Acton Institute Powerblog

Chaplains Concerned About Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

chaplainThe Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, an organization of chaplain endorsers representing more than 2,000 current chaplains actively serving the armed forces, is concerned about the Supreme Court’s decision today to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act. The Chaplain Alliance calls on Congress to pass enhanced religious liberty protections for all military personnel.

“The court’s unfortunate decision to strike down the federal definition of marriage highlights the need for the religious liberty protections recently passed by the House Armed Services Committee and the full House of Representatives,” said CH (COL) Ron Crews, USAR Retired, executive director for Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. “Most of the faith groups in our country firmly hold that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. They strongly believe that children deserve to know their mother and father. Chaplains from those faith groups will continue to minister with those convictions. Chaplains have been protected by DOMA as they minister to service members and their families in a manner consistent with those sincerely held beliefs. That freedom is now at significant risk.”

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty submitted an amicus brief in support of DOMA explaining how the repeal of DOMA could impact the religious liberty of service members and military chaplains:

If, for instance, traditional religious beliefs and practices on marriage and the family become the constitutional equivalent of animus-based racism, service members who order their lives around those beliefs and practices will likely be forced to abandon either their faiths or their careers. Similarly, chaplains who represent amici’s faith groups could face tremendous pressure to self-censor when teaching about marriage and family, topics that are vitally important to fully meeting service members’ religious needs Short of a constitutional amendment, there likely would be little that either the military or Congress could do after the fact to remedy the loss of religious liberty.

“This ruling makes absolutely clear that Congress must pass comprehensive religious liberty protections,” added Crews. “Chaplains as well as all military personnel must be able to serve our nation without giving up their religious beliefs and convictions.”

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • RogerMcKinney

    To a large degree we owe the crushing of marriage and religious freedom in the US tot he activism of Christians in previous generations, particularly those in the early 20th century. They thought they could use the fist of the state to force non-Christians to act like Christians. They like the results as long as they were in charge. But now our enemies have turned the same weapons of state power against us.

  • Pingback: Selected News Stories from Around the World* — Friday, June 28 | The BibleMesh Blog()

  • Stephanie

    one of the biggest responsibilities of our chaplains is to protect the religious freedoms of ALL soldiers regardless of their religious beliefs. My husband is a Christian chaplain and it is his job to see to it that his jewish, muslim, catholic, etc. soldiers can practice their faith while serving in the military. When a soldier comes into my husband’s office asking for counseling he does so from a Christian perspective (which is to be expected). Soldiers, including chaplains, have never had to choose between following their faith or serving in the military. But without stronger religious freedom protections from Congress the rights of chaplains could be in jeopardy. Ken, would you say the same thing about a Muslim chaplain? Should they be asked to violate their conscious about deeply held convictions or leave the military simply because someone finds it offensive? It’s one thing to have the workplace be religion-neutral (which the Army does) and another thing for the pulpit, counseling chair and marriage retreats (where all participation is voluntary) to be forced to be politically correct.