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Thread: Chaplain Fired for Being "Intolerant"

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    Administrator Mjölnir's Avatar
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    Chaplain Fired for Being "Intolerant"

    Military Times: http://www.militarytimes.com/story/m...ired/24699275/

    Copy of the Detachment for Cause Letter:
    Liberty Institute: https://www.libertyinstitute.org/fil...--Redacted.pdf

    Denial of Religious Accomodation Request from Chaplain Modder:
    Liberty Institute: https://www.libertyinstitute.org/fil...--Redacted.pdf

    A Pentecostal chaplain once assigned to elite Navy SEAL units may be kicked out of the Navy for allegedly scolding sailors for homosexuality and premarital sex.

    Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Modder was given a "detachment for cause" letter on Feb. 17 after his commanders concluded that he is "intolerant" and "unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment" of his current assignment at the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command in South Carolina.

    Modder denies any wrongdoing and is fighting the dismissal with attorneys from the Liberty Institute, which advocates for religious expression in the military and in public institutions. Modder has served more than 19 years and could lose his retirement benefits if the Navy convenes a board of inquiry and officially separate him before he completes 20 years of service.

    Navy Capt. Jon Fahs, NNPTC commander, cited several specific incidents in which Modder offered inappropriate counseling to sailors in the command, according to the detachment for cause letter. The letter states that Modder:


    •Told a female that she was "shaming herself in the eyes of god" for having premarital sex.
    •Told another student that homosexuality was wrong and that "the penis was meant for the vagina and not for the anus."
    •Suggested to a student that he, Modder, had the ability to "save" gay people.
    •"Berated" a student for becoming pregnant while not married.
    Commanders felt that allowing vulnerable sailors to be counseled by Modder is "a recipe for tragedy," according to the letter.

    The issue arose after multiple sailors filed equal opportunity complaints about Modder with the command, alleging discrimination.

    When confronted with the complaints, Modder told his command that "he will not follow Navy policy if it conflicts with his faith," according to the letter.

    Officials decided that "counseling is inappropriate in this case" and that Modder "must be removed from the command."

    In 2013, Congress passed a law that no chaplains will be forced to "perform any rite, ritual or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs."

    The command said it is impossible to know the extent of Modder's misconduct because conversations between service members and chaplains are typically considered confidential.

    Christianne Witten, a spokeswoman for the Navy Chaplain Corps, said Modder has been temporarily reassigned to Naval Support Activity Charleston as one of the staff chaplains while Navy Personnel Command officials review the detachment for cause action.

    "The Navy values, and protects in policy, the rights of its service members, including chaplains, to practice according to the tenets of their faith and respects the rights of each individual to determine their own religious convictions," Witten said.

    Modder's 19 years of service includes many glowing fitness reports. He spent several years providing spiritual counsel to Navy SEALS, and in December received a letter of commendation from the head of the Navy Special Warfare Command, who called Modder the "best of the best" and a "talented and inspirational leader."

    Modder's Liberty Institute attorney, Michael Berry, said the effort to fire him reflects a broader cultural change in the military.

    "I think what we are seeing is a hostility to religious expression in the military now," Berry said. "What we're seeing is this new modern, pluralistic, Navy where service members are encouraged to be hypersensitive, especially about issues of faith, marriage and family."

    Commanding officers feel that "if we don't silence this immediately, then somebody is going to complain that my commanding officer didn't do anything about it," Berry said.
    Last edited by Mjölnir; 04-25-2015 at 01:04 PM.
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    I saw this over on GOPUSA and felt sick to my stomach that this commander did what he did. I also hated it that the Chaplain's name got mentioned, But on the GOP article, it didn't mention the command or name of the officer who issued the letter.

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    Senior Member Bos Mutus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garhkal View Post
    I saw this over on GOPUSA and felt sick to my stomach that this commander did what he did. I also hated it that the Chaplain's name got mentioned, But on the GOP article, it didn't mention the command or name of the officer who issued the letter.
    You felt sick to your stomach because the commander upheld Navy policy? I don't get it. What would you have a commander do with a subordinate that says they will not follow Navy policy?

    It's not clear to me the context of when the Chaplain's comments were made and I think that would make a big difference. As a Chaplain, he is supposed to be a Chaplain to all and minister within his faith.

    Most of his comments are okay with me if he made them in private religious counseling with a sailor:

    The command said it is impossible to know the extent of Modder's misconduct because conversations between service members and chaplains are typically considered confidential.
    Told a female that she was "shaming herself in the eyes of god" for having premarital sex.
    How did he know she was having sex? If she went to him seeking religious guidance a member of his Church, then he is well within his rights/responsibilities to tell her this.

    If she is just a sailor in the unit that is not in the Church, then this wasn't appropriate.

    Told another student that homosexuality was wrong and that "the penis was meant for the vagina and not for the anus."
    Same as above

    Suggested to a student that he, Modder, had the ability to "save" gay people.
    This has to be a misquote, or partial quote or something. I don't know of any Pentecostal minister than claims he can save people...they may lead them Jesus or whatever...but not "save" them personally. Maybe he said he can cure their homosexuality...that would probably be in keeping with the Pentecostal faith...again, would have to see in what context he said this. Was he asked what he believed?

    "Berated" a student for becoming pregnant while not married.
    Same as above...was this student a member of his congregation or just a pregnant soldier?

    What made you sick about this? Do think the chaplain should be allowed to say the above comments to people who have not sought him out for religious counseling?

    I don't get how a Navy policy that says be respectful to other people violates anyone's faith. Where in your faith does it say you must go out and condemn nonbelievers and sinners?
    Last edited by Bos Mutus; 04-02-2015 at 11:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos Mutus View Post
    You felt sick to your stomach because the commander upheld Navy policy? I don't get it. What would you have a commander do with a subordinate that says they will not follow Navy policy?
    Sick that he basically wrongfully terminated the Chaplin for speaking his mind.

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    Senior Member Bos Mutus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garhkal View Post
    Sick that he basically wrongfully terminated the Chaplin for speaking his mind.
    Sounds to me more like he was rightfully terminated for speaking his mind against Navy policy...Chaplain or not, you can't just go around the unit telling everyone what you think of them, particularly if it's derogatory and has nothing to do with duty performance...but, disclaimer again, if he made those comments in his capacity as "minister to some", then my opinion on the issue changes. The context in which he made them is critical considering the two hats Chaplains wear.

    There are a lot of "speaking my mind" things that are not appropriate for my work position and I would expect to be terminated if I said them at work.
    Last edited by Bos Mutus; 04-03-2015 at 03:46 PM.
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