Army drops plan to punish chaplain for <I>supporting</I> Army policies


An Army Airborne Ranger (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Henry Villarama)

The U.S. Army has decided not to punish a military chaplain who posted social media statements in support of the Army’s policy and practice, as it had threatened, according to lawyers for the chaplain.

The odd circumstances came about because Chaplain Andrew Calvert posted his comments in opposition to transgenders in the military at a time when that was the official position of the U.S. military.

Later, President Biden flip-flopped that.

So Calvert was threatened with discipline – and in fact told by a commander essentially what he was allowed to believe.

First Liberty Institute confirmed on Thursday that the Army now has agreed that no formal reprimand will be issued against Calvert.

That clears the way for Chaplain Calvert’s record to be cleared so he can be promoted in the future.

“We’re very happy for Chaplain Calvert and we commend the Army for making the right decision,” said Mike Berry, of First Liberty. “No service member should ever be punished because of their religious beliefs.”

Calvert said he looks forward to continue to work with soldiers.

He had been threatened with the career-ending formal punishment over comments he made on a personal social media account.

“Responding to a news article, Chaplain Calvert expressed his religious beliefs and his support for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) prohibition against transgender service members,” the IJ reported.

“At the time of his post, Chaplain Calvert’s statements were fully consistent with and supportive of existing DOD policy. Nevertheless, an Army investigator concluded Chaplain Calvert’s religious beliefs violated Army policy and the Army suspended Chaplain Calvert from his duties as chaplain and considered issuing a formal reprimand,” the institute reported.

First Liberty appealed that action.

He’s served for 16 years, including combat zone deployments several times. His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star and three Meritorious Service Medals.

The complaint against him came from several unidentified individuals.

The IJ reported: “Chaplain Calvert’s post, made from his personal Facebook account that clearly disclaimed any official endorsement, argued that scientific evidence supported the DOD policy at that time. As a Christian minister, Chaplain Calvert felt compelled to comment by his sincerely held religious beliefs. Nevertheless, the Army concluded that Chaplain Calvert’s comments constituted unlawful discrimination. Taking adverse action against any chaplain because of their expressed religious belief violates federal and military law. Meanwhile, Chaplain Calvert’s unit is deprived of its only chaplain because the Army suspended him.”

Further, the institute noted in its statement to Lt. Gen. Robert P. White, who issued the reprimand, that his own actions “against a chaplain in retaliation for his expression of his sincerely held religious beliefs is unconstitutional, and violates DOD and U.S. Army regulations.”

“It is wildly in appropriate and offensive for Col. Trotter, headquarters commander for 3rd SFAB, to state his personal opinion that this has ‘nothing to do with violating or infringing on [Chaplain Calvert’s] religious beliefs’ as the basis… Neither Col. Trotter nor the U.S. Army are capable of determining what does or does not violate or infringe upon any soldier’s religious beliefs.”

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