The author of “Chaplains in no-win situation on ‘don’t ask’ ” (Opinion, Alexander F.C. Webster, Aug. 25) embellishes the consequences of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He claims that allowing homosexuals to serve openly will “shred the social and moral fabric” of the military.

I remember being a college student in Boston when Massachusetts became the first state to permit gay marriage. The same hyperbole of society being ripped apart was used by conservative and religious organizations then, too. I visited Boston a few months ago to find that life in the Bay State was going on just fine.

The author claims that ending the policy will result in a “celebration of the ‘gay’ lifestyle” followed by intentional recruitment of homosexuals, “ideological indoctrination,” and discrimination of supporters of the policy. I challenge the author to provide evidence for these unwarranted and dubious fears. Nowhere in the repeal legislation does it call for any sort of gay recruitment or brainwashing. The “slippery slope” he refers to is one of his own imagination — used to support groundless claims of where repeal will lead. Ending the policy will allow gay servicemembers, who are already serving, to live without the trepidation that they will be forced out of the institution they serve simply for being themselves.

Finally, the author does indeed present a frightening reality — one in which the religious institutions he mentions are allowed to dictate social policy. While it is in their right to express an ecclesiastic view on the subject and oppose it within their own organizations, these religious groups must not be allowed to become the morality police of the government or military. The military does not need organizations such as the Southern Baptist Convention or the Orthodox Church of America legislating morality. That, indeed, would be “ideological indoctrination.”

Ensign Steve Khanoyan

USS Harry S. Truman

Applying morals to the military

I find it interesting, if not appalling, that despite the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state there are those among the clergy who would presume that the teachings of their religion be codified as law, even though those teachings violate the rights spelled out in the Constitution. To me, “Chaplains in no-win situation on ‘don’t ask’ ” (Opinion, Alexander F.C. Webster, Aug. 25) [states that] only heterosexuals have the right to defend the Constitution. It is hypocritical to insist that only heterosexuals are fit to defend the Constitution when that document applies to all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.

A point of contention I hold with the author is his insistence of moral righteousness based on his beliefs. I have served in the Army for more than 17 years, many of them as an infantryman. Anyone who spends a weekend in an infantry barracks among soldiers recently returned from deployment cannot tell me that moral purity is foremost on their minds. It is dishonest to perpetuate the fallacy that the military is some sort of moral compass for society.

The bottom line is that the chaplain corps exists to provide spiritual support to servicemembers, regardless of religion or belief system. That chaplains minister to the needs of certain religions is, in fact, separate from their role as advisers to the commander and counselors to the unit. A chaplain’s religious views may form his morals, but that does not give him the right to insist that those same morals apply to the military as an institution.

Capt. Jacob M. Czekanski

Camp Slayer, Iraq

Policy rooted in dishonesty

I read with incredulity Father Alexander F.C. Webster’s Aug. 25 column (“Chaplains in no-win situation on ‘don’t ask’ ”), in which he asks readers to believe that rescinding the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy will “shred the social and moral fabric of our armed forces.”

I find it startling that anyone could possibly believe that the social and moral fabric of the U.S. armed forces is so fragile that it teeters on a policy that is rooted in dishonesty — a policy that requires tens of thousands of people to lie every day of their lives about who they are and what they are so that they don’t lose their livelihood and so they can continue to serve their country. It seems to me to be a rather perverse morality that postulates that dishonesty, not honesty, is the best policy. I have never heard of a morality based on dishonesty before.

I know Father Webster. He is an affable fellow. Witty. Knows his baseball. Fun to talk to. But I find the small-mindedness of his ideas shocking

I suggest that people take Father Webster’s advice and contact their representatives in Washington about rescinding “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I also suggest they send a copy of Father Webster’s column along with a note stating that they do not endorse his morality of dishonesty or the discriminatory policy — don’t ask, don’t tell — that it has spawned. In the marketplace of ideas, the best defense against bad ideas is insuring their free expression.

Jerry Collins


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