Religious Right Panic: “Anarchy” will Result if DADT is Repealed

Apparently if the US Senate repeals Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this week and allows gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military, marriage and family will be destroyed, the military will dissolve into chaos, religious freedom will be lost forever, military chaplains will be muzzled, rampant adultery, and there will be anarchy! In other words, gays will destroy not just our military, but our civilization!

That’s the overarching message of a press conference held this afternoon by Bishop Harry Jackson and Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council.

Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland and a virulent anti-gay crusader, asserted:

Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will destroy the necessary readiness and cohesion of servicemen and women to perform their duties successfully. Introducing sexual tension and conduct into our barracks will be a distraction from the very business of the military, and that is protecting us from our enemies. The Uniform Code of Military Justice also prohibits things like adultery, so as we look at this slippery slope we’re on, what is the next step? Will we see a move to strike down that prohibition as well?

Jackson and others speaking at the press conference also repeated the charge that repeal of DADT will cripple chaplains who will be forced to “water down their teachings” or perhaps even be barred from military service in the future if they hold beliefs that condemn homosexuality. Austin Nimocks, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, even found a way to mix the concern about rampant sex and religious liberty with over-the-top rhetoric:

No American, especially those serving in the armed forces, should be required to check their religion at the door. The agenda that is pushing the repeal of this legislation (the agenda of sexual liberty and anarchy) does not mix with religious freedom—they are like oil and water. The question we should be asking ourselves is whether you would tell somebody putting themselves in harm’s way for you that they should be denied the spiritual counsel of their chaplain and their God as they are looking at death.

There are several underlying assumptions going on here. One is the false dichotomy of gays versus God. There are plenty of gay and lesbian Christians in the world, and some of them even serve in the military. Being gay does not preclude one from being a Christian or any other religion. There are even gay and lesbian Muslims. Gay and lesbian Christians, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or Wiccans, should not be required to check their religion, or their sexual orientation, at the door when they serve in the military.

There is also an assumption of Christian supremacy. Within the military there is a mixture of religions from Muslim, to Christian, to Hindu, to Wicca. There are even atheists in the military. Chaplains take care of all of them. These opponents of the repeal of DADT make it sound like there are only Christian chaplains in the military—and conservative Christian chaplains at that who won’t get to tell gay soldiers they’re going to hell if DADT gets repealed. Military chaplains are trained to deal with religious diversity—and are far more ready to handle this change than Jackson and the FRC give them credit for.

The biggest underlying assumption going on though is the persistently told lie that gay and lesbian people are wild, lust-filled beasts who cannot control themselves when they are around other people and will invariably—if given half a chance—sexually assault anyone within genital distance of themselves. Nimocks alludes to this with his rhetoric that repeal of DADT is about an “agenda of sexual liberty and anarchy.”

I would direct Nimocks to the military’s own reporting about sexual harassment and sexual assaults. It would seem that the biggest offenders in the military are heterosexual men. The Defense Department reported that sexual assaults in the ranks rose last year by 11 percent. More than 2,000 of those assaults were committed by men against women—up more than 10 percent from 2008.

Women, in fact, are more likely to be assaulted in the military than in civilian life:

Despite the suspected underreporting, sexual assault is more common in the military than it is among the civilian population, the report suggests—two for every 1,000 service members, versus 1.8 per 1,000 civilian women and one per 1,000 civilian men, according to statistics compiled by the Family Violence Prevention Fund.

Perhaps, if Jackson and his friends are worried about sexual liberty and anarchy in the military, instead of seeking to prevent gay and lesbian people from serving their country, they should be doing more to weed out the heterosexual sexual predators in the armed forces.