Woke Ideology Will Crush the Chaplain Corps, One of America’s Most Revered Military Institutions

July 30, 2021
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by Marlee Tomlinson • 5 min read

This week, America observes and celebrates the 246th anniversary of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps.

During the War of Independence, General George Washington knew the battlefront would take a big toll on the troops of the Continental Army physically, but even more so spiritually. He knew they needed the moral strength to persevere when the odds were ever against them.

So, Washington requested military chaplains to serve alongside troops and minister to their spiritual needs as an official part of the army. On July 29, 1775, Congress granted Washington’s request, and the Chaplain Corps was born. They have continued to serve as a vital part of our military, attending to the spiritual, emotional, and even physical well-being of the troops.

But even as millions of Americans pay tribute to the heritage and legacy of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps—a military institution older than both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence—there are some Pentagon officials more focused on pushing political agendas than on protecting the First Amendment rights of our service members.

Political correctness, censorship and the toxic cancel culture continue to infiltrate and spread inside America’s military. Within the past year alone, we’ve seen an alarming surge of anti-religious bias and censorship against military chaplains and service members who express or live out their religious beliefs.

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A Woke Military = A Weak Military

If the wokeness narrative persists, it would have alarming consequences for people of faith in the military. We could witness a day where service members are forced to choose between their religious beliefs or serving their country. And considering that approximately seventy percent (70%) of our military members identify as people of faith, our national security could face a devastating hit.

In recent months, the dangerous “woke” ideology has proved to be nearly destructive, to the point where people of faith are labeled as “extremists” and even issued career-threatening punishments just for peacefully acting in accordance with their religious convictions.

Recall the recent example of First Liberty’s client, Andrew Calvert, a decorated Army Chaplain of sixteen years who recently used his personal social media account to express support for then-existing DOD policy banning those diagnosed with gender dysphoria from serving in the military (in keeping with his religious beliefs).

Because he expressed his own religious point of view on a private page, the Army investigated him and threatened disciplinary action that would have effectively ended his career. The good news is that earlier this month First Liberty successfully reclaimed Chaplain Calvert’s rights and helped him save his career.

But just as First Liberty defended Chaplain Calvert, our legal team has also represented and won on behalf of numerous chaplains facing discrimination in our military:

  • Navy Chaplain Wes Modder, former chaplain for Navy SEAL Team Six, nearly lost his job, pension and retirement benefits. Why? He answered questions about his church’s teaching on marriage in a private counseling session. First Liberty intervened, and Chaplain Modder was exonerated.
  • Army Chaplain Scott Squires was threatened with disciplinary action for declining to conduct a marriage retreat with same-sex couples, in keeping with his denomination’s doctrine. First Liberty’s legal intervention with the Army resulted in his exoneration.
  • Army Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn received a “Letter of Concern,” which threatened to end his career, all because he shared a personal religious testimony during a suicide prevention class. Thanks to First Liberty’s involvement, the Army agreed to remove the letter from Chaplain Lawhorn’s file.

Army chaplains are one of the most essential elements in our military, the very ones who pray over our fallen heroes and minister to those who live to fight another day. They’re the ones who provide comfort in the most difficult of times and the ones who come under attack every day for living out their very job description.

In an article written for First Liberty Institute, Stephen C. Drum, Retired U.S. Navy SEAL Master Chief, said it best:

“Those who serve in the military need to be strong in body, mind and soul to face the challenges on the battlefield, as well as the adversity life often brings. When the tough times come, and they always do, military chaplains help many of our service members lean into their faith and their relationships. They are a critical part of our armed forces, providing the source of strength to keep America’s military warriors spiritually tough.”

The bottom line is this: a woke military is a weak military. Wokeism won’t make our service members more prepared for war, but rather it will only sow division and undermine the vital role that faith, religious freedom and chaplains have played in our country for nearly 250 years.

Wokeism is a devastating distraction, taking America’s eyes off its real enemies who pose real threats and redirecting vital energy and attention to an ideological cold war within. And if it’s not put to a stop, we could see one of the greatest fighting forces and countries in all of history fall like Rome…one chaplain at a time.

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