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.
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 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.
Navy Capt. Jon Fahs, NNPTC commander, cited several specific incidents in which Modder
offered inappropriate counseling to sailors in the command, according to the detachment for
cause letter. The letter states that Modder:
• Told a female that she was "shaming herself in the eyes of god" for having premarital sex.
• Told another student that homosexuality was wrong and that "the penis was meant for the
vagina and not for the anus."
• Suggested to a student that he, Modder, had the ability to "save" gay people.
• "Berated" a student for becoming pregnant while not married.
Commanders felt that allowing vulnerable sailors to be counseled by Modder is "a recipe for
tragedy," according to the letter.
The issue arose after multiple sailors filed equal opportunity complaints about Modder with
the command, alleging discrimination.
When confronted with the complaints, Modder told his command that "he will not follow
Navy policy if it conflicts with his faith," according to the letter.
Officials decided that "counseling is inappropriate in this case" and that Modder "must be
removed from the command."
In 2013, Congress passed a law that no chaplains will be forced to "perform any rite, ritual
or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs."
The command said it is impossible to know the extent of Modder's misconduct because
conversations between service members and chaplains are typically considered confidential.
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.
"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," Witten said.
Modder's 19 years of service includes many glowing fitness reports. He spent several years
providing spiritual counsel to Navy SEALS, and in December received a letter of
commendation from the head of the Navy Special Warfare Command, who called Modder the
"best of the best" and a "talented and inspirational leader."
Modder's Liberty Institute attorney, Michael Berry, said the effort to fire him reflects a
broader cultural change in the military.
"I think what we are seeing is a hostility to religious expression in the military now," Berry
said. "What we're seeing is this new modern, pluralistic, Navy where service members are
encouraged to be hypersensitive, especially about issues of faith, marriage and family."
Commanding officers feel that "if we don't silence this immediately, then somebody is going
to complain that my commanding officer didn't do anything about it," Berry said.
SFA Chapter Commo Sgt Comment (not necessarily the views of the Chapter IX membership): It strikes me as hypocritical that this preacher is called intolerant, when it can be argued that there is also intolerance for the preacher's views. After all, if he wasn't hired to provide a moral compass to service members, then what was he hired for? There seems to be an anti-Christian slant in today's military leadership and the current Administration,...just saying.
Article written by Andrew Tilghman for Military Times.com