Navy Chaplain Threatened with Discharge for Counsel Against Sexual Immorality Exonerated

ModderCHARLESTON, S.C. — A decorated former Navy SEAL who has served as a chaplain for 15 of the 19 years of his military career has been exonerated of wrongdoing after being threatened with discharge when superiors called his Christian counseling against premarital sex and homosexuality a “recipe for disaster.”

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.

But earlier this month Rear Adm. David Steindl, the head of Navy Personnel Command and deputy chief of Naval Personnel, wrote to Fahs following a review, stating that Modder’s conduct does not warrant detachment.

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“[Your] evidence of substandard performance in this case does not meet the standard of gross negligence or complete disregard for duty,” he said.

An anonymous Navy official made similar comments to the Military Times.

“There is no documentation of poor performance in his personnel record,” he said. “There was no record of counseling. There was no letter of instruction given to Chaplain Modder by the command and non-judicial punishment was not conducted.”

Michael Berry with the Liberty Institute, which has been providing legal assistance to Modder, told reporters that he believes that situation is largely due to a homosexual officer who was assigned to be Modder’s assistant. The officer filed a complaint against Modder after learning about his beliefs regarding homosexual behavior.

“I believe some of what the lieutenant has alleged could constitute a military crime—false statements, taking what the chaplain said and twisting or misconstruing it in an attempt to get the chaplain punished,” Berry told Fox commentator Todd Starnes.

“It’s unfortunate that a good man like Chaplain Wes Modder has been subjected to public scorn and ridicule because of a young officer’s witch hunt,” added Liberty Counsel President Kelly Shackelford. “However, truth won the day and Chaplain Modder should be commended for his courage under fire and his long years of service to the United States Armed Forces.”

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