Cmdr. Richard Smothers is being assaulted by little Mikey Weinstein, the founder of Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Because Cmdr. Smothers is a Navy chaplain who teaches an optional 12-week seminar called “Lead Like Jesus” at a Naval Station in Rhode Island, Weinstein and his ilk simply cannot tolerate the freedoms that Smothers has and that are protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. Yet, Weinstein claims the Navy chaplain is violating the Constitution by teaching such a course.
First Liberty has the story:
This time, the MRFF decided to stir up unnecessary trouble when an email was sent to base leaders, containing a flyer with information about the faith-based seminar. They’re demanding that the base’s commander, Ian Johnson, conduct a full investigation of Cmdr. Smothers and anyone else who promoted the event with flyers or emails. They argue that through the email flyers, service members are being “voluntold” to attend a Christian event.
Last time we checked, a military chaplain’s primary function is to provide religious services and counseling, which inevitably means informing fellow service members of updates regarding faith-related seminars for which attendance is voluntary. However, it seems like the MRFF has invented a “mythical” version of the Constitution where chaplains are in violation of the law for…doing their job.
Below we explain not only why the MRFF’s claim is both outrageous and extreme, but also why it doesn’t have any solid legal basis. Additionally, we’re giving you a brief refresh of the longstanding history and the essential role chaplains play in keeping America’s military service members spiritually fit.
What good are chaplains if they do not speak about the Savior?
Well, First Liberty makes that point, though they do begin to open things up a bit to antichrists such as Jews and Muslims, but clearly a chaplain has the God-given right to speak about the true God.
“That’s why it’s so absurd when chaplains are attacked for sharing certain aspects of their faith—like a Christian chaplain giving a seminar about Jesus. It goes against their very job description,” writes First Liberty.
As for the course, it is optional, not mandatory.
As First Liberty points out:
Just like chaplains can choose an endorsing organization, military members can choose which chaplains they associate with or from whom they seek religious counseling.
Contrary to what the MRFF portrays, Christianity isn’t being forced upon any service member. If they elect to seek out a chaplain’s service, military policy allows them to choose one whose religious tradition best matches their own.
Responding to this most recent complaint, Elizabeth Baker, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman, stated: “It’s not any kind of directive from the chaplain to lead like Jesus…it’s a discussion series after services only for those who volunteer to attend.”
First Liberty also says that chaplains are intrinsic to America’s military.
During the Revolutionary War, George Washington recognized that spiritual fortitude is just as important as physical strength. That’s why one of his first requests to the Continental Congress was to have chaplains in each regiment, which eventually led to the formation of the Chaplain Corps in 1775.
Since the inception of the Corps, chaplains have served in every American war. Though the Army Chaplain Corps is the oldest branch of its kind, the Navy and Air Force later established their own chaplaincy programs. Throughout American history, over 400 military chaplains have died in war, sacrificing their lives for their troops, many of them receiving recognition for their valor.
To this day, the chaplain corps has withstood the test of time as a valuable asset and a necessary institution critical to each branch of the U.S. military.
Weinstein and those involved with him seem hell-bent on attacking Christians for simply exercising the God-given rights. However, apparently, they don’t know who they are dealing with.
First Liberty has not only fought against such frivolous lawsuits before, but also won.
Here’s some examples.
- U.S. Navy Chaplain Wes Modder, former force chaplain for Navy SEAL Team Six, nearly lost his job, pension and retirement benefits. Why? He answered questions about his church’s teaching on marriage in a private counseling session. First Liberty intervened, and Chaplain Modder was exonerated.
- U.S. Army Chaplain Scott Squires was threatened with disciplinary action for declining to conduct a marriage retreat with same-sex couples, in keeping with his denomination’s doctrine. First Liberty’s legal intervention with the Army resulted in his exoneration.
- U.S. Army Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn received a “Letter of Concern,” which threatened to end his career, all because he shared a personal religious testimony during a suicide prevention class. Thanks to First Liberty’s involvement, the Army agreed to destroy and remove the letter from Chaplain Lawhorn’s file.
Frankly, someone should start filing counter lawsuits against Weinstein and put him out of business permanently.
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