A decorated Fort Bragg chaplain and his assistant have just been exonerated by the Army after being accused of discriminating against a same-sex couple.
Army Maj. Scott Squires (the chaplain) and his assistant, Sgt. Kacie Griffin, were facing dereliction of duty charges for declining to lead a marriage retreat that included a same-sex couple.
“The United States military is no place for anti-religious hostility against its own military chaplains,” said Berry, who is representing both the assistant and the chaplain. “Chaplains like Scott Squires and Kacie Griffin do not have to give up their First Amendment rights in order to serve their fellow soldiers.”
In a statement from Squires, he says he looks forward to serving his fellow soldiers and resuming his military career.
“I am eternally grateful to First Liberty for covering my six and fighting to restore my religious liberty,” Squires said.
Squire’s troubles acquired national outrage and thousands inundated the Pentagon with emails and telephone calls. Several members of Congress also urged the military to take prompt action.
“The case of Chaplain Scott Squires highlights how imperative it is that we protect freedom of conscience for every individual in the U.S. military – including the chaplains who minister to them as they carry out the military’s mission together,” U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said in a statement.
Squires had been scheduled to lead the military-sponsored marriage retreat called “Strong Bonds,” when in January the same-sex couple asked to participate.
Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) endorsed Squires as a chaplain, and according to NAMB policy, chaplains are prohibited from conducting “Strong Bonds” events for same-sex couples.
It clearly states in the NAMB policy that “endorsed chaplains will not conduct or attend a wedding ceremony for any same-sex couple, bless such a union or perform counseling in support of such a union … nor offer any kind of relationship training or retreat, on or off a military installation.”
Once Squires realized he would not be able to participate in the “Strong Bonds” event, he rescheduled the entire conference to accommodate the lesbian couple with a chaplain who would be able to oversee the retreat. However, the same-sex couple decided not to attend at all.
If Squires had ignored NAMB’s policy and attended the marriage retreat anyhow, he would have risked losing his endorsement by the Southern Baptists. Moreover, the Army requires its chaplains to adhere to their endorsers’ religious tenets and rules.
“I simply did what I’m required to do under Army regulations and my endorser’s rules,” Squires said. “I am shocked that I would even be investigated, let alone threatened with punishment, for following the rules.”
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