Congress backs fired chaplain Wes Modder

(Photo: Wikimedia)The U.S. Capitol

Dozens of members of Congress expressed support for fired military chaplain Wes Modder in a recent letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Chaplains Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben.

The 35 House and Senate leaders urged the officials to "protect military chaplains' freedom to practise their religion according to the tenets of their faith," and heralded Modder's service as a military chaplain. 

The former chaplain was accused of telling a woman that she was "shaming herself in the eyes of God" by having premarital sex; telling a gay person that "the penis was meant for the vagina and not for the anus"; and criticising an unmarried pregnant woman during private counselling sessions. 

Modder was reassigned from his position at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, South Carolina earlier this year, pending the results of an investigation. Through his attorney, Michael Berry of the Liberty Institute, Modder denied the allegations levied against him by a gay assistant.

"The Navy is telling Chaplain Modder – you have to choose between disciplinary action or following your religious beliefs," Berry told Fox News. "Because Chaplain Modder chose his religious beliefs, his commanding officer threatened him with career-ending punishment."

The congressmen, led by Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, agreed with Berry. 

"Navy policy also protects a chaplain's ability to preach and teach consistent with the tenants of his or her endorsing denomination, even when Sailors may disagree with the chaplains remarks," their letter read.

"Chaplains have the right to express their religious beliefs during their conduct of a service of worship or religious study."

Berry plans to appeal Commanding Officer Jon R. Fahs' decision. Mabus and Kibben have not yet responded to the congressmen's letter.