Navy Chaplain

September 13, 1999

The Navy has threatened to court-martial a 12-year Navy chaplain unless he resigned over an issue involving his preaching. Lt. Cmdr. Philip Veitch is a Navy chaplain and an evangelical. And the latest ruling from the Navy seems to imply that being a chaplain and an evangelical are incompatible. He was charged with five criminal offenses which would have been pressed against him if he did not resign.

Cmdr. Veitch argues that he is the victim of religious discrimination. He was banned from conducting any religious activity and eventually forced to resign because his preaching was labeled "unpluralistic" and "anti-priest."

Let's look at each of the charges. First, he was seen as less than pluralistic in his preaching. He is ordained by the Reformed Episcopal Church and told that he had to preach in less dogmatic terms in order to appeal to a broad-based congregation. Another chaplain was ordered to stop ending his prayers with the phrase "in Jesus' name" because it was not considered pluralistic.

The second charge came from a Navy captain with a Catholic background. Cmdr. Veitch in one of his sermons said, "No saint, no minister, no priest, no person ordained or unordained, no one stands between us and God, but Jesus Christ." The captain called the statement anti-priest, but as you can see he said nothing about priests or anyone in the Catholic church.

This case, I believe, demonstrates once again that tolerance--not truth--is the highest value in our culture. Every year society moves further away from absolute values toward relative values. Anyone who says anything that is not all inclusive runs the risk of being called dogmatic, intolerant, and unpluralistic. Cmdr. Veitch is just one more example of a society that values tolerance over truth.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.