A Pentecostal chaplain once assigned to elite Navy SEAL units may be kicked out of the Navy for allegedly scolding sailors for homosexuality and premarital sex, reports the Military Times.
Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Modder was given a “detachment for cause” letter on Feb. 17 after his commanders concluded that he is “intolerant” and “unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment” of his current assignment at the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command in South Carolina.
Modder denies any wrongdoing and is fighting the dismissal with attorneys from the Liberty Institute, which advocates for religious expression in the military and in public institutions. Modder has served more than 19 years and could lose his retirement benefits if the Navy convenes a board of inquiry and officially separate him before he completes 20 years of service.
Christianne Witten, a spokeswoman for the Navy Chaplain Corps, said Modder has been temporarily reassigned to Naval Support Activity Charleston as one of the staff chaplains while Navy Personnel Command officials review the detachment for cause action. In addition, the Pentagon released a statement to Fox News that says:
Chaplain Modder has been temporarily assigned to Naval Support Activity Charleston as one of the chaplains on staff. The detachment for cause action will be reviewed by Navy Personnel Command. The senior chaplain remains in place at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command to provide religious ministry to the students and staff. The Navy values, and protects in policy, the rights of its service members, including chaplains, to practice according to the tenets of their faith and respects the rights of each individual to determine their own religious convictions.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a statement that Modder is being unjustly penalized: “[Modder] is the latest target in a series of assaults on religious liberty in the military and across the nation.”
In an interview with The Daily Signal, Mike Berry, the senior counsel and director of military affairs at the Liberty Institute, called Modder’s case “unbelievable.”
“He’s a pastor. The unit he serves is his congregation,” said Berry. The Liberty Institute, which is representing Modder, has requested that the Navy rescind all three threats against him, and return him to duty and good standing so he can continue his “best of the best” service to sailors and Marines who need him. Liberty Institute has requested a response no later than March 17.