Pentagon Officials Face Questioning Over Alleged Attempts to Silence Christian Military Chaplains

Military experts testify on Wednesday (Jan. 29) at a House Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing. Pictured from left to right are, Virginia Penrod, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy; Navy Chief of Chaplains Mark Tidd; Army Deputy Chief of Chaplains Charles Bailey; U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief Chaplain Bobby Page, Episcopal Bishop James Magness. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Military experts testify on Wednesday (Jan. 29) at a House Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing. Pictured from left to right are, Virginia Penrod, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy; Navy Chief of Chaplains Mark Tidd; Army Deputy Chief of Chaplains Charles Bailey; U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief Chaplain Bobby Page, Episcopal Bishop James Magness. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Lawmakers peppered Pentagon officials on Wednesday (Jan. 29) about claims that military chaplains have faced discrimination for their beliefs, and time and again, chaplains and personnel officials said they were unaware of any bias.

Virginia Penrod, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, told the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel that she could not cite specific instances where chaplains had to preach a sermon or oversee a ceremony that conflicted with their beliefs.

“There’s absolutely nothing in policy or code that prohibits a chaplain from praying according to the dictates of their faith,” she said.

In recent years conservative activists have complained that some military chaplains have been restricted in fully preaching their beliefs or have been muzzled or forced to follow policies they disagree with.

The hearing came a week after the Pentagon released an updated “instruction” on accommodating religious practices. Additional updates, including specific policies about chaplains, will be completed this summer, Penrod said.

Members of the panel questioned whether military commanders are allowed to proselytize. Brig. Gen. Charles R. Bailey, the Army’s deputy chief of chaplains, said it would be “wrong” for commanders to say that their faith is superior to any other, but other kinds of private conversations about faith are permitted.

“They’re never told they cannot share their own personal faith of any sort,” he said.

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SOURCE:  
Religion News Service


  

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