Led by conservative Republicans, the House on Tuesday voted to keep the Defense Department from establishing a corps of chaplains that doesn’t believe in God.
The 253-173 vote on an amendment to the 2014 defense bill came late in the day, according to The Hill, and ended a weeks-long battle by liberal Democrats to include “humanistic” chaplains to the military’s men of the cloth, to cater to the spiritual needs of service members who have no formal religion.
In June, the House Armed Services Committee defeated an amendment proposed by New Jersey Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews to allow the appointment of officers to the chaplain corps “who are certified or ordained by non-theistic organizations or institutions, such as humanist, ethical cultural or atheist.”
Tuesday’s vote by the full House on an amendment sponsored by Rep. John Fleming carries that defeat even further. It codifies a longstanding requirement that military chaplains be affiliated with a religious-faith group recognized by the Department of Defense, a Fleming spokesman said Wednesday. There are 210 such groups, the spokesman said.
Fleming said the amendment was necessary because of the role chaplains perform.
“By definition, chaplains minister to the spiritual needs of our men and women in the armed services, a vital function that an individual without any inclination towards spirituality would not be able to perform,” Fleming said, according to The Hill.
Other Republicans said the Democrat effort to establish non-religious chaplains is part of the left’s overall war on religion – a war being carried into the military itself.
“The secular left is so invested in ripping God from everything that I must stand here … to prohibit Obama’s Department of Defense from establishing an oxymoron — atheist chaplains,” Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., said according to The Hill.
“Why does the secular left insist on ruining the integrity of the chaplaincy to serve their agenda of institutionalized godlessness?”
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