Chaplains Oppose 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal

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A group of former U.S. military chaplains say the Obama administration's plan to repeal "Don't ask, Don't tell" could have a major impact on spiritual life in the armed forces.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and at a Washington, D.C., press conference, the chaplains warned against ditching the policy that prevents homosexuals from serving openly in the military.

The policy has been in place for nearly 20 years.

Despite some polls showing 75 percent public approval "Don't ask, Don't tell," the chaplains say there is still widespread opposition from those in uniform.

"Do not misinterpret the silence from the rank and file as approval of this policy," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said. 'That is why you will repeatedly see those who have retired and are free to speak, speaking out for those who are not."

Some legal experts claim that if the law is changed, the military will be at odds with tenets of the major religions in the country.

"If they preach or counsel soldiers or airmen or sailors... that marriage is only one man and one woman [and] certain types of behavior are immoral, they will be in direct conflict with military policy if this law is changed by Congress," Jordan Lorence, the senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said.

The chaplains say the moral dilemmas could run beyond counseling and into the hiring practices.

"Am I going to be forced or pressured into hiring a homosexual to be my director of religious education or maybe my youth worker?" Retired Army Chaplain Richard Young wondered.

Young believes chaplains aren't the only ones who will suffer from the proposed new policy.

"Soldiers and military families will also pay a price," he said. "Because when the message of Bible-believing chaplains is muzzled, soldiers and families no longer have the benefit of the full counsel of God, from religious leaders they depend upon for biblical teaching, guidance and counsel."

"If chaplains are forced to counsel same-sex couples or are limited in the moral teachings that they can present, you can look for Orthodox Christian chaplains to exit the military," Perkins added.

The Pentagon is now several months into its year-long review of "Don't ask, Don't tell."

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