A Major's Step Backwards on Religious Liberty

May 13, 2021

The Biden administration doesn't mind if the military has chaplains -- it just doesn't want them to stand for anything. That's the message from the new commander-in-chief, who seems to be picking up right where his former boss left off. Transgenderism in, religious freedom out.

Like a lot of people who've struggled with the whiplash of the new administration, the Army's Chaplain Andrew Calvert struggled to find a good reason for bringing back the gender identity debate in the ranks. When President Biden dedicated one of his first executive orders to overturning the ban on transgender troops, Calvert had a hard time understanding the rationale. The Pentagon, under Donald Trump, had already ruled out the idea as a distraction, an unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars, and a setback for military readiness.

"How is rejecting reality (biology) not evidence that a person is mentally unfit (ill), and thus making that person unqualified to serve," Calvert wrote on his personal Facebook page a couple of days before the decision came down. "There is little difference in this than over those who believe and argue for a 'flat earth,' despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary... The motivation is different, but the argument is the same. This person is a MedBoard for Mental Wellness waiting to happen. What a waste of military resources and funding!"

Almost immediately, Calvert was reported to his commander and an investigation ensued. "We are aware of Major Calvert's social media post," a spokesman for his branch told reporters. The matter is under review, he insisted, before adding, "We support the commander-in-chief, secretary of Defense, and all DOD policies and directives." Calvert, who's served since 2009 and has a Bronze Star, among other awards, didn't have to wait long for the Army's decision. II Corps Commander Lt. General Robert White handed down a reprimand that could essentially end his career. "Your actions," the general wrote, "cast serious doubt on your character and future as a leader in the Army."

Shell-shocked, Calvert reached out to First Liberty Institute, where Michael Berry and company are desperately trying to appeal. "The Army decided that [his] viewpoint, even expressed by a chaplain in accordance with his sincerely held religious beliefs, was impermissible," Mike explained on "Washington Watch." "The hits keep on coming," he shook his head. "History is now repeating itself. We hoped [it] wouldn't. We hoped that [even under Biden] religious freedom would still remain strong in our military... I mean, what's next? Are they going to go after chaplains for what they say from the pulpit during chapel services?"

And of course, the really outrageous piece of this is that under the Trump administration, members of the military were not only openly protesting the president's decisions -- they were applauded for it! "We had uniformed members of our military marching in political rallies and political parades in uniform, expressing openly their opposition to their commander-in-chief's policies. And that was all considered to be perfectly acceptable -- and in fact, something that should be celebrated and applauded by many in the military and in the media. And now you have a chaplain who expresses his support for [what was] at that time was the existing policy of the Department of Defense, and he's being punished. This just goes to show you're only really allowed to have one point of view and one perspective."

Chaplain Calvert's Facebook account clearly states that this is his personal page and he is only speaking as Andrew Calvert -- not a member of the Armed Forces. But that didn't matter to this Pentagon. They don't care that he's a chaplain who's required by his denomination to hold to these values. "If you express your religious views openly and you happen to be a member of the military, they will come after you," Mike warned.

And unfortunately, he believes, the purge is only going to continue. "And we know that that's exactly what the far-Left wants to happen. They want to root out anybody who holds a view contrary to what they believe... And the bottom line is, that's going to hurt our military. That is going to cause people to turn away from military service. We're already seeing problems with recruiting and retention. And if that continues, that's a national security concern." But then, as Joe Biden learned from his old boss, there's only one war that needs fighting in this country -- and that's the culture's.

To show your support for Chaplain Calvert, sign FRC's petition to his commander, Lt. General Robert White. Add your name to the many others who think Andrew's record should be restored and religious freedom everywhere respected.