Republican-Led House Approves Amendment Banning Non-Religious Military Chaplains

Last month, Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) suggested an amendment (PDF) to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow Humanist, ethical culturist, or atheist chaplains in the Army Chaplains Corps:

The Secretary of Defense shall provide for the appointment, as officers in the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces, of persons who are certified or ordained by non-theistic organizations and institutions, such as humanist, ethical culturalist, or atheist.

The amendment made so much sense that, of course, Republicans were quick to condemn it:




There’s some first class ignorance for you:

They don’t believe anything,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) “I can’t imagine an atheist accompanying a notification team as they go into some family’s home to let them have the worst news of their life and this guy says, ‘You know, that’s it — your son’s just worms, I mean, worm food.’”

“This I think would make a mockery of the chaplaincy,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). “The last thing in the world we would want to see was a young soldier who may be dying and they’re at a field hospital and the chaplain is standing over that person saying to them, ‘If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future.’”

You can see the full debate on the issue in my previous post.

Needless to say, the amendment failed on a 43-18 vote.

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Why Can’t Jason Heap Become a Military Chaplain?

Jason Heap wants to become a chaplain in the U.S. Navy and he seems perfectly qualified to do so: He has two master’s degrees, passed his physicals, and completed the paperwork… but Kimberly Winston tells us that what he doesn’t have is the endorsement of a religious organization (***Edit***: I should say that he does have the endorsement of a religious group, just not one approved by the Navy):

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House Votes Down Amendment Allowing Non-religious Military Chaplains, but 150 Democrats Voted for It

Earlier this week, Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) put forth an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow for non-religious military chaplains:

The Secretary of Defense shall provide for the appointment, as officers in the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces, of persons who are certified or ordained by non-theistic organizations and institutions, such as humanist, ethical culturalist, or atheist.

Republicans (and some Democrats) in the House Armed Services Committee voted against the amendment 43-18 so it didn’t leave the committee.

That didn’t mean the end of the legislation, though. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) tried to get the amendment through without the support of the Committee:

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Conservative Media Claim ‘Persecution’ of Christians in the Military, but Actual Soldiers Call Bullshit

Shocking news. I hope you’re sitting down.

Being a conservative and a Christian marks you for persecution in today’s military.

So claims FOX News Radio journalist Todd Starnes. So says Master Sergeant Nathan Sommers, a member of the U.S. Army Band. And so parrots Ret. Navy Commander John Bennett Wells, who is representing Sommers:

[Wells] said there is no doubt in his mind that the U.S. military is discriminating against Christians — and specifically his client. ”There’s no question about it,” Wells told Fox News. “Because he is religious, because he feels that homosexual conduct is wrong for religious reasons, he is basically being persecuted.”

What got Sommers in hot water with his superiors? It wasn’t one thing in particular, but a string of behaviors, opinions, and utterances over time. For instance:

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House Republicans Denigrate Atheist Chaplains in Military, Saying They Would Make a ‘Mockery of the Chaplaincy’

In 2012, there were no chaplains for atheists in the military while Christians had all they needed and then some:

It’s long overdue, but non-religious chaplains had a chance to be included in the Army Chaplains Corps thanks to Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ).

Yesterday, Andrews (an Episcopalian) suggested an amendment (PDF) to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would bring Humanist, ethical culturist, or atheist chaplains to the military:

The Secretary of Defense shall provide for the appointment, as officers in the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces, of persons who are certified or ordained by non-theistic organizations and institutions, such as humanist, ethical culturalist, or atheist.

That’s an amendment that no reasonable person would object to.

So, of course, Republicans objected to it:

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