious freedom.
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.FirstLiberty.org.