In response to the complains of Gordon Klingenschmitt, the Navy chaplain and Religious Right activist who is still waiting to be a martyr, as well as the controversy over alleged religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, the Right is pushing the Senate to adopt the language from the House Defense appropriation bill that grants chaplains the “prerogative” to lead sectarian prayers in non-worship military functions. Alternative language from Sens. John Warner (R-Virginia) and Carl Levin (D-Michigan), which asks that chaplains at least be “sensitive to and respect the diversity of faiths represented,” has the Right in an uproar. As recent controversy has forced the military to more clearly define what the chaplain’s job is in serving the religious needs of soldiers, the Religious Right is more concerned about the need of the chaplain to express himself.
“This places religious ‘tolerance’ over religious freedom,” cries the Family Research Council. “It rejects religious liberty and would likely prevent a chaplain from praying ‘in Jesus’ name’ outside of a church service,” insists Amanda Banks of Focus on the Family Action.
But the cream of the crop is Janet Folger of Faith 2 Action, who sees senators reluctant to enact a policy encouraging chaplains to eschew inclusiveness in mixed audiences as one step before the moment when they lock up all Christians. Calling on readers to contact the senators, she warns,
Of course, you have “the right to remain silent,” but if you use that right much longer, those are the words you’ll hear before you see the inside of a prison cell. Because if they criminalize Chaplain Klingenschmitt today, tomorrow it’s you.