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Uproar as US Navy chaplain may be fired over Christian views on sexuality

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Navy chaplain Wes Modder The Liberty Institute

GOOSE CREEK, SC, March 13, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A highly-decorated Navy chaplain may be kicked out of the military for his Christian views, the result of a possible scheme to weed out pro-marriage Christians.  

Lt. Commander Wes Modder, was accused of failing “to show tolerance and respect” in private counseling sessions regarding issues pertaining to faith, marriage and sexuality, specifically homosexuality and pre-marital sex, according to Fox News.

Military veteran and attorney Michael Berry said Modder, who is endorsed as a chaplain by the Assemblies of God, is being punished for his Christian faith.

“We are starting to see cases where chaplains have targets on their backs,” said Berry. “They have to ask themselves, ‘Do I stay true to my faith or do I keep my job?’”

Berry, who is with Liberty Institute, a law firm that focuses on religious liberty cases, is representing Modder. In a letter to the Navy he accused the military of committing a gross injustice against the chaplain, and he expects the Pentagon to respond forcefully and resolutely to the allegations.

“They want chaplains to be glorified summer camp counselors and not speak truth and love into people’s lives,” Berry said. “There are some anti-religious elements in our military. Anytime somebody wants to live their faith out, there are people who say that is offensive.”

Military personnel have faced a wave of religious liberty restrictions and speech control from the federal government in recent years.

Modder, chaplain at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, S.C., was given a "detachment for cause" letter February 17 after the Navy found him unable to “function in the diverse and pluralistic environment.”

The 19-year military veteran has a record full of praise and commendations.

Modder could lose his retirement benefits if the Navy convenes a board of inquiry and officially separates him before he completes 20 years of service, according to the Military Times.

Before he became a Navy chaplain, he served in the Marines, including tours with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Naval Special Warfare Command, where he was the Force Chaplain of the Navy SEALs.

His commanding officer, Capt. Jon R. Fahs, was among those who extolled him, writing in his most recent review that Modder was “the best of the best,” and a “consummate professional leader” worthy of an early promotion.

Yet for some reason, now five months after that review, Fahs’ assessment of Modder diverges greatly, flying in the face of what he previously wrote about the chaplain.

Now Fahs said in a memo about Modder, “On multiple occasions he discriminated against students who were of different faiths and backgrounds.” 

Modder told Fox News he is devastated by the claims, and both he and Berry believe he may have been set up.

On December 6 a new assistant and two Equal Opportunity representatives showed up with a five-page complaint on Modder. The grievances focused on Modder’s views on “same-sex relationships/marriages, homosexuality, different standards of respect for men and women, pre-marital sex and masturbation.”

The junior officer had been working with Modder for just a month, and Modder said the assistant would repeatedly inundate him with questions about homosexuality, while Modder had no idea that he was homosexual and involved in a homosexual “marriage” to another man.

Modder was immediately relieved of his duties and told to clean out his office when the complaint was received, with no opportunity to defend himself.

He called the five-page complaint letter “unconscionable.”

“It was insulting and it was devastating,” Modder told the news station. “I felt discriminated against. How could something like this happen at this stage of my career?”

Berry suspects the assistant gained access to private counseling files during his time as Modder’s assistant.

“To be clear,” Berry said, “Chaplain Modder does not dispute that during private, one-on-one pastoral care and counseling sessions, he expressed his sincerely held religious belief that: sexual acts outside of marriage are contrary to Biblical teaching; and homosexual behavior is contrary to Biblical teaching; and homosexual orientation or temptation, as distinct from conduct, is not sin.”

But the assistant making the charges against Modder may in fact himself be guilty of a crime, according to Berry.

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“I believe some of what the lieutenant has alleged could constitute a military crime, false statements, taking what the chaplain said and twisting or misconstruing it, in an attempt to get the chaplain punished,” he said. “He abused the position he was placed in as a chaplain’s assistant.”

After the story broke the Pentagon released a statement that said Modder has been temporarily assigned to Naval Support Activity in Charleston as one of the chaplains on staff, and that the detachment for cause action will be reviewed by Navy Personnel Command.

“The Navy values, and protects in policy, the rights of its service members, including chaplains, to practice according to the tenets of their faith and respects the rights of each individual to determine their own religious convictions,” the Pentagon statement said.

The U.S. Assemblies of God, U.S. Missions is standing fully behind Modder.

For his part, Modder lamented the course of today’s culture, and laid what is happening to him at its feet, recalling for example that when he first arrived at the base he was told not to pray in Jesus’ name at a graduation invocation.

“This new generation is very secular and very open sexually. The values that the military once held, just like the Boy Scouts of America, are changing,” Modder said. “The culture wants this. Culture is colliding with truth. That’s at the heart of this.”

He knows there is a hard road ahead in this fight with the military for his religious freedom.

“Every fiber in my being wants to run away from this,” said Modder. “But if I do I’m not being obedient to the Lord. I need to stand up for righteousness and this is something I cannot walk away from.”

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