Rep. Collins on military chaplains: First Amendment is never ‘Non Essential’

rep-doug-collinsRep. Doug Collins, R-GA, who has also served himself as a military chaplain, sent a letter yesterday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about military chaplains not being allowed on military bases during the government shutdown — even on a voluntary basis.

Collins sent the letter to Secretary Hagel after CNN and other media outlets reported that contract military chaplains were turned away from their posts as a result of the federal government shutdown.

Collins was the author of  H. Con. Res. 58, which expressed the sense of the Congress that chaplains should be permitted to offer the access to religious expression that they normally provide. It passed the House by a 400-1 vote. A slightly amended measure passed the Senate unanimously.

You might think this will quickly become a moot point since it appears that the government shutdown will end by Thursday.

But the Georgia Congressman said he was looking for clarification “directly from the Pentagon” which make clear the status of chaplains, and by extension the First Amendment,  during this “and any potential future lapse in appropriations.”

“The First Amendment must never be deemed nonessential.  When Secretary Hagel furloughed defense employees, what he thought was a personnel decision was, in fact, a decision with a direct impact on religious liberty and First Amendment rights. I want to offer the secretary the opportunity to clarify himself for not just our military faithful, but every American who cares about the Bill of Rights.”

You can read Rep. Collins’ letter to Secretary Hagel here.


  • Daniel

    Military Chaplians should be preshing the gospel of non-violence and not suporting the military killing machine. Oh how duped Americans are under the guise of patriotism. Jesus was quite clear on this matter – his last words to his disciples was ‘put down your sword’ How hard is this to undertsand? And if your first reaction is – what a liberal, oh how duped you are.

    • Joshua Mercer

      You may be a pacifist, but Jesus is not.

  • Rob

    The Anti-Deficiency Act was codified into law in 1884. The blaming of the current administration for this is mind-boggling.

    • Joshua Mercer

      Yes, but both the House and the Senate have passed resolutions stated that the intention of this law was not to prevent religious clergy from ministering to our troops.

      • Rob

        Fine. If you want to blame the President for the shutdown taking place in the exact same manner as every other shutdown, that’s fine. I won’t partake in such bickering.

        • Joshua Mercer

          Actually, I’m not blaming the President for the shutdown. And for the record, I did not support the shutdown either. I think Rep. Collins has the right to inquire on the policies of the Defense Department regarding chaplains volunteering during government shutdowns — especially since both the House and Senate passed resolutions expresses their intent on the matter. What is wrong with having clarity on this issue? After all, the government could shut down again in January. (I truly hope not.) It would be good to know what would happen.

  • Renee

    Had to be said and I stand with Rep. collins words about the military and religious responsibilities of the clergy. This Gov denial of first ammendment rights was very mean spirited and i have lost what little respect i had left for this administration, leaving none.



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