Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Navy Chaplain Crosses The Line

Back in December, I wrote about a Navy Chaplain who was complaining that the politically correct Chaplain Corps was putting too many restrictions on his freedom of religious exercise. I explained why I thought LT Gordon Klingenschmitt was wrong, and opined that his "hunger strike" at the White House was tacky, but said that "I guess as long as he's not in uniform, he's probably not breaking the letter of any laws..."

It looks like now that he's crossed the line, and is apparently being brought up on charges for appearing at a press conference in front of the White House late last month, in uniform, to "call attention to what they said are restrictions on military chaplains who pray in Jesus’s name".

"Klingenschmitt said he received a letter Friday from Capt. Lloyd Pyle, commanding officer of Norfolk Naval Station, summoning him to a captain’s mast, an administrative hearing that could result in a reprimand. He said he has not decided whether to accept the summons or to insist on his right to a court-martial.
"Pyle’s letter said the chaplain violated Navy regulations by “wrongfully wearing his uniform while attending and participating in a news conference in support of personal views on political and religious issues.”

Fair enough. Since he's not attached to a ship, he has the right to waive Captain's Mast and request trial by court martial. In the next paragraph, though, Klingenschmitt completely jumps the shark:

"Klingenschmitt called the charge “an attack against my religion” and “a reprisal in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act.”

I suppose the Whistleblower Protection Act provides protection for self-important jerks as well as anyone else, but since he seems to have made his complaints to the press, rather than a Congressman or other designated person, I'm not sure he'll get very far with this line of defense. Especially since there are no restrictions on praying in Jesus' name at designated Christian worship services; it's only when it is reasonable to expect that there would be personnel of other faiths present that it's considered "bad form" to do so.

Don't get me wrong; with very few exceptions, military Chaplains are wonderful officers who perform a great service. This guy is one of the exceptions.


Blogger CDR Salamander said...

Yep, shark jump. He needs to find another outlet for his energy.

4/30/2006 12:29 PM

Blogger Skippy-san said...

The beauty of his defense though is that he gets to drag the Navy through the mud and make it look anti-religious at the same time. The PR onslaught if properly managed will be big, and in the end he will still be gone from the Navy. But the Navy will be the one made to look bad.

4/30/2006 9:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get the facts before you decide, here:

The chaplain had prior written permission from his command (and Navy Uniform Regs) to wear his uniform at this event, provided he limit his remarks to only prayers, which he obeyed. It's an open and shut case, and the chaplain will win.

5/06/2006 9:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read his web site and no where is it documented he had prior written permision to wear his uniform as he claims. In fact, a supeior commissioned officer ordered him NOT to wear his uniform to the Press Conference the day before the event.

"He's accused of violating an order not to appear in uniform at news conferences in support of personal or religious issues."

The charges have nothing to do with his prayer. Military regulations prohibit military personnel from attending or participating in public protests and demonstrations while in uniform. If he had attended in civilian clothes, it would have been fine. Even if he had not said a prayer and only attended in uniform, he still would have been in violation of military regulations AND the direct order of a superior commissioned officer who had ordered him not to wear his uniform the day before the event. The chaplain is not above the law that applies to every member of the Armed Forces across all branches. He willfully and knowingly disobeyed. This is an open and shut case. The chaplain was wrong and should be held accountable for his actions.

5/06/2006 11:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The document proving the chaplain had prior written permission to wear his uniform is here...particularly paragraph 4 page 4:

His commander told him in writing, that Navy Uniform Regulation "permits a member of the naval service to wear his or her uniform, without obtaining permission in advance, incident to attending or participating in a bona fide religious service OR OBSERVANCE." Does reading the prayer for the armed forces count as a religious observance? All he did was prove otherwise the Navy brass will be forced to argue that his prayers were "not a religious observance." Good luck.

5/11/2006 2:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following is quoted from Klingenschmitt's web site:

"Yesterday at Naval Station Norfolk Chaplain Klingenschmitt's superior officers directly ordered him not to wear his uniform today, because we openly admit that today's event is NOT a divine worship service, it's a press conference. And the chaplain's prayers today are'ceremonial' prayers or religious elements added to an otherwise secular event. This is NOT a worship setting."

By his own admission -

"... he wore his uniform in direct violation of yesterday's explicit orders from his superiors."

Navy Uniform Regulations:

"1401.3.b.($).(b). Members of the Navy and Marine Corps, including retired members and members of reserve components, are PROHIBITED from wearing uniforms of the naval service while ATTENDING or PARTICIPATING in a demonstration, assembly, or activity knowking that the purpose of the demonstration, assembly, or activity supports personal or partisan views on political, social, economic, or religious issues, except as authorized by competent authority, or incident to attending or participating in a bona fide religious service or observance."

Klingenschmitt admits the event was a press conference protesting Navy policy. He admits he wore his uniform in violation of a direct order not to wear his uniform to the event. Even if he had said NO prayers, the mere wearing of his uniform violated Navy Uniform Regulations since the event was not a religious service. Merely saying prayers does NOT make it so.

5/14/2006 6:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

open and shut case. chaplain disobeyed orders, both a written general order and a direct order.

A chaplain must tend to ALL servicemembers.
A chaplain must obey the restriction on 'no politics while in uniform'.

5/23/2006 7:19 AM

Blogger LargeBill said...

The bottom line on this should go back to what are we as taxpayers paying him for? Was he hired to tend to the spiritual needs of sailors, help them deal with being away from home, improve command morale? Or was he hired to fight over a sticking point with his commanding officer? Even chaplains have to follow orders. All of us in the military have had CO's give orders we may have disagreed with or didn't like following, but we followed lawful orders.

5/23/2006 8:36 AM

Blogger C. Edward Hughes said...

Everyone seems to forget that the chaplain's fight has been going on for a long time and the Navy has failed to support his Constitutional right to pray publicly for the troops -- and to pray in the name of Jesus, as all Christians do. It is very much an essential part of the 'free exercise' of religion, which right the Constitution expressly guarantees.
The orders previously received by the Chaplain's commanding officers to omit the name of Jesus from prayers are absolutely unlawful and completely absurd.

6/04/2006 11:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I wonder how many of those behind him now would be as vociferous in their support if it were a Catholic Priest who asked Mary to join her prayers with ours to God on our behalf (Rom. 15:30) or if it were an imam who said "Merciful Allah, come to our rescue!"

My vote to Klingenschmitt is "consider your audience and say what's appropriate, just like everybody else." He stepped over the line. Doesn't the Navy teach people to admit when they're wrong?

8/12/2006 6:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess this issue is done now that he has been convicted without even putting on a case. What happened to wanting his day in court to show the world he was being persecuted, to get his "message" out and draw attention to his "cause."

Notice he compared himself to Rosa Parks? What a coward, and what a crappy naval officer. He got what he deserved.

9/28/2006 12:27 PM

Blogger NavyChaps said...

The whole issue with Klingenschmitt is that he committed a Federal Crime by protesting the Navy in his Navy uniform. (How's that for someone being really stupid?) The fact that he prayed while he committed his crime was absolutely immaterial. Klingenschmitt knew that he was committing a crime when he did it because he passed out press releases comparing his "civil disobedience" to that of Rosa Parks. Now, he continues to whine all over the country because his civil disobedience ended up in his federal conviction. If it just wasn't so stupid, it would be really funny.

1/25/2008 10:23 PM

Anonymous abnchap said...

"Self-important" is an apt description of Gordon Klingenschmitt. I knew him before he entered the Navy Chaplaincy. He had personal problems then and refused wise counsel. I encountered him again in FEB 2007 when he successfully convinced my former Chaplain Endorser that he was a great American victim who was getting a raw deal from the Navy but was otherwise a righteous man. Since my former Endorser already had lawsuits filed against the Navy for some alleged promotion inequalities among charismatic chaplains, I'm sure Gordon saw his opportunity to secure a new endorsement since the Evangelical Episcopal Church had revoked his Endorsement to serve on Active Duty as a Chaplain. Gordon was given the Endorsement by Jim Ammerman and I suppose remains affiliated with the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches in some capacity even though he was thrown out of the Navy and is no longer a military chaplain.
I too am appalled that this man gets away with this game he is playing. It will eventually catch up to him. Galatians 6:7
"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." What sickens me is that I still hear and see his pitiful rantings going out as the Gospel over Christian radio and the Internet.
As an Army Chaplain serving on Active Duty, I am disturbed and embarrassed that this man continues to use his former credentials as a Navy Chaplain as some form of credibility. And it is shameful how he is dragging in the dirt honest, evangelical chaplains who are trying to do the right thing and serve the Lord and their Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines with honor and integrity.
I remember well the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches Conference of FEB 2007 in Dallas when my wife and I had lunch with Gordon. I had heard a little about his ordeal, but hadn't really dug very deeply into the whole mess. So I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and hear from him personally on the matter.
Of course, we had barely ordered when he had to politely excuse himself in order to conduct a radio interview. It was during this time that the newly named Endorser of CFGC warned me about Gordon. He apparently knew much more about him than did I. I assured him that I simply wanted to give him a fair hearing. After lunch, I still had some questions but he had sufficiently snowed me because I participated in an ordination service at the Conference in which the President and Founder of CFGC, Chaplain (Colonel) (ret.) Jim Ammerman was in effect accepting Gordon into our fold. The next day Chaplain Ammerman gave Gordon the floor. He wasn't far into his propaganda before I began seeing through this megalomaniac. First of all, he represented himself as a Navy Chaplain and yet he was no longer a chaplain. He had been stripped of his standing as a chaplain and was now an undesignated line officer because he had lost his endorsement due to his poor performance as an officer. He was very self-serving in his presentation and sounded much more like a politician or a traveling salesman than a preacher or a professional military chaplain who was proud of his service to God and Country as such. He carried so much disdain and animosity for the Navy and for authority in general.
What caused me a great deal of consternation was when the current Endorser stormed out of the room as Gordon took the podium and began to speak. I wondered what was going on but wanted to hear him out. He had promised to go into more detail in his presentation so I stayed around.
When he had finished his pitch, two Navy Chaplains asked to offer some balance to what Gordon had said. They were very gracious in their remarks but came out pretty strongly against Gordon and for the very Navy commanders he had railed against. Their story of service in the Navy was much different. They enjoyed a great deal of religious freedom and did not agree with Gordon's assessment of the lack of religious liberty or fairness within the Navy.
After the rebuttal, I went to find out why our new Endorser had stormed out at the beginning of Gordon's speech.
I was shocked to learn that Chaplain Ammerman had done an end-run around the man he had named to succeed him by secretly asking Gordon to speak against the new Endorser's better judgment. Apparently they had sparred over the issue of Gordon's Endorsement and podium time prior to the Conference. The successor voiced his disapproval. Chaplain Ammerman assurred him that this would not take place. When confronted after the endorsement and presentation, Chaplain Ammerman simply said, "I knew you wouldn't approve, so I didn't tell you ahead of time."
This was yet another instance of Chaplain Ammerman not allowing a successor to succeed. The current Endorser saw he was not going to have the ability to lead the organization in the direction he thought it should go, so he left the Conference and his new position before ever really getting a chance to succeed.
Because I could see the handwriting on the wall, I followed him to another Endorsing Agency as quickly as I could.
I agree with the owner of this blog site that most military chaplains are honorable men and women of God who serve their troops and commanders with integrity and with a great deal of freedom, I might add.
It is important to use discretion when praying publicly in settings where troops are ordered to be present such as formations at a change of command. But there are many ways to pray after the manner of our Lord that are not offensive even in those settings. And certainly in worship settings a chaplain has the liberty to exercise his or her faith in accordance with the tenets of their faith and in keeping with the style of worship they are conducting (ie, Collective Protestant, Gospel, Liturgical, Gen-X, Charismatic, etc.)
As for Gordon K., I mean no ill will toward this Brother (and I would refer to him as such). He is misguided and no doubt needs to seek professional and pastoral counseling to address some serious personality issues. I pray the Lord is gracious to him and pulls him away from the public eye quickly so that he cannot continue to discredit himself and inadvertently bring discredit to the military chaplaincy and the greater Christian community.
A word about Chaplain Ammerman and I'm out. He is an incredibly anointed man of God with amazing gifts, leadership abilities and vision. He had a tremendously successful career as an Army Chaplain and then went on to found an organization that provides Ecclesiastical Endorsements to nondenominational charismatic chaplains through the Armed Forces Chaplain Board. He has numerous chaplains in all branches and components of service as well as many chaplains endorsed to serve in civilian institutions. The Lord has given him two illustrious careers in which he has served nobly. However, it is time for him to step down and allow one of his successors to succeed and take the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches to the next level.

Very Respectfully,

11/19/2008 6:02 PM

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