Tony Perkins recently did a blog on “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He makes an interesting case against the proposal to change the law so that homosexuals can serve openly in the military. What is most interesting is that he bases his argument on the view that this change would be a violation of religious freedom.
On the face of it, the change would not seem to violate religious freedom. After all, allowing homosexuals to serve openly does not seem to restrict or violate religious freedom. No one would be required to adopt a specific faith nor would any faith be banned or limited by such a legal change. As such, it is hardly surprising that Perkins does not base his argument on this. What he does, rather, is claim that “all 1.4 million members of the U.S. military will be subject to sensitivity training intended to indoctrinate them into the myths of the homosexual movement: that people are born “gay” and cannot change and that homosexual conduct does no harm to the individual or to society.”
As he sees it, the reason why this violates religious liberty is that people who hold religious views that run contrary to this view “will be denied promotion, will be forced out of the service altogether, or will simply choose not to reenlist. Other citizens will choose not to join the military in the first place. The numbers lost will dwarf the numbers gained by opening the ranks to practicing homosexuals.”
One obvious criticism of his view is that he is resting his case rather heavily on speculation. First, he speculates that if the ban on homosexuals is lifted, then sensitivity training will be mandatory. Second, he speculates that the training will have a specific content regarding the nature of homosexuality and the effect of homosexuals. Third, he speculates that the people who have contrary views of homosexuality will be, in effect, persecuted for their views. Interestingly, his speculation is that they will be treated how exposed homosexuals are treated now (forced out of the service). Fourth, he speculates that the negative impact of this proposal will outweigh the positive impact on enlistment.
While speculation is a critical part of assessing what might be, such speculation needs to be adequately supported. While these things could come to pass, it is easy enough to present an even more plausible scenario: the ban is lifted and military personal are required to attend anti-discriminatory training that teaches them that they cannot discriminate professionally based on sexual orientation anymore than they can based on religion, gender or skin color. Personal who act in a discriminatory way against homosexuals will get in trouble-just as those who discriminate on the basis of gender, race, or religion will get in trouble. Some people who cannot tolerate this will leave or not enlist. However, the impact will be minor and offset by the enrollment of homosexuals and people who are more tolerant.
The above is, of course, speculation-but it seems to be as plausible a tale as Perkins. As such, more evidence is needed before accepting that this change will have the consequences he predicts (or that I presented in my tale).
Also, a rather stock reply to his argument is to use an analogy to race or gender. When minorities and women were legally allowed to serve, all sorts of dire predictions were made. Interestingly enough, these did not come to pass. As such, it is tempting to categorize Perkins’ view as being analogous to views held by racists or sexists. I am not, of course, claiming that Perkins is either of these-just that his position and arguments seem to mirror those views in some important ways.
Perkins goes on to claim that the military is already being “infected” with a pro-gay political correctness. As evidence, he points to one incident: after he made it clear he opposed the change in the law he was dis-invited to a prayer event. While this can be seen as an example of political correctness, one example hardly constitutes a strong argument by example. It is on par with saying that all soldiers are gay based on knowing one gay soldier.
Perkins then leaps down the slippery slope with a rhetorical question: “If I was blacklisted merely for supporting existing law, what will happen to those who oppose the new, politically correct law?” He considers a range of possible dire consequences.
First, he wonders if military ministers will be forced to avoid the biblical passages that refer to homosexual behavior as sinful. My guess is that there will be no more special restrictions on this then there are against using biblical passages that endorse slavery or stoning disobedient children.
Second, he wonders what will happen if a homosexual goes to a military chaplain for relationship counseling. Will the chaplain be free to recommend treatment to “fix” the soldier’s homosexuality? Will the chaplain be forced to provide counseling? There are legitimate concerns here. Of course, chaplains have to face similar challenges. For example, what if a Catholic chaplain is approached by a soldier who engaged in premarital sex while using birth control? What if a chaplain who is opposed to the “mixing of races” is approached by a white soldier who is dating a black person?
In any case, chaplains should be able to handle such situations. If a chaplain thinks that he cannot, he always has the option of suggesting that the soldier seek counseling from someone else. I suspect that the military does not force chaplains to endorse the values of every soldier who seeks counseling nor, do I suspect, does it forbid them from referring a soldier to someone better able to handle the matter.
Third, he notes that chaplains need to be sponsored by a specific religious group. Some religious groups do not tolerate homosexuals. As such, he expresses the fear that the chaplain corps will be overrun by ” Unitarian ministers and homosexual Episcopal priests” while running short of chaplains from denominations that are not tolerant of homosexuality, such as Roman Catholics and Baptists. Presumably this would be a problem because soldiers of these faiths would have a harder time finding an appropriate chaplain.
Of course, if his prediction that people who are against homosexuality would leave or not enlist is correct, then there should be enough chaplains for the few that decided to remain or enlist. As far as a more serious reply goes, it seems unlikely that chaplains would be forced to endorse homosexuality. However, they would be expected to conform to anti-discriminatory polices. This is nothing new-a chaplain whose religious beliefs led him to hold that woman are inferior would not be legally permitted to discriminate against women. There seems to be nothing wrong with expecting professionals to practice non-discrimination.
Perkins’ final assertion is that removing the ban “would mean placing sexual libertinism – a destructive left-wing social dogma found nowhere in the Constitution – above religious liberty, our nation’s first freedom.” While this is a rather nice piece of hyperbole mixed with a bit of straw man, it lacks merit.
First, not discriminating against homosexuals is rather different from sexual libertinism.
Second, removing the ban does not itself constitute an infringement of religious liberty. After all, soldiers (including chaplains) will not be required to become homosexuals, renounce their religious views or adopt a mandatory religion. They will, however, be expected not to discriminate. This does not seem to infringe on religious liberty anymore than, for example, not allowing Muslim soldiers to insist that all women in their presence be forced to cover themselves. Or, to use another example, it does not infringe religious liberty anymore than not allowing Jewish soldiers to demand that no pork be served to anyone in the military. In short, being denied the right to impose one’s views on others is not a denial of religious freedom.
Now, if a law is crafted that requires soldiers and chaplains to believe specific religious doctrines, then that would be a different matter and well worthy of criticism.
Overall, Perkins makes an interesting try at arguing that on the basis of freedom some people should be denied freedom. This reminds me, just a bit, of arguments about how attempts to get rid of slavery imposed on the liberty of slave owners.
Read the comments left on the blog. You’ll see which side most of the hate comes from.
Lord help me, I took your advice, and I took a few minutes to scan through most of those comments. I saw a lot of anger and opposition there–mostly justified. Hatred–not so much. . .
“It is time for the Christian Taliban to give it up”
“DUDE CHRISTIANITY IS VERY HOSTILE AND VIOLENT, YOU PICKET FUNERALS ETC , BELIEVE IN A BOOK BIBLE THE ENDORSES SLAVERY , NO MORALS GOOGLE “BIBLE SLAVERY” FOR BOTH QUOTES IN THE BIBLE AND HISTORY, NEVER DID THE BIBLE TELL THE SLAVE OWNERS TO FREE THEIR SLAVES, IT ALSO PERMIT A MAN TO SELL HIS FAMILY INTO SLAVERY TO PAY OFF HIS DEBTS, NOW THAT THE ABOMINATION, SLAVERY”
“Under your logic, ultimately you would have all gay people hanged or killed at birth.”
“Christians are some of the most negative, hateful, judgmental, hypocritical groups of people I have ever met”
“Hey there, I’m a Christian and I’m very hostile to your brand of Christianity”
“Aren’t you late for goose-stepping drill practice?”
“It’s about Christian dominance, and a last ditch effort to maintain their control over the world. I dunno if you’ve seen the facts lately, but almost 40% of Americans now have disowned organized religion”
“Religion is the root of all evil.”
“Bravo! I truly believe that religion could be the downfall of this country”
I only made it down about 1/10th of the list of comments….
“This reminds me, just a bit, of arguments about how attempts to get rid of slavery imposed on the liberty of slave owners.”
Yes. Very much like unto slavery.
We’ll see what side the top brass eventually take after duly diligent research.
In the end, bigotry is bigotry is bigotry—whether it appears to some to bear Biblical support or not.
Of 120 posts (1/10 of the claimed 1200+ posts for that article) you think the nine you present are proof of hate and not anger or mere disagreement.
I “hate” to do this, but. . .
One of your chosen quotations is “Hey there, I’m a Christian and I’m very hostile to your brand of Christianity”
Let me present a very similar quotation. “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” So sayeth Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Man, that Mahatma-whoever-he-was must’ve been a really hateful bastard. . . 🙁
Here’s another post from Perkins’ article–straight from the heart of TIMOTHY IN CHRIST JESUS:
“LET’S CUT TO THROUGH THE MUSTARD! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “GAY(MALE OR FEMALE)” CHRISTAIN. iF THEY SAY THAT THEY ARE; THEY ARE LIEERS AND KNOW NOT THE TRUTH., BUT ARE CHILDREN OF THEIR FATHER SATAN.
JESUS SHALL REMOVE THE TARES FROM THE WHEAT DURING THE JUDGEMENT DAY; READ PSALM 1″
Hatred? Anger? Disagreement? Or just poor spelling and punctuation?
I hate the taliban, afterall, they hang people for drinking beer.
Root of all evil? Who wouldn’t hate the root of all evil?
“Christians are some of the most negative, hateful, judgmental, hypocritical groups of people I have ever met” ~~Who wouldn’t hate that?
“Under your logic, ultimately you would have all gay people hanged or killed at birth.”~~I’d hate that if I thought it were true.
And I “lack all respect for” the so-called “Christian Taliban” for their simplistic view of the world and the world hereafter. Should I “hate” the Catholic church, it’s leaders, and more than a handful of its followers for contradictions such as the following?
Yeah, we should just start bunking and showering with women in the military too. Sensitivity training for 1.4 million people. that has to be cheap. Oh, and how many people actually find sensitivity training useful? I know we’ve all done it. Did you learn anything you didn’t already know?
Perhaps it’s like trying to teach the concepts of exercise and proper diet for improving health. Some people are capable of benefiting from the training;they get healthy and stay healthy. Some can recite the facts about fat and calories, but the ability to apply the concepts eludes them. Drives within them block the proper application of the information they’ve been provided. In a short while they’re back to being their fat, unfit selves. Others don’t understand anything. You can waterboard them. Beat’em with a stick. Apply thumbscrews. They’ll simply never understand a thing.
Then there those whose metabolic makeup will keep them fat forevermore.
Michael LaBossiere says
So, should women be banned from military service?
I don’t think the military needs to use sensitivity training. My own experience has been that such training is a few hours of BS and nonsense. What would be needed is basically a quick class in the rules of expected behavior. The main thing to get across is don’t discriminate and act professionally.
This should be a piece of cake for men and women who are trained to unquestioningly take orders, who join the service because it provides structure (rules).
“My own experience has been that such training is a few hours of BS and nonsense”
You wouldn’t believe how much of my time is spent on this stuff in the army. More will be added…
Nonetheless. Let them join at this point. Don’t care at this point.
Michael LaBossiere says
I can see the value in a focused training session on professional behavior-at least for people new to a profession or after a major law/policy change.
Recent poll taken is very interesting in this saga.