Questions surround what appears to be the censoring of a Christian leader by the U.S. military.
Nearly four months ago, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins received an invitation to speak at a national prayer luncheon held, Thursday, at Andrews Air Force Base.
It was not an unusual request. Perkins is an ordained minister and veteran of the Marine Corps.
But he's also a vocal opponent of rolling back the military's "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy that prohibits gays from serving openly in the military.
"This is not an issue of two men or two women in camouflage holding hands," Perkins said. "It becomes an issue of intimidation. It becomes an issue of coercion."
Two days after President Obama's State of the Union speech, in which he announced plans to repeal "Don't ask, Don't tell," Perkin's received a letter from the chaplain's office at Andrews rescinding the invitation.
The letter cited Family Research Council statements calling them "incompatible in our role as military members who serve our elected officials and our commander in chief."
"I never thought, you know, when I put on the uniform as a United States marine, serve six years in serving this country, [I] never gave thought to the fact that. one day I would be denied to speak because I, number one. held a view that was consistent with existing law, but number two, just happened to be in contradiction to the president of the United States on homosexuality," Perkins said in response to the letter.
He added that the loss of free speech should concern all Americans. He fears a change in the law allowing gays to serve openly in the U.S. military will have a devastating effect on religious speech.
"Chaplains will be muzzled in their ability to preach the whole council of God," Perkins said. "In fact, I believe you will see a mass exodus of chaplains from the military if, in fact, the military is forced to throw open its arms to embrace homosexuality."
The Joint Base Andrews Chaplain's Office released the following statement to CBN News in response:
“The Joint Base Andrews Chaplain’s Office sponsors a voluntary, annual prayer luncheon, focusing this year on deployed personnel, families and prayer. The Chaplain’s Office retracted Mr. Perkins’ invitation after his recent public comments made many who planned to attend the event uncomfortable. This was a local decision made by the Chaplain’s Office who wanted the luncheon to be inclusive for the entire base community. The Chaplain’s Office respects and defends Mr. Perkins right to express his opinions, and regrets any inconvenience to him. We thank and respect him for his prior military service.”