Dr. Albert Mohler, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and current president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said this about those Christians who disagreed with him on the issue of Southern Baptist military chaplains and their ability to serve both God and Country:
Where will every Christian church stand on this matter? The great theological divide between those churches and denominations committed to biblical Christianity and those who are given over to the spirit of the age has never been more clear. Indeed, the divide grows clearer day by day.
Also clear is this: Southern Baptist chaplains cannot surrender their commitment to Christ in order to maintain their commitment to ministry within the Armed Services. Furthermore, Southern Baptists will take their instruction from their own churches, not from those churches and denominations who are wearing out their knees bowing to Baal.
In Dr. Mohler's blog, which allows for no public comments, he initially poses the following question: "Can chaplains committed to biblical Christianity serve in the United States military?" The inferences are troubling, and an affront to the long and honored tradition of respect and cooperation among military chaplains. Is he suggesting that other believers are not committed to "biblical Christianity"? Is he alleging that only hard line conservative chaplains are fit for military service? Is he questioning the integrity and competency of Southern Baptist chaplains to follow their own conscience and convictions in their pastoral ministries? Or, is he suggesting that mandates by the North American Mission Board(NAMB) do not preclude collegial and comprehensive ministry by Southern Baptist chaplains in today's military? Clearly, he does contend some chaplains should enjoy a privileged status in the military, and to not permit them this privilege, he insists, is tantamount to an attack on religious liberty.
Dr. Mohler blames the "crisis in the chaplaincy "on the new "moral revolution" evidenced by "the normalization of homosexuality" as seen in the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the finding by the United States Supreme Court that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
This new "moral revolution" and "the spirit of the age" are both issues the Southern Baptists should be well acquainted with. Sadly, they have found themselves on the wrong side of history on many occasions, from what they believed was a biblical call to support the institution of slavery during the Civil War to the more recent reversal of the ordination of women in 2000.
Dr. Mohler's "moral revolution" is more accurately, an ethical dilemma created when the NAMB of the SBC issued "Guidelines" to their endorsed chaplains. Before this current mandate, Southern Baptist chaplains fulfilled the requirements to either "perform or provide" for all service members without bias or discrimination. They could, and did, carry out their sworn duty to minister in a pluralistic environment. In fact, they had done so for decades with honor and distinction. The NAMB has made it almost impossible for Southern Baptist chaplains, with their boots on the ground, to carry out their official military duties and the Constitutional mandate to provide compassionate and inclusive pastoral care to all America's service members.
Having lost the fight to prevent the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, and steadily losing the battle for marriage equality, the SBC's religiously ultra conservative executives have now cleverly changed their strategy. They have turned their focus on drummed up efforts to protect "religious liberty." But, that begs the question. What American could possibly oppose the first liberty of the First Amendment to our Constitution? Obviously, no freedom loving citizen of this country. That is simply not the issue in this manmade and unnecessary "crisis in the chaplaincy."
Dr. Mohler, and those who agree with his understanding of Christianity, objects to the changes in the law of the land. Laws passed by the Congress and ruled upon by the United States Supreme Court. They claim to be protecting "religious liberty" when in fact they demand special rights and the license to be able to deny others the legal protection afforded all Americans under the law.
They falsely claim conservative Christians are being attacked for their religious beliefs, particularly in the military. They contend that chaplains will be required by their commanders to carry out religious rites, such as same gender marriage or the blessings of civil unions, practices that are against their faith traditions. Dr. Mohler even goes further by inferring that those faith groups such as other evangelical Protestants, Roman Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox Jews, who may not welcome or affirm same gender relationships, as well as their chaplains, will be required to surrender their sincerely held religious convictions. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This "crisis in the chaplaincy" is a self-inflicted wound caused by those who want special rights for service members and chaplains who share their particular conservative religious beliefs. The "religious liberty" they seek to protect is only for themselves and at the expense of everyone else. That cannot stand Constitutional muster guaranteeing liberty and justice for all.