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Navy: No Destroyer of the Chaplaincy

Tony Perkins · Mar. 23, 2018

If Jason Heap is one thing, it’s persistent. The DC-based humanist had already lost his bid to join the Navy chaplaincy under the Obama administration. He had to know that his application was an even longer shot under President Trump. Still, Heap filed again, hoping Navy officials would be more lax the second time around. Thanks two of the Hill’s conservatives, they weren’t.

Heap’s push to become the military’s first atheist chaplain started back in 2013. He made a big splash with the idea, even taking the military to court when it refused to change the tradition that George Washington started more than 240 years ago. “The Defense Department won all the cases against Jason Heap,” FRC’s Chris Gacek told reporters, “so you’d think that they would leave well enough alone and, therefore, there wouldn’t be a problem in the future. But there is a board called the Chaplain Appointment and Retention Eligibility Advisory Group that is recommending that the Navy accept him as a chaplain.” So, he went on, “even though he couldn’t get it through the courts or through other processes, there’s another group of faceless bureaucrats that have an agenda and are trying to push it.”

The news stunned Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who both serve on their Armed Services Committees. Neither could believe the military was even having this discussion, let alone under a conservative commander in chief. To head off a politically correct disaster, they rallied their troops, firing off letters to the secretary of the Navy and its chief of chaplains with dozens of members’ signatures. Not only would it violate the Defense Department’s own guidelines, but it would open the floodgates to the complete erosion of the unique spiritual tradition of our military.

While neither letter mentioned what the two chambers could do — forcing the Navy’s hand through appropriations riders or other pressure points — branch leaders got the message. This week, Lamborn and Wicker got the news they’d been waiting for: Heap’s request was denied. “The very definition of the chaplaincy was at stake here, so I’m relieved to see the Navy’s response,” Lamborn said. “Appointing an atheist to a historically religious role would’ve gone against everything the chaplaincy was created to do. It would open the door to a host of so-called chaplains who represent philosophical worldviews and NOT the distinctly religious role of the Chaplain Corps. I applaud the Navy for upholding the truth.”

Wicker was just as relieved. “The Navy’s leadership has done the right thing,” he told reporters. “The appointment of an atheist to [a] … religious position is fundamentally incompatible with atheism’s secularism. This decision preserves the distinct religious role that our chaplains carry out.”

If the military wants to create specific programs for atheists or humanists, it can. There’s no need to hijack the Chaplain Corps to serve them — unless, as I suspect, the real goal had nothing to do with service to begin with. Either way, we salute the Navy for protecting the integrity of the chaplaincy, “For God and Country.”

Originally published here.

Higher Education: Dividing to Conquer

Most of us don’t need polls to tell us what we already know: America is increasingly divided. But where, exactly, are those splits — and what’s driving them? What Pew Research found might surprise you.

It’s no secret that white evangelicals are overwhelmingly Republican, but what is news is how much that percentage has grown. A larger swath of evangelicals than ever is identifying with or leaning toward the GOP: 77 percent at Pew’s last count. That’s a 16-point increase since 1994. But what’s raised even more eyebrows may be the large defection of white Catholics from the Democratic Party to the GOP. Today, the Republicans’ share of the white Catholic vote is 54 percent, compared to 45 percent two and a half decades ago. Obviously, the Obama-era attacks on conscience, taxpayer-funded abortion, and faith-based groups like Catholic Charities are having a major impact on the voting trends of this once heavily-Democratic population.

Democrats are also reaping one of the only rewards of their anti-faith crusade — a larger share of the religiously unaffiliated vote. It seems that kicking God out of their platform and declaring war on religious freedom made the party more appealing to these small, but growing, number of Americans. “Religiously unaffiliated voters, who made up just eight percent of the electorate two decades ago, now constitute about a quarter (24 percent) of all registered voters,” Pew points out.

Obviously, social media shows us every day just how polarized America has become. But there may also be a growing gap between the two political parties that wasn’t nearly as pronounced as it is now. In the last 17 years, researchers have noticed a big uptick in the percentages of people who identify as “conservative” or “liberal” within their party — a 10-point jump for Republicans and an even bigger leap, 18 points, for Democrats. Conservatives still dominate the Republican Party (making up 68 percent) more than liberals dominate the Democratic Party (who make up 46 percent), but the factions within both are climbing — and fast.

Another area of Pew’s survey that’s incredibly significant is the sharp rise in college Democrats. When you look at the voters who’ve gotten their degrees, a majority of them (58 percent) identify as Democrat. There was a time not too long ago when that number was split right down the middle. Now, it seems more obvious than ever why liberals are fighting to control speech on college campuses. Apparently, these are their most productive recruiting centers! In public schools, the groundwork has already been laid for the intense indoctrination teenagers experience when they leave for college.

What can parents do about that? A lot. The Left doesn’t want you to know what a tremendous influence you can have on the future of America by raising your children to know Christ. First, we have to start at home by teaching our children the truths of Scripture — not just Bible stories, but the truths of God’s Word. As moms and dads, we need to live those truths out and model them at home to our kids. Then, when they’re ready to leave the nest, let’s try to invest in education that affirms what we stand for. If you can, send them to Christian universities and colleges that have a biblical foundation — not to liberal campuses that will only undermine the values you’ve been teaching.

The media would love to say that Pew’s survey is another death rattle for the GOP, that its evangelical support is tapped out. But nothing could be further from the truth. As more evangelicals live up to their name and share their faith, more hearts and minds will change. Our numbers will continue to grow as people begin to live differently and look at the world differently. And that includes their political engagement. Our faith is transformative. If anything, that’s how we secure America’s future.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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