Tag Archives: gays in the military

The Journey: Padre Steve and Gay Rights

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

I hope that you are having a good New Year. I am having power fights with my blind nearly 14 year old Papillon-Dachshund mix Molly. It seems that she has decided that she no longer likes here special kidney diet dog food and resists eating it until she can’t stand it any longer. I even heat it in the microwave to get it to room temperature and sometimes she eats it like there is no tomorrow other times she looks at it, looks up where I am and seems to be asking “this shit again?” Tonight after refusing to eat I was getting some iced tea for my wife Judy and she was trying to get in the refrigerator. Power fights with Dachshunds are one thing. Power fights with Papillons another, but power fights with a mix… well what can I say? But I digress…

What I am writing about tonight is a subject that has become increasingly important to me, and a subject that probably makes some of my more conservative Christian friends really wonder about me.

The past couple of nights I have written about historic  discrimination against Gays and Lesbians, as well as what Gays suffered in the military under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. I do hope that you take time to read them and share them both if you haven’t already done so.

But anyway. I have been in the military coming up on 34 years between the Army and the Navy. When I enlisted and through the first two thirds of my career I can safely say that I fell rather strongly on the conservative-Christian side of the social issues debates. Over the years, especially the last seven since I returned a changed many from my time in Iraq, I have evolved significantly on most of these issues where although I while consider myself to be rather moderate I now fall decidedly on the liberal side of most social issues.

A lot of this has to do with the attitudes that I saw in churches that I was associated. Many people in my former denominations endorsed policies of the Christian Dominionist or Reconstruction movements, that basically upended First and Fourteenth Amendment protections and if enacted would basically turn the country into a theocracy. I have written about those things time and time again so I won’t elaborate on them now.

It was not only the policies, it was the attitude towards the LGBT community that really bothered me. For some reason it seemed that to many of my friends and colleagues that homosexuality was the only unforgivable sin, and not only that that homosexuals were somehow less than human and not entitled to the same rights as any other American citizen. Not only that they were blamed for every economic, social, foreign policy or natural disaster. Hurricane, blame the gays. Stock market crash, blame the gays, the 9-11 attacks, God’s judgement on the United States because of the gays. You name it, blame the gays, and that my friends still happens every day.

But my journey to accepting and fighting for Gays and Lesbians began a lot earlier.

When I first enlisted in the Army in 1981 it was not uncommon for gay slurs to be hurled at soldiers as a matter of course, especially at young men who did not appear manly enough or women who wouldn’t put out sexually when it was demanded of the. They were queers, fags, dykes and worse. There is a scene in the movie Full Metal Jacket where R. Lee Ermey, a man who actually was a Marine Corps Drill Instructor berates one of his recruits:

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Where the hell are you from anyway, private?
Private Cowboy: Sir, Texas, sir.
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Holy dog shit! Texas? Only steers and queers come from Texas, Private Cowboy, and you don’t look much like a steer to me, so that kinda narrows it down. Do you suck dicks?
Private Cowboy: Sir, no, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Are you a peter puffer?
Private Cowboy: Sir, no, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: I bet you’re the kind of guy who would fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around. I’ll be watching you!

The sad thing is that such behavior was still common even in the 1990s and though not nearly so pervasive still happened on occasion in after the 9-11 attacks. But those taunts really bothered me and when I was commissioned as a Medical Service Corps Officer in 1983 I met gays in my officer training, they were closeted but they were targets. When I served as a company commander in 1985-1986 I had a number of gays and lesbians in my unit. As I mentioned before they were among my best and most trustworthy soldiers, always going the extra mile.

Meanwhile the unit had the highest drug positive rate in Europe when I took command and had so many real disciplinary and criminal cases on the docket I was told by the Group Commander to “clean that company up.” But when I got down to It I realized that I was so overwhelmed with the real criminals that I didn’t want to harass or prosecute my best soldiers, including those gays and lesbians. That was a watershed. While other commanders sought out gays in order to prosecute them and throw them out of the military I was protecting and promoting them, not because they were gay, but because they were excellent soldiers.

When I went to my next assignment as a personnel officer at the Academy of Health Sciences discharges of trainees for being gay was common. I know because I had to sign off on every discharge packet before it was sent for approval. Since we had five to seven thousand students at any time, both officers and enlisted I did not know the details of most of the stories nor meet the individuals concerned.

However, in 1987 I was given the responsibility of helping soldiers diagnosed as HIV positive with their career options. I also helped officers from the Army Medical Department draft the Army’s policies for those infected with the AIDS virus. At the time many of the Christians that I went to church with believed the myths and lies being promoted by leading Evangelicals about AIDS and displayed a tremendous amount of distain and even hatred towards gays and others infected or dying of that disease. I was dumbfounded that people who preached the love of God had neither compassion nor empathy for those suffering.

I left active duty to attend seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. There I knew a few closeted homosexuals and lesbians who had deep faith in Jesus, were outstanding students and potentially outstanding pastors or chaplains but who had to remain closeted. After I graduated when I was going through my Clinical Pastoral Education Residency one of the men I graduate with did a one unit internship. During that time he made the agonizing decision to come out as Gay. For him there was much to lose, but his example was inspiring and I still stay in touch with him. I also met a chaplain from the Metropolitan Community Church who had been raised in a Black Pentecostal church. He was an amazing and compassionate minister.

In the hospital setting I worked with a lot of homosexuals, of which many were Christians who suffered in their churches as their pastors and friends railed against homosexuals. When I served as the installation chaplain of an Army base I hired an organist who was gay. He worked for the National Guard as a civilian and was a Log Cabin Republican. He grew up in a very conservative church and though he had deep faith was not welcome in most civilian churches. At the time I was a fairly new  in a very conservative denomination and my bishops held that giving communion to Gays was forbidden, in fact they called it a sin. However, when he presented himself for communion, knowing his faith I took the advice of a conservative Missouri Synod Lutheran chaplain, don’t ask, just trust the grace of God in the Sacrament. That became my model of ministry from then on. I never mentioned it to my bishop. Thankfully he never asked or I would have had to be honest. This encounter brought more homosexuals to the chapel, and the chapel community which was composed mainly of military retirees and National Guard personnel welcomed them.

In civilian churches of my old denominations I knew Gays and Lesbians who struggled and tried to do everything they could to change, but no-matter how hard they tried, how hard they prayed, how many times well meaning friends attempted to cast out their demons in rituals similar to exorcisms they struggled and suffered. Most eventually drifted away because they knew that they would not be accepted.  I have had friends in church whose children came out as gay or lesbian. Some loved and accepted them, others turned them away. Judy and I have always done what we can to support them as we would the children of any friend.

That understanding of God’s grace as well as what I believed were the fundamental Constitutional and human rights of Gays and Lesbians brought me to where I am today.

I know that a lot of conservative Christians have and will condemn me for these beliefs and actions, but for me honesty, integrity, empathy and love have to take precedence over hate, blame and prejudice, even when that prejudice is clothed in the words or faith and righteousness. I just figure that once we begin to use religion to condemn others and bolster our own political power that we are no better than people like Al Qaeda, ISIL or the Taliban. We are no better than the Inquisitors or others who destroyed cities and massacred people, even other Christians because they didn’t believe the right way.

I believe that it is just a small step from hateful thoughts and words to actions that end up in genocide. The “German Christians” of the Nazi era demonstrated that to a fine degree. The authors of the Bethel Confession, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer who protested the German Christian alliance with the Nazis noting:

“every attempt to establish a visible theocracy on earth by the church as a infraction in the order of secular authority. This makes the gospel into a law. The church cannot protect or sustain life on earth. This remains the office of secular authority.

That I believe with all my heart and that is why I will support and fight for the rights of the LGBT community in order to ensure that they have the same rights and privileges of any citizen. Otherwise what does the rule of law mean? What does the Constitution mean? What does that sentence in the Declaration of Independence that:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…” 

Abraham Lincoln wrote in 1854 concerning the rights of Blacks, something that is certainly applicable as well to homosexuals: “the standard maxim of free society …constantly spreading and deepening its influence,” ultimately applicable “to peoples of all colors everywhere.” 

That my friends, especially my conservative Christian friends who do not understand why I would speak up for the LGBT community, is why I do it. So in the words of my favorite heretic Martin Luther I state today: “Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me God. Amen.”

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under christian life, faith, LGBT issues, Political Commentary

Conduct Unbecoming II: Tell the Story of DADT Discrimination

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Those of you who follow this blog or know me understand that I have served in the military since 1981. In that time I have served as an enlisted man, a Medical Service Corps Officer and Chaplain in the Army and a Navy Chaplain. I am coming up on 34 years service. In that time I have had a chance to see the military justice system up close and personal, when I was a company commander and later a brigade Adjutant the military prosecutors were my best friends, defense attorneys, not so much.

Sometimes, the military judicial system is better than the civilian system, but other times it is hopelessly prejudiced, especially against Gays and Lesbians.

This was especially true when I first entered the Army in 1981 before the implementation of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, as well as after that policy was enacted during the Clinton Administration. I cannot tell you how many men and women that I saw, or heard about being railroaded out of the military simply because they were gay.

Before DADT the process was incredibly brutal. Gays and lesbian could simply be accused of being such, even with no corroborating evidence and put out of the military with a discharge that ensured that they would have difficulty finding employment when they were thrown out of the military. Military officials of the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID), the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) and Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) had free reign to use all means, fair and unfair to ferret out and prosecute anyone suspected of being gay.

I never was a fan of such tactics even though at the time I would have considered myself a Christian conservative who believed that gays were sinners and if they did not repent would go to Hell. But that being said, I never believed that gays were un-patriotic or unworthy of serving in the military so long as they conducted themselves in a manner that heterosexual service members should. Since I knew that homosexuals could not legally marry I figured that their sex life, so long as it did not interfere with their duties was not my concern.

When I was a company commander I knew that I had a number of gays and lesbians in my unit. They were all outstanding soldiers and unlike many of my heterosexual soldiers were never on the military police blotter. You see when I was made a company commander the unit I took command of had the highest drug positive rate in Europe and so many un-adjudicated criminal cases that I spent countless hours after normal duty hours do dealing with them. I had no reason to go after people who were not causing problems and who always could be counted on to go beyond what was required to accomplish the mission. The were great and it would make me proud to hear from them again.

That being said, one could December day the CID came knocking. The two special agents said that they wanted to put an undercover investigator in my company, allegedly to uncover someone suspected of trafficking American cigarettes that they had obtained with their ration cards on the local economy. I asked if they had a warrant or even probable cause for their action. They could produce neither. So I told them that I would not consent because a “spy” in the unit would destroy moral and esprit that I had been working to restore and told them if they could not show me a good reason why I should allow them to do this to get out of my company. After threatening me with investigation for harboring “black marketers” they never came back, so I doubt that they had anything.

However, when they left I wondered if there were any other motives, especially since they had no warrant and no probable cause. I wondered if they were fishing. Since medical units were known to have more homosexuals than other units I wondered if this was a reason, after all I wasn’t kicking anyone out for being homosexual, which back in those days was pretty big business.

When AIDS was finally recognized as a problem, long after it had already killed over 20,000 people, I helped develop some of the Army’s personnel policies for those infected with HIV, and did the counseling and support from an personnel point of view for officers who were infected. I also reviewed

After DADT was passed I was a Chaplain, first in the Army and then the Navy. Sadly, though over-zealous commanders and investigators no longer had carte-blanche to investigate suspected homosexuals, Gays and Lesbians still had to live under-cover. They could serve, but they could not admit that they were homosexual. As such they lived constantly under threat that the slightest mistake could cost them their military careers. I provided pastoral care for a number of those service men and women.

During the DATD era, thousands of Gay and Lesbian service members were drummed out of the service. Others, including a young man who had come to me for counsel, could not handle the pressure or the shame of losing their careers because of being identified as Gay killed themselves.

Even after the end of DADT the stigma of being homosexual has resulted in the prosecution of personnel who were guilty of nothing. I had to testify at the court-martial of a Marine Corps Officer who was the target of one of these witch hunts. I testified during his sentencing that the only reason that he had been prosecuted was because he was Gay. That made it into the record of the trial and I am proud that I could testify on his behalf. It was a travesty of justice engineered by the policies of the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos. It was a shame and dishonor to the Marine Corps that a distinguished combat veteran be tried and convicted even though every command and civil police authority up to the Commandant refused to charge him of any crime.

I know several who managed to make it through their career until they could retire. They included distinguished combat veterans and senior officers and non-commissioned officers. One Chief Petty Officer I knew came out at his retirement ceremony, he was so nondescript in his behavior that no-one ever suspected that he was Gay. I do have to admit that coming out at his retirement ceremony had a certain amount of panache which I admired. I have a friend who spent eighteen of 21 years of service before DADT was overturned under constant threat. She gets to retire this summer. I hope to do the invocation and benediction at her retirement.

But I digress…

I have been reading Randy Shilts’ book Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military. The book came out the month that Shilts, who had written the book that defined the tragedy of the AIDS crisis in its first years died of AIDS. The book is the most comprehensive treatment of the persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the military ever written. However, the book, published shortly after the establishment of DADT when Shilts was dying does not deal with what the Gays and Lesbians who served under DADT went through.

I want to write that book.

If you or anyone you know served in the military after DADT experienced the persecution that still occurred during that time I would like to hear from you. You can contact me by e-mail. I will maintain your confidentiality, after all, I am a priest.

That being said, the story of the Gays and Lesbian patriots who served during the DADT era needs to be told. That era encompassed more deployments and combat than any time since the Vietnam War. Many homosexuals put their lives on the line and even so still suffered great stigma and sometimes persecution. Under DATD 14,346 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen were thrown out of the military. 

You may e-mail me, contact me through this site, Facebook or Twitter and I will contact you. Please spread the word. This part of history should not be forgotten, otherwise it may be repeated.

Peace and blessings

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under civil rights, History, LGBT issues, Military

I Don’t Like Bullies: The Troubling Trend in Conservative Politics

I don’t like bullies. I didn’t like them as a child and I certainly don’t like them any better now.  Unfortunately the bullying that I address is not the simple schoolyard type, but a kind that has infected our politics and religion to such an extent that I fear the worst for our country.

Last night there was a most troubling moment during the Republican debate.  Fox news anchor Megan Kelly aired a video from a soldier inIraqasking what candidates would do regarding the recent repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy.   What followed was shocking. First a number of people in the audience booed the soldier. Second, former Senator Rick Santorum answered Kelly’s question about DADT saying that he would reinstate the policy which he called “social experimentation” which was “detrimental” to gays and lesbians.

Sanorum also mischaracterized the repeal saying that that “I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. The fact they are making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to, and removing don’t ask don’t tell. I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military’s job is to do one thing: to defend our country….”  The repeal didn’t give gays a special privilege but merely allows them to serve as others in the military do without fear of being thrown out if someone discovered that they were gay.

Santorum also showed his ignorance by ending his comments with this “sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual.” Well that is the policy that was enacted, except we don’t throw people out because they are homosexual.  The military is built on discipline and professionalism, if heterosexual military personnel cannot do something the same applies to homosexuals. The policy actually makes the case that sexuality is not an issue. It was under DADT and it put honorable men and women that wanted to serve their country under a rule that no-one else in the military had to live with. That policy emphasized that they were different and made their sexual orientation the issue so that they could be prosecuted at any time should a person turn them in or they make any statement that they were gay.

The repeal was voted by congress and DADT has been found unconstitutional by a number of Federal Courts.  It was going to go away one way or another and the way it was done the military had a chance to get ready for it.  Because of this nothing changed on September 20th. The military still continues to do its job without any disruption, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen are being professional and perhaps the one shock will have is when they find out that men and women that they admire and that they have served in close quarters or in combat with are gay. They will adjust and realize that all the hyperbole put out by people like Santorum was politically and sometimes religiously motivated bigotry.  The same happened in 1948 when President Truman integrated the military. Military personnel adjusted over time and now compared to most of society the military stands as a beacon to the rest of the nation.

When Santorum finished his answer he was greeted with thunderous applause and not one candidate stopped during the debate to call out the people that launched the chorus of boos.  A few notably John Huntsman and a spokesman for Rick Perry commented after the debate about how “unfortunate” the incident was, later on Friday candidate Gary Johnson condemned the action. Unfortunately most of the other candidates by their silence showed that they either agreed with the hecklers or that they are too afraid of political retribution to speak out against such behavior.

I was told by a Christian friend whose opinion I value that he thought that I was over-reacting to the actions of a few people.  God how I wish it was just a few knuckleheads doing this.  However I have seen many bloggers and quite a few allegedly “conservative alternative media” sites and “Christian” ministries blasting the same message ever since Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen announced that the military was moving toward the repeal.

The fact that others in the crowd did not challenge the boo-birds and Santorum didn’t censure them was scary. Later Santorum said that he didn’t hear the people that booed but they were loud and I have a hard time believing him. In light of his many other statements on this subject.

Part of the problem is that I am a historian and my focus was on Weimar Germany and the Nazi era. I have studied that period since I was an undergraduate as well as in seminary and for my second Masters in Military History. I talk about this with my German friends and they see parallels to their history. It unnerves them to see it happening here.

The tactics being employed by these “few” are eerily reminiscent of what the Brownshirts did to their opponents. If I “over react” as my friend said it was because acts like this do breed discrimination and violence.  Those that take power after having used or tolerated such behavior from their followers tend to become tyrants and oppressors in their own right, especially religious people.  Simply look at history to see how badly these events turn out.

But this is bigger than the repeal of DADT and gays.  Last week in another debate, the same type of crowd people shouted “let them die” in relation to a debate question about an uninsured man.  The week at another Republican debate people cheered the use of the death penalty even in cases where reasonable doubt was obvious. And then Pat Robertson told a caller that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease was justified. It is about the lack of outcry from Christians or even the willing participation of Christians in brutal behavior. These are scary things and it is the totally of them that brings my reaction.  This has happened in other countries and I fear that we are going down the same path.

We have a great number of very angry people including many Evangelical Christians that feel that the left has marginalized and persecuted them.  To some extent there has been some of that.  But the answer cannot be found in vengeance.  From what I read on many “conservative” or “Christian” websites the issue is revenge.   The revenge is in that they intend to take over by the ballot and if need be by the bullet to “take dominion” over every arena of public life and rid us of those that do not agree with them or strip them of any influence in society.

The people in the “Dominionist” movement and those that preach the “7 Mountains Theology”  have said that they are intent on establishing a theocracy in this country and others. In their new society people that disagree with them are the enemy, not only of them but of God, even other Christians. Rick Joyner, one of the leaders of this movement and one of the players in Rick Perry’s “The Response” said: “On February 23rd of this year I was shown for the third time that the church was headed for a spiritual civil war … the definition of a complete victory in this war would be the complete overthrow of the accuser of the brethens’ strongholds in the church … this will in fact be one of the most cruel battles the church has ever faced. Like every civil war brother will turn against brother like we have never witnessed in the church before … this battle must be fought. It is an opportunity to drive the accuser out of the church and for the church then to come into unity that would otherwise be impossible … what is coming will be dark. At times Christians almost universally will be loath to even call themselves Christians. Believers and unbelievers alike will think it is the end of Christianity as we know it and it will be through this the very definition of Christianity will be changed for the better.”

Others of this theological bent advocate chilling police state type methods in dealing with opponents and those that dissent and justify themselves by say that they are “doing God’s work” or “ushering in the Kingdom.

So this is not just about the gays, it is about protecting the weak and those that dare to dissent from a party line. It is about the use of  Brownshirt type tactics to intimidate and silence opposition.  The combination of radial politics and radical religion never produces anything good.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from a Nazi Prison:

“Radicalism always springs from a conscious or unconscious hatred of what is established. Christian radicalism, no matter whether it consists in withdrawing from the world or in improving the world, arises from the hatred of creation. The radical cannot forgive God his creation. He has fallen out with the created world, the Ivan Karamazov, who at the same time makes the figure of the radical Jesus in the image of the Grand Inquisitor. When evil becomes powerful in the world, it infects the Christian, too, with the poison of radicalism. It is Christ’s gift to the Christian that he should be reconciled with the world as it is, but now this reconciliation is accounted to be a betrayal and denial of Christ. It is replaced by bitterness, suspicion and contempt for men and the world. In place of the love that believes all and hopes all, in the place of the love which loves the world in its very wickedness with the love of God (John 3:16), there is now the pharisaical denial of love to evil, and the restriction of love to the closed circle of the devout. Instead of the open Church of Jesus Christ which serves the world till the end, there is now some allegedly primitive Christian ideal of a Church, which in its turn confuses the ideal of the living Jesus Christ with the realization of a Christian ideal. Thus a world which is evil succeeds in making the Christians become evil too. It is the same germ that disintegrates the world and that makes the Christians become radical. In both cases it is hatred towards the world, no matter whether the haters are the ungodly or the godly. On both sides it is a refusal of faith in the creation. But devils are not cast out through Beelzebub.” (Letters and Papers from Prison p.386)

It is time that we recognize this before it is too late because the train has left the station.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under faith, History, laws and legislation, leadership, Military, Political Commentary, Religion

Thoughts on Ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell…a Moderate View

No, we’re not homosexual, but we are willing to learn…Yeah, would they send us someplace special?

Note:  I’m not feeling well tonight with my Kidney stone keeping up a steady mid grade pain in my Kidney.  Thus I am modifying something that I wrote nearly a year ago concerning the subject of gays serving in the military. This is not a political or social screed, I have tried to remain dispassionate in this essay realizing that people of goodwill but with differing moral, ethical or religious values can have differing opinions.  Since ultimately the decision to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t “ will be recommended by the military and will have to be passed into law by Congress. As an officer it will be my duty whatever decision is reached to support that decision.

I have written an essay agreeing with Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates when they announced the decision to begin the process of repealing the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law on homosexuals serving in the military. I followed that with piece which attacked the lies and distortions being marketed by former Chaplain, defrocked priest and convicted criminal Gordon “Chaps” Klingenschmitt in an unsolicited bulk e-mail sent through the Washington Times Media Group. In neither article did I advocate an immediate change in the law and stated that I believed that the Military should make the recommendations on how the change should be made, and not politicians or special interest groups of any variety.

This post is simply how I have seen military culture evolving over the 27 plus years of my career. These patently are simply my observations and have both a bit of seriousness as well as humor.  I am most definitely a dyed in the wool heterosexual, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I think that someone without a political axe to grind on either the gay rights or anti-gay rights movement who is in the military have to have a say.  I know that I could be wading into Vietnam here but here I go….

When I enlisted in August of 1981, gays were not allowed to serve in the military.  It was even on the recruiting form. Applicants were asked under the penalty of making a false official statement “Are you a homosexual?”  Who can forget the scene in Stripes where Bill Murray and Harold Ramis are asked by the Army recruiter “Are either of you homosexual?” Their reply was a hoot.  They looked at each other and Bill Murray replied “you mean like flaming or…” The recruiter then said “It’s a standard question we have to ask.” Harold Ramis then quipped “We’re not homosexual, but we’re willing to learn” and Bill Murray adding “Would they send us to someplace special?”  The recruiter then ends the exchange “I guess that’s a no on both.”  It was a hilarious scene as we all had to answer the question back in those days.

Plain and simple if a person lied about being homosexual and was later discovered he was in deep dung, even an accusation of being gay could result in being charged under the UCMJ or at the very least investigated.  Soldiers could be taken to Article 15 proceedings (Captain’s Mast in the Navy, Office Hours in the Marines) or possibly even a court-martial. Depending on the charges one could receive a punitive discharge, such a Bad Conduct Discharge, or administrative discharge under a General, General under Other than Honorable, or Other than Honorable conditions.

Back in my days as a company XO and company commander in the 1980s I had a number of soldiers; male and female who I knew that were gay.  I had grown up in California, had gay friends and even when someone was hiding it I pretty much knew.  If I was homophobic I could have made accusations, began investigations and made these soldiers lives hell.  At that point in time there were a good amount of people in the military who would have done just that.  These soldiers were exemplary in the way that they conducted themselves at work.  They were professional, knowledgeable and I never once had to take any of them to article 15 proceedings for any reason. They never refused missions, they were exceptionally responsible, and good leaders.  As far as their personal lives they were discreet. I am sure that if they stayed in the military that they probably maintained that balance.  I don’t know what happened to them later on, but they were great.   I took over company command as a very junior 1st Lieutenant. The unit had the highest drug abuse rate in Europe with more disciplinary problems than you could shake a stick at. I wasn’t about to go after soldiers who were not giving me problems, I had far more pressing matters on my plate.  I guess you could say that I was exercising the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy 7-8 years before it became policy.  My philosophy then as is is now, is that if someone is willing to serve honorably and endure the hardships and dangers of the lives of military professionals then they should be able to regardless of the way that they are wired.  My issue then and now applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals who are predatory or push themselves sexually on other soldiers causing problems with good order and discipline and unit cohesion. I have to say had far more problems with my heterosexual soldiers in this regard than my homosexual soldiers. My homosexual soldiers were discreet in their personal lives and very professional, some of my heterosexuals were neither discreet nor professional in thier sexual lives and relationships.

When I served as a personnel officer at the Academy of Health Sciences I became “CINC AIDS.”  I was the most junior of the Medical Personnel Officers, serving as the Training Brigade Adjutant.  It was at this time that we began having soldiers test positive for HIV and develop AIDS.  I worked with representatives of the Army Surgeon General’s Office to develop personnel procedures for HIV positive soldiers.  These policies gave them the opportunity to serve honorably and at the same time ensured that they did  not endanger others through their sexual conduct.  Since I was the junior guy I got to deal with all the cases of officers who had been diagnosed with HIV.  No one else wanted anything to do with them. While the world around me raged with apocalyptic screeds of those convinced that this was God’s judgment on homosexual; those who prophesied how this virus would become a pandemic infecting people willy-nilly through casual contact, I dealt with real people.  These officers wore the same uniform as me and had been pronounced with a death sentence.  Some I knew were gay, but some were straight.  When an officer came to my office that was not on our brigade staff and the door closed, there was a good chance that the visitor had just received the news that they had an infection that would cause a process that would kill them.  They had received a death sentence.  I was a Christian and knew that I was going to be going to seminary after this assignment.  I could not see how Jesus could reject these folks.  While assigned there we had the first trial of a soldier who was intentionally attempting to spread the HIV virus among his coworkers.  He was a heterosexual and was a sexual predator.  He was taken to courts-martial and convicted.  As he was now in the latter stages of the disease process and battling the opportunistic infections which actually kill you he was sentenced to 6 months in Leavenworth.  I doubt that he lived that long. The experience of dealing with these officers taught me the torment that many homosexuals go through.  Following my time in the Army while in seminary and after it I worked in a variety of social service organizations and hospitals and I knew worked alongside many gays without a problem.

When President Clinton enacted the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy I was in the Army National Guard.  When the policy was announced there was public outcry from Veteran’s organizations but even more so from conservative religious groups.  I had no problem with the policy as I think that everyone should be somewhat discreet in their sexual habits, especially in the military. Regardless of sexual orientation it is always important for military members to conduct themselves in professional manner, and not only in sexual matters.  It is always a matter of good order and discipline.   While the policy made no one happy, gay activists did not think it went far enough and anti-gay forces hated it, I think it was a wise policy.  The President may have erred in the way that he announced it, but I think it was still the right thing to do at the time.

Since then our society as a whole has changed in its view and treatment of homosexuals.  There is a lot more acceptance of them now and many more people are openly gay.  I think that those who hid that aspect of their lives in earlier times now feel safe enough to come out.  Yes there are those who vehemently oppose any form of equal treatment for homosexuals, but there is a lot more acceptance than in the past. Various polls show that a sizable majority of Americans support changing the policy while polls of military personnel have seen the opposition to ending the policy drop significantly since 2002 even though most of these polls indicate a fair amount of opposition to the policy but even those who oppose a change by and large have determined that they would make their peace with the decision. I believe that this is due to the change in societal views of homosexuals as well as the fact that military professionals, especially officers and career NCOs tend to tend to be more dispassionate and pragmatic than they are given credit.

There have been famous military leaders who were gay including Frederick the Great who was forced to marry but kind of liked other guys better.  Lord Kitchner and Sir Hector Archibald MacDonald, both distinguished officers were homosexual, MacDonald committed suicide when notified that he would be courts-martialed for his homosexuality.   There were constant rumors when I was in the Army about senior leaders who were suspected of being gay.   While a majority of military members polled opposed the Clinton administration change of policy, it seems to have worked.  There still are objections by gay rights activists that the policy is too restrictive and opponents who desire for it to be repealed, but in large part there is no problem.  Other countries the British, Canadians and Israelis and a number of other European nations all allow homosexuals to serve in the military. Contrary to claims that the policy would destroy the military there is nothing to support that.  In fact the US Military has been more heavily engaged on multiple fronts since the policy went into place and done well despite being undermanned and often over-committed.

The Rand Corporation had a study of how allowing gays to serve would impact the military suggested the following was of ensuring that such a change would not endanger good order and discipline or unit cohesion, the two most critical aspects of any change.  They suggested:

  • A requirement that all members of the military services conduct themselves in ways that enhance good order and discipline. Such conduct includes showing respect and tolerance for others. While heterosexuals would be asked to tolerate the presence of known homosexuals, all personnel, including acknowledged homosexuals, must understand that the military environment is no place to advertise one’s sexual orientation.
  • A clear statement that inappropriate conduct could destroy order and discipline, and that individuals should not engage in such conduct.
  • A list of categories of inappropriate conduct, including personal harassment (physical or verbal conduct toward others, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical features), abuse of authority, displays of affection, and explicit discussions of sexual practices, experience, or desires.
  • Application of these standards by leaders at every level of the chain of command, in a way that ensures that unit performance is maintained.

It has been over 15 years since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy went into effect.  I have noted that while some military members still vehemently oppose gays serving in the military, that quite a few, officer and enlisted, especially those under the age of 30 are much more tolerant than were those of my era.  A while back I was talking with a couple of military doctors and a hospital corpsman, all of us committed heterosexuals, not that there’s anything wrong with that the other day and the subject came up in a humorous way when discussing ways to get out of the military.  The corpsman noted that saying you were gay was one way, and I said, at least for now it was.

As we talked we all agreed that anyone willing to serve in the military at this point of time should be able to so long as they meet the professional standards of the services.  This is no gravy train.  Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen are constantly deployed and putting themselves in harm’s way.  If a gay wants to commit his or her life to the service of this country, who am I to object?

From a practical and somewhat humorous standpoint we have to acknowledge a number of things about gays, especially gay men.  Many are very well educated successful professionals.  Most seem to have a far better sense of taste and style than most of us on the heterosexual team and quite a few are very physically fit and health conscious. Anyone who has ever served in the military knows that we are not known for the greatest living conditions, food or ascetics.  Military housing, both barracks and family quarters tend to be rather boring, and often substandard.  There is not a lot of imagination in most military dining facilities and the ascetics and design of many of our buildings and bases leaves a lot to be desired. Can you imagine if we let these guys serve?  Our bases would probably look a lot better and well kept.  Our living quarters would be nicer and more ascetically pleasing. The food would definitely go up in quality and we would get some highly qualified folks in the service, especially in some of the more scientific and medical specialties.  As a married heterosexual and “a uniter not a divider” I see all of this as a win-win situation.  Who could be against that? I would have loved to drive onto bases where buildings and landscaping were done well, where you didn’t feel like you were driving onto a prison.  I’d love to work in buildings where there was some sense of style and artistry, where when you walked in you didn’t think you had walked onto the set of a WWII movie.  I would love a nice selection of food that was both healthy and tasty.

Will this happen anytime soon? I don’t know.  At the present time DOD is studying how the change might be implemented including the possible ramifications of the decision on the force.  That study will take time and I suspect that at some point the President and Congress will address the issue and if it is changed I expect little practical change in the military.  We will keep deploying and doing our job, some people will be upset and some won’t, but I think there has been enough societal change over the last 27 years to allow this to happen relatively smoothly.  Will some people be unhappy? Most certainly. Will crusades be mounted against it by some?  Most definitely and one is already being waged by Gordon Klingenschmitt who went on record calling Admiral Mullen a liar and others will also oppose any change.  However I think that this opposition will come more from the outside and less so from the military which is busy fighting wars and protecting the country.  If “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed I expect that the military will survive and continue to do well.  I think that most will make their peace with any change and those who desire to serve their country, even those who oppose repealing the law will still elect to serve I the military.

Those are my thoughts and as I said at the beginning I remained as dispassionate as I can while still stating what I believe. After all, in the end this is all well above my pay grade.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Gordon Klingenschmitt Calls Admiral Mullen a “Liar”

How do you know when Gordon Klingenschmitt is lying?

When his lips are moving.

Well Gordon James “Chaps” Klingenschmitt a former Navy Chaplain convicted by a Special Court Martial for disobeying a lawful order not to wear his uniform to participate in a partisan political rally back in 2006 is at it again.  The defrocked Priest, former chaplain, convicted criminal, compulsive liar, and theological thug has called the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen a “liar” in an e-mail sent out through the Washington Times Marketing Showcase in which he was calling for Christians to join his petition “DEFENDING OUR TROOPS AGAINST OPEN HOMOSEXUAL AGGRESSION.” Since I received this unsolicited and poisonous e-mail I figured that thousands of others had it well. The fact that the conservative bastion Washington Times allows a man of Klingenschmitt’s low ethical and moral character to send out poison like this to collect money for his particular political-religious crusade shows me that this paper is nothing more than a shill for the extreme right wing fringe of American political and religious life.

Klingenschmitt who has little regard for truth as was evidenced during his relentless campaign against the Navy while serving as an active duty Navy Chaplain as per his standard operating procedure has one again engaged in the character assassination of yet another military officer, this time Admiral Mullen.  Klingenschmitt who has a palpable propensity to spin the truth in such a manner that it is no longer recognizable as truth; has launched this gratuitous attack against Admiral Mullen using the venomous invective that is his specialty.  The title of his e-mail reads: “Top Admiral Lies to Senate about Homosexuality.”  If I recall lying to Congress is like a felony, so not only has Klingenschmitt accused Admiral Mullen of being a liar but committing a Federal Crime.  Well I guess that Klingenschmitt knows what that is about having done it himself and then using it afterward to make a decent living off of gullible Klingenschmitt believing Christians who I sometimes refer to as the Klingenban who eager eat up his fabricated tails of being persecuted for “praying in Jesus Name.”

Since lying to congress is a pretty stiff charge to level at anyone let’s see the Klingenfraud’s leap of legal logic which allows him to make such a claim about the nation’s top military officer.  Klingenschmitt is his e-mail makes the following explanation of his case in his e-mail:

CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS DEMANDS HOMOSEXUALS LIE TO MILITARY

Tuesday the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee, repeating President Obama’s demand to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) prohibition against open homosexual aggression within the ranks of the military.  “We have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Admiral Mullen fibbed, revealing his personal belief that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”

First he claims that Admiral Mullen “deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee” by “repeating President Obama’s demand to repeal “the don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) prohibition against open homosexual aggression within the ranks of the military.”  If don’t ask, don’t tell was a “prohibition against homosexual aggression in the military” then the charge might have merit, but alas Gordon is serving up his own lie.  “Don’t ask don’t tell” was designed to protect homosexuals and allow them to serve in the military with the restriction that they could not openly admit that they are homosexual and to prevent commanders or others from asking if they are homosexual which then could be used against them in judicial, non-judicial and administrative procedures which leave them with a criminal record like Mr. Klingenschmitt and end their career.  It was never designed to protect the military from “homosexual aggression” as is charged by Mr. Klingenschmitt.  The fact that the nation’s top military officer supports allowing homosexuals to serve openly is lying by saying that don’t ask, don’t tell is a “policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they areis frankly insulting to any rational human being.  The policy indeed forces these men and women to daily hide a major part of who they are in order to serve.

Now here is where Mr. Klingenschmitt’s argument gets a little bit, oh well a lot loopy.  Instead of perusing any actual point of law in regard to the crime of lying to congress he goes into an anti-homosexual screed built around his theology which is taken loosely out of Romans Chapter One but even so incoherently argued that it makes your head spin.  It as if that he believes that his interpretation of scripture places him as the judge of Admiral Mullen or anyone, especially homosexuals who dare to disagree with him.  He then makes this incredibly ignorant statement of circular logic that says in short that homosexual man are trying to be women and homosexual women are trying to be men. You have to read this to believe it:

“Here’s a simple proof:  Men who were created by God with male body parts are not women, and they lie to themselves, the world, and their commanders when they pretend to be, and act like, women.  Women who were created by God with female parts are not men, and they lie to themselves, the world, and their commanders when they pretend to be, and act like, men.” So in other words if a gay person admits to being gay they are lying about who they are because they are pretending to be the opposite sex.

He then goes on:

“Mullen’s confused argument would permit men to deceptively act like women, and women to deceptively act like men, openly deceiving themselves, the world, and their military commanders, and boldface lying against God’s very truth, that He created men to be men, and women to be women.   But today’s confusing homosexual propaganda equates “honesty” with men openly flaunting their femininity, and “truthfulness” with women openly flaunting masculinity.   Who’s really telling God’s truth?”

Gordon states that: “Admiral Mullen’s confused argument…”  You have got to be kidding.  I don’t know any homosexual men on active duty who deceptively act like women and some of the homosexual men and women who are lesbians would surprise you, manly men and feminine women.  You see Gordon Klingenschmitt attempts to impose his beliefs on others and uses the basest of stereotypes to paint homosexual men as effeminate, when only some are and homosexual women as the classic “dyke” which again pandering to the basest of prejudice which seeks to all lesbians as the crudest stereotype imaginable.  He continues on in this vein for some time and it is not worth regurgitating here.

He then launches his attack loosely paraphrasing Romans One interspersed with his own commentary to buttress his charge that Admiral Mullen lied to Congress and that homosexuals are liars and that we need to help Senator McCain to “fight this open perversion, and protect our troops from open homosexual aggression…”  The attack is disingenuous and dishonorable, but then I would expect nothing less out of a man who has made a career out of defaming others and using bully tactics to attempt to force the Navy to let him do whatever he wants.

He then makes a vicious and yet nonsensical attack at Army Lieutenant Daniel Choi a West Point Graduate.

“CBS news interviewed homosexual Army Lt. Dan Choi, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who currently faces discharge for publicly announcing he’s gay.

“I think it’s a very healthy thing for people to be able to tell the truth and to come to terms with who they are. I think it’s a sign of maturity,” Choi said, “At my very first day at West Point, I learned that the honor code says a cadet will not lie, will not tolerate those who lie,” said Choi. “They didn’t say that a cadet who was gay could lie whereas straight cadets didn’t have to lie.”

As a USAF Academy graduate knowing the honor code, I now personally confront Choi as a liar, who now openly violates his honor oath, since he deceives himself and the world, by claiming to be feminine, when God created him masculine, with a male body.  LIAR. Choi should immediately be thrown out of the Army, not merely for sexual perversion, but for DISHONESTY AND LYING.  The only reason he graduated West Point is that he never lied by openly claiming to be feminine while a cadet, when God created him to be masculine.  THIS PROVES DON’T ASK DON’T TELL IS THE MOST HONEST POLICY, because it encourages people with sexual perversions not to openly lie about their sexual identity.  But if DADT is repealed by Congress, men will claim to be women, and women will claim to be men, and the open season of dishonesty and lying will begin.”

Klingenschmitt once again uses the argument that Choi like other homosexuals is a liar because they are honest about their sexual identity.  Whether Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban agree with this or not we live in a free country.  We don’t live in Afghanistan or Iran where guys just like Klingenschmitt, only Moslem versions, preach the same hatred and use their religion as the law of the land.  Klingenschmitt though “Christian” is no different than the Taliban and if people like him were ever to assume control of the country we would discover what fun it is to live in a country where religious fanatics have the power of the gun to enforce their law.  Lieutenant Choi in my view whether one agrees with his sexual preference has demonstrated integrity, honor and devotion to his country and never in his protest against don’t ask, don’t tell slandered his superiors.  However I digress. Klingenschmitt who did not lie about being on a combat tour on USS Anzio his combat record pales in comparison to Choi a Military Academy graduate, son of a Korean Baptist minister, Arabic and Farsi translator and interpreter who served two combat tours as an infantry officer in Iraq before returning to the National Guard was discharged under don’t ask, don’t tell when he revealed his homosexuality.  Since then he has become an advocate for ending don’t ask, don’t tell.  Both are advocates for their cause but Choi has never offered public prayers for the death of his opponents or smeared the reputations of honorable men who were his superiors either before his discharge or after.

Klingenschmitt then recites a litany of reasons of why don’t ask don’t tell should not be ended.  His e-mail makes the following points:

“Four reasons: 1) Allowing open homosexuality especially hurts unit cohesion and would cost American lives in war, damaging the trust shared in close proximity, common sleeping quarters and showering facilities that are unavoidable in close combat.  2) Men and women do not share the same showers for obvious reasons, so why force men to share showers with openly homosexual men?  This fact alone would hurt recruiting.  3) The rampant spread of the HIV-AIDS virus contaminates the blood often shared by necessity on the battlefield.  Soldiers requiring blood-transfusions and medics would be immediately endangered.  4) “Gay promotion quotas” would soon be forced upon presently impartial promotion boards, causing a burdensome rise in sexually-charged “equal opportunity” complaints against commanders, especially those who offend gays by inadvertently speaking of their traditional Judeo-Christian faith.”

First he makes the charge of decreased unit cohesion and trust but most recent polls of military personnel do not bear this out. Yes some will not be comfortable with open homosexuals in the ranks. However as I have said it is about conduct, if the standards of how one conducts themselves toward other service members are enforced uniformly there will be few problems.  Shower facilities are an issue often thrown up by people like Klingenschmitt but there is no actual facts to back it up.  His misuse of AIDs and HIV being blood donors either in combat zones or outside of them is spurious. No one with AIDS or HIV is allowed to donate blood and military personnel regulations which I helped to draft in 1987-88 forbid the deployment of HIV positive people to areas that they cannot be treated or that could endanger their medical condition.  Since HIV and AIDS is not confined to the homosexual population and is not being spread rampantly as Klingenschmitt alleges the argument is a straw man.  Finally the charge that there would be homosexual quotas for promotion is also disingenuous.

Plainly speaking Klingenschmitt has no honor. He is an expert at distortion of the facts, misusing scripture and character assassination. He has since his first days in the Navy sought to enforce his brand of Christianity on his shipmates, peers and superiors. He lodged complaints against every commanding office that he served under and with his accomplices at World Net Daily engaged in every form of malicious conduct imaginable to include clandestine recording of the his superiors informing him of his court-martial charges.  His shipmates from USS Anzio have told me in person and in comments to this site of his intimidation tactics and bullying on that ship.  Following his discharge from the Navy he has engaged in a tactic called “imprecatory prayer” against a number of adversaries, praying for God’s judgment on them and that their days be few, a comment that he says is not a prayer for their early death but in the context of the entire scriptural passage (Psalm 109: 7-11) can only be read as such.

Klingenschmitt also quoted Elaine Donnelly of the “Center for Military Readiness” a right-wing organization that features Phylliss Schafly as a member of its board of advisors, that “it is unconvincing to hold up the small, dissimilar of foreign nations…as models for America’s forces.” Well since 25 nations including our closest allies, Britain, Canada, Australia, Israel, Germany and France as well of most of NATO whose soldiers both straight and gay serve alongside of ours in Afghanistan have allowed homosexuals to serve with little or no disruption in operations or efficiency I wonder what she is getting at.  Maybe its that she feels that American military personnel are less professional than our allies and would not behave professionally if we end don’t ask, don’t tell.  It is curious that I don’t see too many elected Republicans getting on the Klingenban bandwagon…huh… perhaps they know that a large majority of voters would find their support of Klingenschmitt’s crusade unpalatable and might react negatively to them if they oppose the change. 

I have posted a myriad of links to other things that this dangerous man has done here:

http://shamefulchaplain.blogspot.com/

http://pubrecord.org/religion/3355/ex-chaplain-offered-sacrifice-jesus/

http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/press-releases/audio_recordings.html

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/04/klingenschmitt_prays_for_death.php

http://blog.au.org/2007/04/05/a-matter-of-honor-the-truth-comes-out-about-former-chaplain-klingenschmitt/

http://undergroundunbeliever.blogspot.com/2009/04/continuing-tale-of-court-martialed-navy.html

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=33868

http://faithfulprogressive.blogspot.com/2009/08/scaring-naive-christians-and-elderly.html

http://www.benedictionblogson.com/2009/04/28/the-imprecatory-prayer-of-gordon-james-klingenschmitt/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/conspiracy-theorist-milit_b_204948.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/09/AR2006010901812.html

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/07/the_continued_absurdity_of_gor.php

http://bypi.blogspot.com/

http://hamptonroads.com/node/153451

http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/25635760/ExChaplains-Boss-Says-Religious-Right-Tales-Inaccurate

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×6708951

http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/does_god_answer_prayers_to_do_someone_ill1/

The list can go on and on, these are but a few reports about Klingenschmitt so here are my own tributes to “Chaps” which are linked below:

https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/gordon-klingenschmitt-and-his-followers-the-klingenfraud-and-the-klingenban/

https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/oh-lord-stuck-in-lodi-again%E2%80%A6-gordon-klingenschmitt-does-lodi/

So with Klingenschmitt in the news it is right that his theological cousins in the Taliban, Iran’s President Ahamadinejad and the Mullahs seek to enforce the same standards of belief on their people as Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban seek to do here. He may be a “D-lister” but he serves an evil purpose and masquerades as a minister of light.  Klingenschmitt’s cause is not the redemption and reconciliation paramount in the Christian Gospel, but rather a twisted and hateful campaign of self promotion as he exalts not Jesus but himself and his political cause which he baptizes with Scripture verses.  This is not Waziristan and the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not in charge. Our founding fathers fought to prevent the United States from becoming a theocracy. While we cherish the role of religion in particular the Judeo-Christian tradition of this country we recognize that this is a pluralistic nation where no religion can impose its views simply because they believe that they are more correct than others and no-one including Gordon Klingenschmitt can issue a Fatwah stating otherwise.

Have fun with the links and spread the news that Gordon Klingenschmitt is coming to town.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under faith, Lies of World Net Daily, Military, Political Commentary, Religion, US Navy