Victory! Navy Chaplain, punished for his faith, wins battle against anti-gay accusations

modder1_leftA decorated Navy chaplain accused of being “intolerant” of gays and nearly booted from the service has been exonerated.

Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Modder, a Pentecostal Christian who once served with an elite Navy SEAL unit, was cleared of any wrongdoing and will be allowed to serve out the remainder of his career and retire with 20 years of service, Military Times reported Friday.

A high-level review by the Navy Personnel Command found little hard evidence of alleged misconduct.  “There is no documentation of poor performance in his personnel record,” said one official, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of personnel investigations.

Modder was accused of having “a behavioral pattern” of discrimination against same-sex orientation last December by his new assistant.  It turned out the assistant—a lieutenant junior grade who was gay and married to his male partner—may have baited Modder into making statements consistent with his faith, which were then used against him.

After years of stellar reviews for Modder, Navy Capt. Jon Fahs, Modder’s commander at the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command in South Carolina, wrote a “detachment for cause” letter recommending the chaplain be removed from duty.

Fahs wrote in his letter that he felt allowing vulnerable sailors to be counseled by Modder was “a recipe for tragedy.”

Fortunately for Modder, and for all our military members of faith who are facing an increasingly hostile, anti-Christian environment, clearer minds and fairer judgment prevailed at the highest levels of the Navy.

A letter sent Sept. 3 by Rear Adm. David Steindl, head of the NPC and deputy chief of naval personnel, to Fahs said the commander’s investigation’s “evidence of substandard performance in this case does not meet the standard of gross negligence or complete disregard for duty” that is required under Navy rules to warrant a detachment for cause, which is filed into an officer’s record and can trigger a board that ends their service.

“This is not only a great day for Chaplain Modder, but for every American who supports religious freedom in our military,” said Michael Berry, the chaplain’s attorney.

Score one for the good guys.  But until the White House has a new occupant—one who cares more for Christians—victories remain hard-won.


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