Over 100,000 Americans have expressed their support for a U.S. Navy chaplain who's facing a possible career-ending discipline after he voiced his Christian beliefs on homosexuality and premarital sex during a counseling session with sailors.
In early 2014, a small group of sailors asked for a private counseling session with Navy Chaplain Wes Modder, and asked about the spiritual nature of certain types of personal conduct.
Modder, who has served over 15 years as a Navy chaplain after serving four years in the Marines, answered according to his Pentecostal faith. However, the group of sailors did not agree with Modder's Christian views and later complained.
The commander of Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, Capt. Jon Fahs, sent a Feb. 17 memo to Navy Personnel Command suggesting three different courses of action that the Navy should take against Modder as a result of communicating his Christian belief on homosexuality.
First, Fahs asked that Modder be relieved of his duties and be assigned elsewhere. Secondly, Fahs suggested that Modder be removed from the Navy promotion list, meaning that he would likely never be promoted to the next rank. Thirdly, Fahs recommended that Modder be sent to the board of inquiry, for a "separation proceeding" that could result in Modder being discharged from the Navy.
The social conservative activist organization Family Research Council started a petition in support of Modder and his right to voice his Christian beliefs. As of Friday afternoon, over 55,280 people have signed the petition indicating that they believe Modder was within his rights to explain to the sailors his Christian view on homosexuality.
The American Family Association has also started a movement of support for Modder and set up a webpage making it easy for people to write to their Congress member to voice their outrage with the Navy commander's suggested actions. On Thursday, AFA announced that over 50,000 emails have been sent to all 535 members of Congress.
"I think that it is appropriate for the American public to be outraged over this," Liberty Institute senior counsel Mike Berry, who is legally representing Modder, told The Christian Post.
"This is an outrage. As far as Chaplain Modder goes, he is very encouraged to know that this many people share our outrage," Berry continued. "In fact, it sends a message to him that he has relayed to me, that the American public has his back."
The Liberty Institute has also started a petition in support of Modder.
"Knowing what I know about Chaplain Modder, reading his service records and seeing the awards that he has received, the decorations that he has received, the accolades, the letters of recommendations, to see these allegations and accusations that are now before him that the Navy is trying to use against him, I can't comprehend how this is happening to this American hero," Modder explained in a Liberty Institute video.
Modder has been accused of telling a woman that she was "shaming herself in the eyes of God" for having premarital sex, telling a student that homosexuality was wrong, and that "the penis was meant for the vagina and not for the anus." Also, he allegedly told a woman about the immorality of her being pregnant out of wedlock.
Prominent figures, such as former Arkansas governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and leading evangelist Franklin Graham, have also voice their disapproval of the disciplinary action that the Navy could impose on Modder.
"Today's military planners seem to think there should be nothing but atheists in foxholes, and that includes chaplains," Huckabee, a Southern Baptist pastor, told Fox News' Todd Starnes.
In a Facebook post, Graham, CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said that Navy chaplains shouldn't have to fear losing their jobs when they express their religious beliefs.
"It's a sad day in America when military chaplains have to choose between being true to their faith and keeping their jobs," Graham wrote. "But this is what's happening at every level under the Obama administration."
This is not the first time that the Navy has cracked down on chaplains for expressing their religious beliefs. In December, another Navy chaplain was condemned for telling a suicide prevention class how his Christian faith helped him battle depression.
"It's an outrageous report — one that has become all too familiar in the Obama military, where Christians are being forced underground. Of course, the Defense Department insisted that stories like Modder's would never happen in a post-DADT world," FRC President Tony Perkins wrote in his Thursday Washington Update. "Unfortunately, we have an administration that has little regard for the law, therefore we need to force them to abide by it."
As the pattern of sexual liberty trumping religious liberty in the military and public sector continues, Berry told CP that he thinks the pattern is only getting worse and more severe.
"The overarching theme or pattern is getting worse, but I think this is certainly the worst case that we have seen yet; because really, what is at the heart of this issue is that we have a Christian chaplain who wants to engage in his chaplain duties in accordance with his Christian beliefs," Berry explained.
"Since we have been keeping track at Liberty Institute, every year we compile a survey of religious hostility in America, and one aspect of that survey focuses on the military. Every year, we observe more and more instances like this occurring and they seem to get worse in frequency and severity every single year. This is really not just according to me, or Liberty Institute, but by most people's accounts this is the worst case we have seen yet."