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Chaplains are waiting to see if this week's end to the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) policy offers repercussions for their ability to express their views on homosexuality.

Despite others' initial concerns that chaplains could leave over the repeal, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Carleton W. Birch said that only one out of 2,900 active Army Reserve and National Guard chaplains has left since DADT was repealed. "Chaplains have not left the Army over this issue, nor have denominations that endorse chaplains pulled their chaplains, even though doctrinally they have strong views on the subject," said Birch, spokesman for the Army Chief of Chaplains. The military requires chaplains to be endorsed or sponsored by a religious organization.

Birch said that the military will not require chaplains to perform same-sex marriages. Birch's own faith background requires that he not perform a wedding without premarital counseling. But if he does not do the wedding, he finds someone who can.

"Chaplains will continue to serve according to the dictates of their faith without compromise," Birch said. "Even during the 18 year 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' period, any soldier could come to a chaplain about any issue and that conversation is protected."

However, chaplains have told Richard Land of the Southern Baptist's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in private that they dread potential future conflict.

"They're fearful that there will be interference to preach what they believe to be the truth of the Scripture," Land said. "Will they be forced to perform homosexual commitment ceremonies or homosexual marriages? I predict you'll see a significant number of resignations in the near future."

Twenty-one representatives of religious groups that endorse ...

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Chaplains Watch and Wait after DADT Ends
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September 2011

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