Army urged to protect religious freedom of chaplain punished for supporting transgender military ban

A U.S. Army chaplain leads soldiers in prayer while on overseas deployment. | AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY

An advocacy group comprised of military chaplains has called on the United States Army to intervene on behalf of a chaplain who was punished for sharing his views on transgender ideology on Facebook.

U.S. Army leadership reprimanded Chaplain Major Andrew Calvert for criticizing possible changes to the Department of Defense’s policies on transgender service.

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty released a statement Monday calling on senior Army leadership to dismiss charges of wrongdoing against Calvert for the social media post.

Calvert was expressing views that were consistent with U.S. Defense Department policy at the time, argued the Alliance, and was also expressing his sincerely held religious beliefs on the matter.

“The right to ‘freedom of conscience' is the most sacred belief held by all Americans and proponents of a free society, and that is why it is our first constitutional right,” said Alliance Executive Director Derek Jones, in a statement shared with The Christian Post.

“Chaplain Calvert’s sincerely held beliefs are protected by the First Amendment and our federal courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of First Amendment protection for religious expression such as Chaplain Calvert’s.”

In January, Calvert commented on a news article about President Joe Biden's plans to overturn a ban on trans-identified men and women serving in the Armed Forces, expressing his support for the ban that allows men who identify as women to enter female-only spaces.

“How is rejecting reality [biology] not evidence that a person is mentally unfit [ill], and thus making that person unqualified to serve,” Calvert posted on Facebook.

An unknown party took screenshots of Calvert’s comments and sent them to the Third Forces Assistance Brigade, leading to the chaplain being issued a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand on April 22.

Earlier this month, Calvert filed an appeal to the reprimand, with the chaplain being represented by the conservative law firm the First Liberty Institute.

“Chaplain Calvert is a decorated soldier with an exemplary record. He faces having his career ruined simply because he expressed his religious views on his personal Facebook page,” said Mike Berry, general counsel at First Liberty Institute, in a press release.

“Throughout Chaplain Calvert’s military career, he has personified selfless service and sacrifice, and a desire to provide for the spiritual needs of those under his care. Punishing a chaplain because of their expressed religious belief is illegal and wrong.”

Colonel Myles B. Caggins III, spokesperson for the III U.S. Army Corps, defended the proceedings against Calvert in an emailed statement to The Army Times.

“Calvert was provided full due process and given the opportunity to submit matters to the Investigating Officer,” said Caggins, as quoted by The Army Times. Calvert’s command, after carefully considered the findings of the investigation and all matters submitted by [Calvert], took appropriate administrative action.”

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