The case of Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt has been a right-wing cause célèbre for well over a year now and looks as if it will continue to be one for the foreseeable future. Yet while the Klingenschmitt saga drags on over his willful violation of orders, it is probably safe to assume that the Right will not be rallying around Don Larsen, a Pentecostal military Chaplain who lost his job because he switched religions:
Larsen’s private crisis of faith might have remained just that, but for one other fateful choice. He decided the religion that best matched his universalist vision was Wicca, a blend of witchcraft, feminism and nature worship that has ancient pagan roots.
On July 6, he applied to become the first Wiccan chaplain in the U.S. armed forces, setting off an extraordinary chain of events. By year’s end, his superiors not only denied his request but also withdrew him from Iraq and removed him from the chaplain corps, despite an unblemished service record.
Because Larsen is not Christian, it is unlikely that the Family Research Council will be defending Larsen’s “freedom of religious expression,” or that Vision America will praise “this bold man is standing up for his right to pray in his own faith tradition” and call on Senators to “stand with him publicly,” or that Alan Keyes will be calling on his supporters to send petitions to the Department of Defense demanding Larsen’s reinstatement, saying “Respect for our Constitution, simple justice and faithful obedience to religious conscience demands no less!”
And Larsen probably won’t be invited to be a featured speaker at the Right’s next victimization rally and thus will never get the opportunity to publicly liken himself to Abdul Rahman, the Afghani man who faced a potential death sentence for converting.