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08/02/2010

Chap schtick: Pitting certain soldiers against certain faith figures

by Jeremy Hooper

StabenowIn brief comments to reporters, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) recently expressed a need for both advocates of Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal and concerned people of faith to find common ground and respect over issues concerning religious freedom. The AP sums up Stabenow's thoughts like so:

Stabenow said the goal should be to respect "everyone's beliefs and wishes," and she's sure the Defense Department will work through any conflicts "in a respectful way with members of the clergy." [AP via KXNet.com]

The Senator is right: This is truly the only way to proceed here. It's a certainty that gay soldiers will at some point in the near future be serving openly in the armed forces, just as they've serving in silence for quite some time. So here in church/state-separated America, the conversation must shift to how those who interpret their faith as being anti-homosexuality will also interpret their constitution as being pro-civility. Stabenow's comments about respect and the need to work through conflicts could not be any less controversial or any more on point.

But of course that's not how the kids at Focus on the Family see it. For them, Stabenow's words are a springboard for further spin about gay soldiers trampling on anti-equality chaplains' "religious freedom":

(click to play audio clip)
*Audio Source: Chaplains to be ‘Prepared’ for Gays [Focus on the Family]

They simply have NO WILLINGNESS to budge! Just as with so many other "culture war" aspects, the anti-open service crowd has made the DADT conversation all about themselves. There is no respect for gay soldiers' belief that they are equal citizens under the law. There is no attempt on the anti-repeal crowd's side to work through whatever conflicts they perceive. It's a constant game of whining with zero solutions. But of course our opposition will never admit that the burden is ON THEM to resolve it!

Right now, military chaplains serve in a world where soldiers sometimes lie, cheat, and steal. There are unfaithful soldiers, as well as divorced ones. There are members of our armed services who hold faith views that differ from this or that chaplain, as well as soldiers who vocally reject all faith views. Surely some of these things concern individual chaplains on individual levels. Yet the chaplains deal with the true-to-life deck that we know as reality. So while we find it wrongheaded and even offensive to call homosexuality a "sin" and liken it to something like adultery, the point is that it doesn't even matter whether or not certain chaplains might hold such a view! The point is that the chaplains' views and beliefs and teachings are to be reconciled with civil reality and NOT. THE. OTHER. WAY. AROUND!

Most LGBT advocates fully respect faith leaders' right to see us as "immoral." But we will not respect the social conservatives constant attempts to paint us as contrary to the military's cohesion and morale. If we the people of the fair and free United States are to wear this conflict down, then the first step is going to involve our anti-equality opposition admitting that the conflict lies on their side, not ours!

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