U.S. Army Reprimands Chaplain for Citing Bible in Suicide Prevention Training Session

ChaplainFORT BENNING, Ga. — The U.S. Army has issued a “letter of concern” to a Georgia chaplain for citing the Bible during a recent suicide prevention training session.

According to reports, Col. David Fivecoat, the commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning, Ga., ordered Chaplain (CPT) Joe Lawhorn, to come to his office on Thanksgiving Day, at which time he presented him with the letter. Fivecoat expressed concern over the content of the session with the 5th Ranger Training Battalion at the University of North Georgia.

According to the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, during the training session at issue, Lawhorn spoke about his past personal struggle with depression when he was a ranger, and explained that he overcame the condition after considering the example of King David in the Scriptures. He also provided other generic resources that he thought may be helpful to those attending the session.

“During this training, you advocated, or were perceived to advocate, for Christianity and used Christian Scripture and solutions,” the letter from Fivecoat read. “This is in direct contrast with Army Regulation 600-20 and violates the Army’s Equal Opportunity Policy.”

He then strictly informed Lawhorn that he needed to be more diverse in this thinking.

“As the battalion chaplain, you are entrusted with the emotional and spiritual well-being of the soldiers in the batallion,” Fivecoat wrote. “You, above all others, must be cognizant of the various beliefs held by diverse soldiers. During mandatory training briefings, it is imperative you create an environment of tolerance and understanding.”

He advised Lawhorn that the letter would be placed in his local personnel file for up to three years, but stated that Lawhorn had several days to submit a response, after which Fivecoat would either file or withdraw the letter.

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But the Alliance saw nothing wrong with Lawhorn’s presentation, so it responded to Fivecoat on the chaplain’s behalf.

“Chaplain Lawhorn did what good chaplains do; he was candid, genuine and authentic,” wrote Alliance Director Chaplain (Col.) Ron Crews, USA Retired. “He spoke from first person to let his soldiers know that he too deals with depression.”

“Revealing his personal struggle with depression required a large measure of courage and mutual trust,” he continued. “His story involves his faith journey. … I also remind you that his use of his faith journey is covered by the Right of Conscience clause…”

Crews asked that Fivecoat’s “letter of concern” not be placed in Lawhorn’s file.

“No chaplain should be threatened for doing exactly what a chaplain is supposed to do,” Crews added in a recent press release about the matter. “Chaplains bare their souls for their soldiers to help them with crises they may be going through. That’s what chaplains do. Chaplain Lawhorn should be commended not condemned.”

A final decision has not yet been issued as to whether the Fivecoat will stand by or rescind his letter.


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  • pastoredsmith

    If the Army truly wishes to stay “religion neutral,” they should at least ALLOW free speech of Chaplains. This example is further proof that the Army actually wants “Atheist zones” (no God) rather than “religion neutral” zones.
    Freedom of Religion and our freedom to express our religious views is being shut down by those who wish to silence Christians. I’d bet the Army would never have said anything had this “chaplain” been Muslim or Atheist and mentioned their religious beliefs.

    • BSDetector

      My alarm went off, came as soon as I could, now down to business….

      Ed, the Army doesn’t want either of those ridiculous things you mentioned. Nothing of yours is being shut down, you are free to continue being the unenlightned waste of matter you are and bamboozle the yokles out of their money.

      Had the Chaplain been Muslim the LOC would’ve apllied all the same as the reason the attendees were there was for Suicide Prevention Training, not for a sales pitch on your flavor of the mystic arts.

      The Commander has the discrection to make an on the spot correct, issue an LOC, an LOR, or get crazy with it. An LOC is nothing. If you were in the military you’d know this, you’d also know there are no Atheist Chaplains.

      Finally you know how we all laugh at the ancient Greeks and Romans for wasting so much time on their pagan gods? Yeah that’s you and all these other groups in a couple thousand years so there’s that.

      • pastoredsmith

        So, you don’t believe in God and you reprimand and accuse me? The Bible calls you a fool (Psalms 14:1) because you stubbornly demand “there is no God.” Talk about causing someone to laugh at you….you are the unenlightened one in this discussion.
        And, you are wrong. Muslims are getting all kinds of special privileges; in the military, in public schools, in government and many other places in spite of the fact that their “religion of peace” teaches and their people practice “killing infidels.” No, you are ignorant. Any Chaplain who is Christian is now forbidden from mentioning his faith. How stupid is that? The church sanctioned his Chaplaincy. God is his ultimate supreme commander and his earthly military commander, from his perch pretending to be more powerful than God, reprimands this man of God for sharing about his God and His healing power? This is absurd.
        So, if you wish to laugh at God, that is your prerogative. Welcome to the USA. You should thank whatever god you serve that you were not born in Iran. You wouldn’t have a head by now, atheist. You call God “pagan,” yet you are the only “pagan” here. Look it up. “Pagan” means “does not believe in God.”
        So, reset your alarm and go back to sleep. Atheism will not prevail.

        • James Grimes

          Thanks for the comeback. He is an Atheist who is trolling this site to seed disagreement among those who participate. His opinions are worthless here.

  • Laura Smith

    What is the point of having chaplains in the army, if they cannot talk about their faith?
    For anyone suffering from depression, I recommend the http://destroydepression.com system.

    Written by a former depression sufferer, it teaches 7 steps which help to eliminate depression from your life.

  • Pax Humana

    We need to start using the UCC AND UCMJ on these turd burglars that want to take YAHWEH EL ELOHIM out of this country, among other forms of civil legislation, period, full stop!

  • Gary

    Christians NEED to realize that the US Government, INCLUDING the military, have aligned themselves against God. That is the reason no Christian should join the military, and why those Christians now in the military should GET OUT! The government, and the us military are now run by God haters. WAKE UP!!

    • David Dechent

      Gary, did Paul flee Rome when he was no longer welcome? I don’t think so.

      • Gary

        Paul didn’t work for Rome. Paul didn’t risk his life for the advancement of Rome, or the defense of it.

    • The Lone Ranger

      My friend their name is Antichrist and it’s not only the Government they are the largest growing belief in the world they have been here for a long time and you can expect it to get worse however………

      1 Peter 3:14

      But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; Don’t worry God is still in control………Isaiah 9:5…

      5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.

      6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

      7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

    • wandakate

      For the most part I have to agree. However, there are many Chaplains in the military like this one in the story that give their all but are scorned anyway because of the attitude of the military. I do think if one has beliefs that are strong the military will get in the way of them, and therefore they should not join the service and if they are already in there, they should consider getting out as soon as their time is up. I had a husband that was retired after 24 years, my youngest daughter was a recruiter and my X son in law was an Army Ranger and still serves as a Major and neither of the 3 of them are/were Christians. The husband passed away, the daughter is no longer in the service, the X son in law is still active duty.

  • Neiman

    If any Christian Chaplain compromises their faith in the smallest degree for any reason, they should stop calling themselves Christians. If they stand fast to their faith and get kicked out or punished, they should take their case to the American people and fight.

    The military has become so politically correct, so feminized, homosexualized and atheist that the writer below is right, no Christian should serve and if serving they should get out, “come out from among them (world) and be ye separate.”

  • Willoughbilly

    OK, I am an unrepentant atheist…however I will be the first to say that getting upset when you ask a preacher to talk to a group is silly, your going to get some scripture. If you don`t want or expect that then have an admin officer do it.

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      God bless you, Willoughbilly, for showing more common sense than the commander of this unit! I vote to put you in Col. “Turncoat’s” place. When can you start?!? 🙂

      You are most correct – of course you will get some Scripture when a chaplain speaks. And, even if someone gets upset with that part, it should be noted that this chaplain was doing nothing more than providing testimony of what worked for HIM when HE encountered depressive states. That is complete free speech anywhere in Amerika. (Or, it used to be anyway.) I find his recommendation – to consider King David and the Pslams – to be quite brilliant as well. He is a super chaplain, that’s all I can say. And, you are a super atheist, Willoughbilly, for coming onto a Christian site and showing such courage in calling out nonsense political correctness! Thank you! Now, please run for the office of President of the American Atheists. They could use a few good men. 🙂

  • Ace Flenniken

    Well, I think it is a shame that military chaplins are being faded out because of bringing the creator and into negativeness showing God is not the need for any positive. Just an absolute SHAME to this country.

  • The Lone Ranger

    This is ridiculous you can’t lay on the horn about a spiritual law because you never know what coat the CO is wearing. Pun intended !