“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord … .”
– Psalm 33:12
If God is Lord of a nation, then that nation will obey His commands as articulated in Holy Scripture under direction of His Holy Spirit. The alternative will mean judgment and catastrophe upon its people. The alternative is precisely what America is doing on a number of levels. Our society – with government urgings, if not edicts – has been inundated with a worldview that rejects a Holy God and affirms that “man is the measure of all things.” The dismissal of America’s Judeo-Christian history has set the stage for a growing hostility toward Christianity. It encourages a disregard for the sanctity of life and is determined to redefine the meaning of marriage and family in deference to what God calls an abomination.
Seemingly entrenched in civilian society, this relentless irreligious and hedonistic movement is being forced upon the people entrusted with protecting our nation from all enemies, both foreign and domestic: the military. Discrimination against Christians within the military has increased for two decades. Witchcraft is now recognized as an acceptable practice and witches are given equal standing with chaplains. Homosexuality is being forced upon its ranks. The greatest military the world has ever seen risks becoming a dysfunctional social laboratory at a time when our nation is fighting two wars and is threatened by global terrorism.
Baptist Press did an outstanding job of documenting cases of discrimination against evangelical chaplains in the Air Force and Navy more than a decade ago. Evangelical chaplains, like Southern Baptists, were passed over for promotions. Meanwhile, chaplains from more liberal denominations, who did not emphasize Lordship salvation and discipleship, got them instead. In other cases evangelical chaplains were simply discharged when passed over for promotion. The problem seemed to reach critical mass by 1999 when 28 evangelical chaplains – including 11 Southern Baptists – filed a class-action lawsuit against the Navy, claiming the Navy restricted their free exercise of religion and unconstitutionally discriminated against them because of their beliefs and practices.
“If you want to pray in Jesus’ name, you’re not going to go very far,” Lieutenant Commander David Wilder, a Navy chaplain and 1980 graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press in April 2001. “If I have an altar call at the end of a service and invite people to come forward and accept Christ, that’s the kiss of death as far as advancement in the Chaplains Corps. If we preach that people have to accept Christ, they have a problem with that.”
Disturbed Southern Baptists reacted by overwhelmingly passing a resolution at their 2001 annual meeting, urging the Navy “to rectify past documented injustices” and to implement policies “to insure free religious practice of all military personnel.”
Let me say right here that our evangelical – and particularly Southern Baptist chaplains – are faithful in sharing Christ and are doing outstanding work. The Army’s Chief of Chaplains Gen. Douglas Carver is a Southern Baptist. They are a blessing to our troops and deserve our prayers and admiration. As bleak as the spiritual battle may look, we know in the end “the gates of Hell shall not prevail.”
Yet despite their efforts, signs of hostility toward Christianity persist. In 2005, an Air Force Academy graduate filed a federal lawsuit to halt proselytizing in the Air Force. Other complaints were logged against evangelical chaplains who prayed in Jesus’ name. The issue caught the attention of members of Congress, who wrote President Bush in October 2005, urging him to sign an executive order guaranteeing chaplains the right to pray in Jesus’ name. Navy Chaplain Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt caught news media attention when he went on a hunger strike in front of the White House during the 2005 Christmas season to draw attention to the crisis in the Navy.
In January 2006 reports surfaced concerning Army Chaplain Jonathan Sterzbaugh, who was serving in Iraq. Sterzbaugh said he was removed from preaching duties at chapel services because he had apparently prayed in Jesus’ name. He told The Washington Times that in a May 2005 speech at Fort Drum, N.Y., Army Lt. Col. Phillip Wright told the group that if anyone prayed in Jesus’ name, “I will crunch you.” Wright denied the accusation, but two other eyewitnesses confirmed Sterzbaugh’s account.
A memo from Maj. Gen. David Hicks, former chief of chaplains for the Army, in which Hicks said the definition of pluralism “sauggests that we fetter our own needs to enhance the needs of others. Therefore it is incumbent upon professional chaplains to understand the needs of the audience before which they pray. In public ceremonies the needs of the audience may need to be considered over the needs of the chaplain who stands as a representative of the command.”
Did you catch that? Chaplains are beholding to the command (in effect the general), not their ultimate commander, King Jesus. There used to be mutual respect in the military for various beliefs, but it seems the emphasis is now on not offending anyone. So much for the Gospel.
With increasing pressure from the conservative Christian community, Congress eventually passed legislation in October 2006 essentially ordering the services to allow chaplains to pray according to the dictates of one’s own conscience.
While that seemed to resolve one problem (it’s amazing that praying in Jesus’ name had become a problem at all), others have arisen. Wicca witches are now eligible to become chaplains. Fort Hood, Texas, and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., have established outdoor sites on their installations for Wiccans, Pagans and Druids to “worship.” Someone recently left a cross at the Air Force Academy’s Wiccan worship location, triggering a federal investigation of a possible hate crime. Of the 4,000 cadets at the Academy, less than a dozen are professing Wiccans. Wiccans recently won a lawsuit that now allows the Wiccan pentagram – a five-pointed star-shaped symbol used by the occult – to be inscribed on taxpayer-funded headstones in military cemeteries. While I recognize the Wiccans’ First Amendment rights, the rise of the occult and the discrimination against evangelicals should make us shudder.
In recent days President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to review the controversial “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals. Under the policy, personnel are not asked about their sexual preference, but if they disclose they are homosexual, they are removed from service. The policy has worked well and has been upheld in federal court. There is no constitutional right to serve in the military and homosexuals do not deserve special treatment just because of their sexual orientation. Letting homosexuals flaunt their sexuality will hurt military retention, morale and readiness. In short, it will make America less safe.
The problems caused by repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” go even further. Questions about how to house homosexual troops will be part of the Pentagon’s review. Other questions also arise, such as how to reconcile the military’s proscriptions against same-gender sexual contact with the possibility of homosexual service members being married to same-sex spouses in states where homosexual “marriage” is legal. What about same-sex spouses assigned to installations in states where same-sex “marriage” is not recognized? Will the states be forced to recognize them? Can you imagine the flood of federal lawsuits? Repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will move us one step closer to legalizing homosexual “marriage” nationally because the federal government will be indirectly legitimizing it. Polls show the overwhelming majority of service members favor keeping the policy as is. As an Air Force veteran, I agree. Repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” would be a disaster.
As much as President Obama would like to end “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” he can’t. Only Congress can. As for Congress, well, it is an election year. Will evangelicals be good citizens and show up at the polls in the fall?