U.S. Navy Official Denies ‘Religious Accommodation’ Request of Chaplain Facing Discharge

ModderCHARLESTON, S.C. — A U.S. Navy official who issued a “detachment for cause” to a chaplain who is under fire for his counsel against fornication and homosexuality has now also denied an religious accommodation request from the chaplain.

As previously reported, last December, several sailors allegedly filed complaints against Chaplain Wes Modder, a 19 year decorated military veteran with 15 years in the chaplaincy, stating that he was guilty of discrimination for the way that he had provided counsel regarding issues of sexual morality.

In a “detachment for cause” letter dated Feb. 17, Navy Capt. Jon Fahs, NNPTC commander, branded Modder as being “intolerant and “unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment.”

Among the incidents that Fahs cited as being inappropriate, included an alleged statement to a female sailor that she was “shaming herself in the eyes of God” for having sex outside of marriage, “berating” another female for becoming pregnant out of wedlock, and advising several other sailors that homosexuality was wrong and goes against human physiology. He also noted that Modder said that if policies conflicted with his faith, he must still stand for his faith.

Fahs contended that to allow other students to be exposed to Modder would be a “recipe for tragedy.” Calling Modder’s counsel “misconduct,” he recommended the chaplain’s removal.

As Modder was provided an opportunity to respond, he submitted a request for religious accommodation, which was denied this past week. Fahs opined that the chaplain already had freedom to exercise his religion, but that he was “insensitive” in his counseling.

“In your case, I find that your ability to express your religious beliefs during pastoral counseling has not been restricted or substantially burdened,” he wrote in his response letter. “Rather, the decision to relieve you from your duties was based upon your failure to uphold the core capabilities of chaplains … and the professional standards of conduct … ”

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“Specifically, under the core capability of ‘care,’ you have the duty to be sensitive to the religious, spiritual, moral, cultural and personal differences of those you serve,” Fahs continued. “Your inability to comfort and counsel in a manner that was respectful of the counselee while maintaining dignity and professionalism … led you to be relieved of your duties.”

The Texas-based Liberty Institute, which is providing legal assistance to Modder, says that it will appeal the decision.

“They (the complainants) were looking for someone to simply tell them what they wanted to hear. And when they didn’t hear what they wanted to hear, they complained,” said attorney Mike Berry.

“We will not sit by while Navy officials completely disregard federal law on religious freedom. The stakes are far too high,” added CEO Kelly Shackelford. “The future religious liberty of every service member and chaplain in the U.S. military hangs in the balance.”

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  • thoughtsfromflorida

    If you can’t do the job as required by your employer, you are terminated. Nothing more complicated than that.

    • Mary Waterton

      BS. Tell that to Christian employers who might like to terminate atheist or homosexual employees whose lifestyle behaviors are negatively impacting their business.

      • Paul Hiett

        And how would the private lives of employees negatively impact the business?

        • Mr. Avatar

          Paul, your logic is nor logic, everyone knows there is no such thing as a separation of anything in life. Fragmentation only weakens a person from being rooted with all aspects of their life being part of the whole. This separation idea that our courts have used is flawed and is used to enslave the minds of good people. This started back in 1947 when our first amendment was subverted by our own supreme court to go against the very thing it was meant to protect. Religious freedom!

      • thoughtsfromflorida

        I’d be happy to. Do you have some names for me to contact?

        An employee may be legally fired, regardless of what protected group they belong to, as long as there is documented evidence that they are not performing the duties of their job.

  • Gary

    It seems the Navy’s idea of a chaplain is someone who will confirm the choices of those who come to him for “advice”. The navy has made it into kind of a joke. All the more reason to avoid the military.

    • Paul Hiett

      Your mistake is assuming that the Chaplain has a “right” to force his viewpoint on others. He is not there in that position to evangelize his faith.

      ““Specifically, under the core capability of ‘care,’ you have the duty to
      be sensitive to the religious, spiritual, moral, cultural and personal
      differences of those you serve,”

      This is where he failed. He made it about himself, instead of others.

      • Gary

        I was not aware that chaplains can “force” their viewpoint on anyone. If the role of chaplains is only to confirm whatever beliefs or choices those who come to him have, then chaplains are useless.

        • Paul Hiett

          You clearly don’t know what the role of a Chaplain is in the military.

          • Gary

            I think the article gives me a pretty clear picture. It is as I described it.

          • Paul Hiett

            No, Gary, you’re 100% wrong. Learn what the role of a CHaplain is. There’s a lot of information you can find through Google.

          • Gary

            All I need to know is that the Navy considers Christianity to be something they want nothing to do with. That is enough information for me to know that the Navy is something I don’t want to support. And the same goes for the other branches of the military. They are all anti-Christian.

          • Paul Hiett

            “Chaplains serve as sounding boards and mentors, as well as religious
            leaders, for service members of all ranks. No matter their own specific
            religious denomination, chaplains minister to military members of all

            Now what does that mean?

      • weswel

        Paul, the Chaplain does have the right to offer advice. That’s why there is a plural chaplaincy, representation for plural and diverse faiths. In fact, it’s his or her job to represent his or her faith to the soldiers who self-identify as sharing that faith. He advised against fornication, which, by the way, would be punishable by jail time for the soldiers involved, were they caught.

  • Oshtur

    Yes Gary, that would be the best solution if a minister only wants to minister to those of their faith the military chaplaincy is not for them. Positions are very limited, it would be best if they stayed in the private sector if they can’t, as a representative of the government, respect the religious liberty every servicemember has a constitutional and statutory right to have.

  • weswel

    So his offense is being “intolerant and “unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment.” How can the environment be “diverse and pluralistic” is only one viewpoint is acceptable?

  • OldArkie

    Those who deny Jesus are the intolerant ones, yet they claim to be tolerant. And any time we Christians express the views of Jesus, they show much hate for us, trying to take our rights from us. But, we know this world hated Jesus, and if we truly follow Him it will also hate us.