We are seeing the inevitable problem that comes when one commits to a pluralistic society. There is no way around the fact that two or more belief systems will come into conflict with one another. It escapes most peoples’ notice that they are driven by their understanding of the world and their values. It is what you believe that informs your motives, which in turn drives your actions. When there are differences of beliefs, at least at the basic level, conflict will arise.
This is the case with Lt. Commander Wesley Modder, who is a chaplain in the Navy. He is in danger of losing his job. The reason is that he has been accused of not respecting the religious beliefs of others.
Last month, he was issued a “detachment for cause” letter indicating that “his conduct warrants his removal.” He’s now fighting for his job, arguing that he was simply expressing his religious beliefs.
What is Modder accused of exactly? ThinkProgress continues
The complaint against him, which stems from multiple sources, outlines the following examples:
He told a student that she was “shaming herself in the eyes of god” for having premarital sex.
He told another student that homosexuality was wrong.
He told a student that “the penis was meant for the vagina and not for the anus,” while making an inappropriate hand gesture.
He insinuated that he had the ability to “save” gay people.
He asked a staff member about her sexual conduct and then told her that she should be in love with God and not her partner.
He berated a pregnant student for becoming pregnant while not married.
Now, I want to state that I do know that things can be heard by those in an emotional state that were not actually said. What might be the best-intended comment could be heard as hurtful or mean, if the hearer is already self-condemning or guilt-ridden. But I have yet to see that the Lt. Commander has said anything about another persons religion. And though the Chaplain had not been supportive of what he considered to be sin, this is not an attack on those people’s religious views.
Christian Headlines reports
In addition, the Navy pledges to protect “the rights of its service members, including chaplains, to practice according to the tenets of their faith,” and states that it “respects the rights of each individual to determine their own religious convictions.”
As to the truth of what was said and what constitutes rightful religious expression, we have an insurmountable problem. We are not nor can we be all knowing. In fact, I would argue that both side’s memories may not be completely accurate. Besides this, there is the issue of religious expression. Who determines what is a “rightful religious expression?” The Navy? Our Congressman? I should hope not.
I think that at least part of the problem is that there is nothing said as to the Chaplain’s role in these incidents. Did he just walk up to these people and start berating them? Has he been investigating all the naval personnel and students at his posting to discover all their deepest sins? This is unlikely. No, more likely these people came to the chaplain. Did he handle these situations perfectly? I doubt it, but there is one thing that is clear. Nothing he said was an error according to his faith or the Bible.
According to ThinkProgress
But Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, thinks it’s clear that Modder is rightfully being held accountable for the way he expressed his beliefs. “He was way out of line,” Fidell told ThinkProgress. “For faith groups whose creed cannot be reconciled with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the chaplains have to make a choice. If they can’t resolve the conflict, they have to leave.”
And is this not the end game for these people? They want anyone who has Biblical morality out of any positions of influence in this country. Pray for the Lt. Commander. Pray that God will rise and defend His people, and soon.