Walter Jones, the Republican Representative in North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District has just sent a big F*%# You to non-Christians serving in our military forces.
"We felt there needed to be a clarification" of the rules "because there is political correctness creeping into the chaplains corps," said Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.). "I don't understand anyone being opposed to a chaplain having the freedom to pray to God in the way his conscience calls him to pray."
Today's Washington Post carries a story that will surely slip under the radar with everything else going on in the country. I was going to save it for our Sunday series until I saw that our very own Walter Jones was quoted in the article.
More below the fold....
How could they possibly have accomplished this without heavy opposition? Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee slipped it in on a defense authorization bill and during an election year who is going to vote against the military? There were only 31 votes against the bill.
I haven't had a chance to research this yet, so I don't know who those 31 people are, but each and every one of them will get a thank you from me.
The real kicker for me is that the Air Force and Navy had recently re-written their rules governing prayer to make sure they were not offensive to anyone of any faith when attendance was required. Invoking the name of Jesus is acceptable at voluntary services and chaplains may pray as they like. This just isn't good enough for the Christian right.
Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition and other evangelical Christian groups have lobbied vigorously against the Air Force and Navy rules, urging President Bush to issue an executive order guaranteeing the right of chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus under any circumstances. Because the White House has not acted, sympathetic members of Congress stepped in.
This time it isn't just the Godless liberals who are outraged at this particular nose-thumbing to the separation of church and state.
Among the provision's opponents is the chief of Navy chaplains, Rear Adm. Louis V. Iasiello, a Roman Catholic priest.
"The language ignores and negates the primary duties of the chaplain to support the religious needs of the entire crew" and "will, in the end, marginalize chaplains and degrade their use and effectiveness," Iasiello wrote in a letter to a committee member.
The National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces, a private association of religious groups that provide more than 70 percent of U.S. chaplains, also objected to the language. "Chaplains represent their faith communities and we endorse them to represent that faith community with integrity and loyalty to that tradition, not to the dictates of their individual conscience," the association's executive committee wrote.
There is a lot more to the bill and this is a very good article, so follow the link above. To be clear, I pray often. I was raised in church. I read my Bible. I believe in God and I have accepted Christ as my savior. But, I would never, ever, ever impose my prayer on anyone else. I especially wouldn't impose my faith on someone who has chosen to put their life on the line every single day to keep me safe.
I am ashamed. I am outraged. I am disappointed.
Onward Christian Soldiers, because Walter Jones doesn't give a rat's ass about the rest of you.