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Being a chaplain is a matter of faith, not philosophy, Colorado’s Doug Lamborn tells the Navy

Author: Dan Njegomir - March 13, 2018 - Updated: March 13, 2018

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Doug LambornU.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn. (Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette)

The appointment of a self-described secular humanist to the Navy chaplain’s corps is drawing protests from Colorado Springs Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn and 45 of his congressional colleagues. They’ve spelled out their objections in a letter to the Navy.

Lamborn’s office alerted the public and press to the development in a news release Monday, noting the letter by the House members urges the service branch to reconsider the appointment. The Navy Chaplain Appointment and Retention Eligibility Advisory board has reportedly recommended Dr. Jason Heap to serve as a non-religious chaplain.

The appointment would flout the fundamental purpose of military chaplaincy, Lamborn and the other co-signers contend:

The chaplain corps is historically a religious institution that should meet the religious needs of service members. The secular-humanist worldview that Dr. Heap ascribes to does not meet the requirements of the original designation of the role to facilitate religious belief. Not only is this a redefinition of the role, underscored by NDAA report language in 2014 and 2016, it also goes against the Supreme Court’s previous ruling that non-religious beliefs are not protected by the Religion Clauses.

The letter itself states in part:

“The chaplain corps serves religious needs, not philosophical preferences, and the Department of Defense would be shirking its constitutional duty if it were to inappropriately expand — and thus dilute — the chaplain corps.

Lamborn’s office posted the full letter here.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.