The Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, a group led by retired chaplains, and including members from many faiths represented in the military chaplaincy, responded to yesterday’s Southern Baptist Convention press release “correcting” the AP report of a chaplain attending a same-sex ceremony at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
“This attack by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) on a 20-year military chaplain doing his duty is unconscionable and an insult to service members,” said Colonel Paul Dodd, retired Army chaplain and co-chair of the Forum. “Apparently the SBC will not even allow their chaplains to observe from a distance when one of their troops gets married to a same-sex partner.”
The Associated Press article indicated that “Chaplains face few issues after DADT repeal,” in contrast to the dire predictions of some conservative religious organizations. Chaplain Tim Wagoner, an Air Force Chaplain of 20 years, was quoted in the article as “supporting the community” by looking on as one of his airman was wed to a same-sex spouse.
The former Chief of Army Chaplains, Douglas Carver, now head of Southern Baptist endorsed military chaplains, contacted this “offending” chaplain, demanding an explanation.
“The real agenda of these anti-gay groups is becoming clear: pounce on any chaplain willing to support his gay troops, even passively, and whip him back into line,” said Lt Col Henry Roberson, who served 30 years as a Catholic Army Chaplain. “The right of an Air Force Sergeant to honor his family, and the right of his senior chaplain to be present at the ceremony, are apparently less important than toeing the anti-gay line.”
Roberson added, “In compliance with my own faith tradition, I would not have performed the ceremony, but I certainly would have been present as Chaplain Wagoner was.”
“The action of Douglas Carver on behalf of the Southern Baptists is pure intimidation, intended to send a message to all chaplains endorsed by this denomination. We need to call these folks out for their divisive and bullying tactics, ” said Tom Carpenter, a former Marine, Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the co-chair of the Forum. “They’re trying to drive a wedge between service members, and that’s unacceptable.”
The Forum on the Military Chaplaincy is a group of retired chaplains, ministers, and military veterans, advocating for a pluralistic and professional Military Chaplaincy, committed to free and diverse religious expression, and to the sacred values of personal integrity, selfless compassion, respect for others, and excellence in leadership. The Forum has worked for several years, mostly behind the scenes, to fight the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy they consider harmful to the military and to religious freedom.
Source: Forum on the Military Chaplaincy