Recently, an Army chaplain, performing his assigned duty, gave a policy briefing to the soldiers in his unit on the Army’s new policies on transgender soldiers. Giving this policy briefing did not require this chaplain — whose religious denomination considers homosexuality and transgenderism to be abhorrently deviant and egregious sins — to approve of the Army’s new policies or to in any way endorse transgenderism; his job was simply to inform the soldiers of what the new policies were.
The chaplain, Captain Erick Barrett, even made a point of opening the briefing by explaining to the soldiers that this was a policy briefing and “not a referendum or an open conversation about your opinions,” and clearly stating: “What this briefing is about is so you understand what that policy is. That’s it.” He again emphasized this point about halfway into the briefing by saying: “Has any of this been my opinion? Have I told you how I feel about transgenders? No. No, I have not, because this briefing isn’t about what Chaplain Barrett believes. This is about Army policy.”
Chaplain Barrett did his job in an appropriate manner. In a chaplain’s dual role as a both a member of the clergy and a staff officer, this chaplain, when tasked with performing a duty in his role of a staff officer did just that. He delivered a policy briefing, not a sermon on what he, as a Southern Baptist minister, presumably considers to be a sin.
But now Chaplain Barrett has incurred the wrath of Captain Sonny Hernandez, a “Bible-believing” Air Force Reserve chaplain, prolific anti-LGBT blogger — and self-appointed arbiter of what all other Christian military chaplains should do and say.
Writing on barbwire.com (which also just published his new book, Homosexual Agenda and the US Military), Chaplain Hernandez judgmentally lamented that Chaplain Barrett did not use this policy briefing as a platform to deliver a sermon:
Chaplain Barrett’s ‘transgender policy briefing’ was godless. There was no reference of Scripture, God, Jesus, repentance, or faith, which would be expected of an ecclesiastically endorsed evangelical who claims to be a Christian. For almost an hour, Chaplain Barrett pontificated about the Army’s policy on transitioning from male to female, or female to male, and reiterated innumerable times how soldiers’ gender is determined — while God was not included in this determination.
What Chaplain Hernandez fails to mention is that Chaplain Barrett was following, and for the most part reading from verbatim, the PowerPoint presentation provided by the Army for this policy briefing. Chaplain Barrett’s “pontificating” about the Army’s policy — at an Army policy briefing — included his repeatedly saying that what determines a soldier’s gender is what DEERS (the military’s database containing service members’ medical information) says their gender is. Why? Because the PowerPoint presentation reiterated this on a number of its slides. So, yes, Chaplain Barrett “reiterated innumerable times how soldiers’ gender is determined” without including God in that determination — because he was telling the soldiers how it is determined according to Army policy, not according to his religious beliefs.
Chaplain Hernandez continued his barbwire.com post by pontificating with his own “transgender policy briefing” for the members of Chaplain Barrett’s unit, which begins: “To start, there is no such thing as transgenderism.”
But wannabe-dictator-of-all-chaplains Sonny Hernandez didn’t stop at merely writing about the “apostasy” of Chaplain Barrett on the internet. He arrogantly sent what he called a “professional courtesy message” to Chaplain Barrett’s ecclesiastical endorsing agent (the civilian religious entity without whose endorsement a chaplain cannot serve in the military), telling them that his writing about Chaplain Barrett’s “sin” on worldnetdaily.com was “a necessity” because “public sin must be handled publicly.” Yes, Chaplain Hernandez, a captain in the Air Force Reserves, is so arrogant that he thinks Chaplain Barrett’s endorser, a retired major general and former Army chief of chaplains, is in need of his sage advice.
Chaplain Hernandez then went on the podcast of disgraced Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, and when asked by Klingenschmitt if Chaplain Barrett’s endorser had “a responsibility to yank this chaplain’s credentials and fire him?,” Hernandez unhesitatingly answered, “Absolutely.”
But it was how Chaplain Hernandez became aware of Chaplain Barrett’s “sinful” policy briefing that brings us to the glaring double standard that fundamentalist Christians like Chaplain Hernandez have when it comes to who has a legitimate right to be offended when they feel like their rights of conscience are being violated.
It was a soldier in Chaplain Barrett’s unit who contacted Chaplain Hernandez. This soldier — a Christian who considers transgenderism to be a sin — requested a religious accommodation to be excused from attending the policy briefing (which was denied), claiming in his request that “participation in such training will bind my conscience to another religion, thus violating my conscience and faith tenants [sic].”
Really? Simply having to be present and listen to something can bind a soldier’s conscience to another religion? Then Chaplain Hernandez — and all the other like-minded fundamentalist Christians who believe that a soldier’s conscience would be bound to another religion by merely having to listen to something that conflicts with their beliefs — would certainly have to agree that merely having to listen to the prayers and other Christian evangelizing that service members are regularly forced to listen to at mandatory military events binds the consciences of atheist and other non-Christian service members to a religion that conflicts with their beliefs, right? Of course not! When an atheist or other service member feels that their rights of conscience are violated by being forced to listen to prayers or evangelizing, they’re just too easily offended! But, in the double-standard-ridden minds of fundamentalist Christian zealots like Chaplain Hernandez, a Christian soldier merely having to listen to something about transgender soldiers — at a policy briefing that included nothing whatsoever about any religion — binds the conscience of that soldier to another religion! (Not sure what that other religion would be, unless there’s some new religion whose tenets include the Army’s policies on transgender soldiers.)
Another glaring double standard exists when it comes to military oaths — specifically the ending of oaths with the words “so help me God.” How many thousands of atheists have had to lie about believing in a god to join the military because they had to say those words?
But who have Chaplain Hernandez and his fellow hypocrite and blogging buddy Air Force Lt Col Jonathan “the Christian Fighter Pilot” Dowty been going after for lying in order to join the military? Well, the gays, of course.
As I wrote several months ago, Lt Col Dowty, in a post on his “Christian Fighter Pilot” blog titled “BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code,” accused Goodwin, the new commandant of cadets at the Air Force Academy, of being a liar. Dowty’s basis for this accusation? Goodwin graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1993, but the policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) wasn’t implemented until 1994. Therefore, according to LtCol Dowty, Goodwin, who is a lesbian, must have lied about her sexual orientation in order to join the Air Force, asking in his blog post:
“How did Col Goodwin — an open homosexual — enter the Air Force without lying?”
You see, Lt Col Dowty is extremely concerned about Air Force Academy graduates living up to the Academy’s Honor Code, which says, “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does,” and the Air Force’s core value of “integrity,” further asking in his blog post:
“Is it ‘wrong’ to lie to enter the US military — or the Air Force, whose first core value is ‘integrity’? Is it wrong to ‘live a lie’ as a cadet under the Honor Code?”
But Lt Col Dowty’s profound concern about service members “living a lie” only applies to the gays who might have lied about their gayness in order to enter the military. He has never once expressed an iota of concern about the many thousands of atheists who, in order to enter the military, have had to lie by swearing oaths to a god that they don’t believe in.
When it was revealed that Brig Gen Kristin Goodwin was not yet aware that she was gay until after DADT was implemented, and therefore had not lied about her sexual orientation when she entered the Air Force, Lt Col Dowty had to find a new target, and that target was Sue Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate who now sits on West Point’s Board of Visitors. Unlike Goodwin, Sue Fulton did acknowledge in an interview with NBC Out that she lied when asked about her sexual orientation.
In a post titled “West Point Grad Sue Fulton on the Importance of Integrity — Or Not,” Lt Col Dowty asked:
“Why is it that some people seem to think integrity (also a US Air Force core value) is vitally important to the character of US troops — unless they were lying because they were homosexual?”
Well, maybe the question that Lt Col Dowty should be asked is:
Why is it that some people seem to think integrity is vitally important to the character of US troops — unless they were lying because they were coerced or forced to lie about their atheism by swearing an oath to God?
But the biggest double standard of fundamentalist Christians like Lt Col Dowty and Chaplain Hernandez is their own lying. For a couple of self-proclaimed “Bible-believing” Christians who think that everybody else should obey the Bible, these two seem to have little regard for obeying it themselves — especially when it comes to that pesky stuff about not lying.
After my post about Lt Col Dowty’s accusation that Brig Gen Goodwin was liar, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the organization that I work for, filing a DoD Inspector General complaint against him for his disrespect towards a superior commissioned officer and other potential violations of military regulations, Dowty quickly edited his post, changing his original wording, which, as quoted above, was “How did Col Goodwin — an open homosexual — enter the Air Force without lying?” to “How was Col Goodwin — an open homosexual — able to enter the Air Force?,” eliminating the word “lying” to make it appear to anyone reading the edited version of his post (which contained no mention that the post had been edited) that MRFF was lying about what he wrote, and that the complaint against him was unfounded.
A series of tag team posts on Dowty’s “Christian Fighter Pilot” blog regarding Brig Gen Goodwin from Lt Col Dowty and Chaplain Hernandez then led MRFF to file a supplemental complaint against Chaplain Hernandez, both for his defending of Dowty’s disrespect towards a superior officer and some of his other previous posts.
And how did the “Bible-believing” Chaplain Hernandez respond to MRFF’s complaint against him? Well, by lying even more blatantly, of course!
Although knowing full well that his fellow “Bible-believing” blogger Lt Col Dowty had dishonestly edited his post, and that the question that caused MRFF to file its complaint was the question as originally worded by Dowty — wording that any reasonable person would see as an accusation that Brig Gen Goodwin was a liar — Chaplain Hernandez flat out lied, even going as far as adding emphasis to what he knew was Dowty’s edited version and not the wording that caused MRFF to complain, writing:
“Here is the question that caused the MRFF to complain [emphasis added]:
‘The policy known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was instated in February of 1994. Anyone who entered the military prior to that date answered a question about homosexuality during the enlistment process. Those who answered in the affirmative were refused enlistment.
‘How was Col Goodwin — an open homosexual — able to enter the Air Force?’”
So, just as Chaplain Hernandez and Lt Col Dowty like to sum up their posts with a Bible verse, I’m going to end with an appropriate Bible verse for them:
“The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.” — Proverbs 13:5