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Baptist Military Chaplains Banned From Officiating Same-Sex Weddings

U.S. Navy

Machinist's Mate (Nuclear) 2nd Class Jerrel Revel proposes to his boyfriend upon the return of the Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) from a scheduled 6-month deployment.

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — The Southern Baptist Convention, which provides the largest share of active-duty U.S. military chaplains, has barred members from performing gay marriages and taking part in counseling sessions and couples retreats for same-sex couples.

An arm of the group, the North American Mission Board, issued the decision in response to the Department of Defense recognizing same-sex marriages and extending benefits to gay spouses.

The decision highlights opposition among some religious groups to the momentum in the U.S. in favor of gay marriage.

A Defense Department spokesman did not immediately return a message.

The Pentagon said last month same-sex spouses of troops will be eligible for the same benefits as heterosexual spouses. The policy took effect Tuesday.

The military has 439 active-duty chaplains and 268 reserve-duty chaplains affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The military has a total of 2,884 active-duty chaplains, with another 2,375 in the reserves.

“Our chaplains want to uphold the authority and relevancy of Scripture while continuing to serve in a very diverse setting,” Doug Carver, a retired Army major general who leads NAMB’s chaplaincy efforts, said in a statement Aug. 29. “

Mike Ebert, a spokesman for the NAMB, said the Southern Baptist Convention spoke with defense officials before issuing the guidelines.

“We were getting questions from our chaplains, can you please clarify what we can and cannot do,” Ebert said.

The guidelines prohibit chaplains from supporting same-sex events, whether they are on or off a military base, if participation “gives the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle or sexual wrongdoing.”

Chaplains are expected to “treat all service members, regardless of rank or behavior, with Christ-centered dignity, honor and respect while assisting the institutional leadership in its religious mission requirements and responsibilities as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the guidance notes.

About 140,000 active-duty service members identify themselves as Baptists, with about 13,000 saying they are part of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | September 6, 2013 at 3:12 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

Muslims make up 20,000 members of our military. One point of contention is that some U.S. military commanders authorize women under their command to wear headscarf (the hijab, see avatar at left), while others don't. The first Muslim chaplain was commissioned in 1993 ~ before that, all 3,150 U.S. military chaplains were either Jews or Christians.

Capt. Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad, the first Muslim United States military chaplain, on Oct. 11, 2001 participated in a memorial service at the Pentagon for those killed in the 9/11 attack, reading from the Koran to the effect that there is no conflict between being a loyal soldier and a loyal Muslim: "The prophet said when we see evil action we are compelled to change it with our hand, challenge it with our tongue or at least hate it in our heart."

I think that we need to cut back on the 439 Baptist Chaplains -- straight away. I say this partly because I attended a service in the Chapel at Balboa Navy Hospital for Corpsman Benjamin D. Rast killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in a province which is 99.7 % Muslim. The Baptist chaplain kept emphasizing that the only way to heaven was through the Son.

In the United States Army, a corporal with less than two years of experience receives a monthly salary of more than $2,120. What's more, he or she becomes eligible for retirement under the provision of recent golden parachutes after 15 years of experience, at one-third pay. Not everyone makes it to retirement eligibility. According to the DoD, 47 percent of U.S. military officers remain in the service long enough to collect retirement. In the case of a chaplain, who may have a degree after spending only two years of education from a Southern Evangelical College, this could result in half pay plus additional income plus a second retirement decades of ministry before reaching age 62. People are living longer, too. As Allah has decided.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | September 7, 2013 at 9:02 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

If these people don't want to uphold the law and discriminate on their own dime then fine.

Strip them of any public funding or tax exemptions.


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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | September 7, 2013 at 9:03 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

If this group is not paying taxes, it's criminal.

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | September 9, 2013 at 10:03 a.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

If the Southern Baptist Convention is paying for the salaries of these military chaplains, then they should dictate what they can/can't do.

Otherwise, if these military chaplains are public servants (which includes gay and lesbian tax paying Americans) then they should obey the laws where it's legal to perform equal marriages.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 9, 2013 at 10:29 a.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

Richard Thompson, your first two paragraphs are interesting but your last one is off topic.

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