Twenty-four members of Congress, both Senators and Representatives, have written a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh about a chaplain disciplined for giving spiritual guidance as part of a suicide prevention briefing to Army Rangers stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. In a handout given to the soldiers, the chaplain provided additional resources, both secular and religious, for those needing help with depression and possible suicidal thoughts.
Shortly afterwards, even though no one had complained, Captain Joseph Lawhorn was given a “Letter of Concern” reprimanding him for the spiritual references.
The Congressmen are demanding answers regarding the action taken against the chaplain, Captain Lawhorn. And they want to ensure that this situation does not become a dangerous precedent for gagging military chaplains. The executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty said, “No chaplain should be disciplined simply for doing his job. “Army health experts and the American Association of Suicidology recognize spiritual health as an important part of battling depression and suicide. The Army’s own Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine resource manual … references spiritual health as part of suicide prevention briefings. Disciplining Chaplain Lawhorn for doing what he was supposed to do is not only a disservice to this honorable officer, but to the soldiers he serves.
The letter from the Congressmen to the Secretary of the Army stated, “We believe this administrative action sets a dangerous precedent for Army suicide prevention initiatives, the role of Army chaplains, and most importantly, the ability for service members to exercise and express religious beliefs as protected under the First Amendment.”
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Contributing Editor, Phyllis Schlafly, is the Founder and President of Eagle Forum, a national radio show host, and a best-selling author.
Used with the permission of Eagle Forum.