President Barack Obama called a conscience clause for military chaplains in the National Defense Authorization Act “unnecessary and ill-advised.”
The NDAA provision ordered that no member of the armed forces may require a chaplain to perform a rite or ceremony that violates the chaplain’s beliefs, and that chaplains may not be disciplined for refusing to perform such a ceremony.
The provision, which was introduced by now-former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, was a response to Obama’s 2011 repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Religious liberty advocates and chaplains worried that they may be required to violate their consciences by administering sacraments or officiating marriage ceremonies to gay service members, which would be contrary to some religious traditions, including those of the Catholic Church.
“The Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs of a member of the armed forces reflecting the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member and, in so far as practicable, may not use such beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment,” the bill read.
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