NAVY CHAPLAIN RISKS
Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Gordon Klingenschmitt is risking his military career and a possibly humiliating court martial to stay true to his basic Christian beliefs.
The courageous clergyman staged a hunger strike in front of the White House earlier this year to protest his right to pray "in Jesus name." His Navy bosses, predominately Catholic chaplains from the "old boys' network," are said to want to slap down Klingenschmitt, an evangelical Protestant pastor who doesn't "fit in" with the chaplain "establishment."
To say that the 38 year-old Air Force Academy graduate - he transferred to the Navy in the 1990's - is "politically incorrect" is putting it mildly. The chaplain will not compromise on watering down his message of salvation and has made more than his share of enemies among the top brass as a result.
PRAYING IN FRONT OF THE WHITE HOUSE
They were embarrassed when Klingenschmitt got national publicity praying in front of the White House. And now they have hit him with a penny-ante "charge" they hope will end his tenure as a military chaplain.
The Navy lieutenant, who refused a captain's mast, will likely be court-martialed on a supposed violaton of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. His accusers claim the chaplain should not have worn his uniform while making "partisan" political comments in front of the White House. A Navy flack was quick to state the action taken was in no way an attempt to censor the chaplains' right to pray.
Klingenschmitt says he had "written permission" from his superiors to wear his uniform when he made the White House prayer, and says his problems arise from the "content" of said prayers, which ruffled the feathers of the brass.
The trouble goes back two years, to a memorial sermon Klingenschmitt delivered on the cruiser USS Anzio for a deceased petty officer. The skipper of the warship got his nose out of joint because he felt the chaplain's remarks were not "inclusive" enough of other religions represented on board the boat.
According to Klingenschmitt, Captain James Carr "punished" him with a less than positive fitness report. The cruiser's captain claims the bad report had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the skippers's opinion of the chaplain's performance of duty.
Since then, a Navy review board declared Klingerschmitt was "without merit" in his charges that his commanding officer "retaliated" on him for using certain Bible quotations.
But the chaplain isn't at all discouraged. He claims the report actually supports what he contends. And he says Rear Admiral Fredreric R. Ruehe, commander of the Navy's Mid-Atlantic region, who signed off on the investigative document, is biased against him.
Klingerschmitt tells Military Corruption.com he's actually looking forward to having his "day in court" with the attention of the nation's news media present. "I will continue to pray according to my individual beliefs," he said. "No one, no matter who they are, has the right to censor what I say from the Holy Bible."
If the Navy "leadership" is crazy and vindictive enough to take this case all the way to court-martial and the glare of public opinion, we feel they will be much the worse for it,.
By all accounts we have, Klingerschmitt is a highly-respected chaplain and principled man, who deserves to be left alone to worship God and minister to Navy personnel.
If the court-martial goes forward, it would and should be seen as an effort to "beat up" on a military clergyman from a smaller denomination by those in the majority. And that could result in plenty of adverse publicity.
The Navy should drop this vendetta and come up with some workable plan where chaplains can worship their God without worrying they will be punished for doing so.