As Chaplains in the US Navy:
A federal appeals court has reinstated a long-running lawsuit by a group of current and former military chaplains who claimed the U.S. Navy discriminated against them and so-called non-liturgical Protestant clergy members, including Baptists and Evangelicals.
The chaplains, who filed their original case in 1999, claimed clergy of their religious orders were recommended for promotion by naval selection boards at a significantly lower level than Catholic or liturgical Protestants, meaning their services follow a more standardized ritual.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday revived their lawsuit and ordered that additional hearings be conducted to determine if they were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims. A lower court denied the chaplain’s motion for an injunction against the existing naval process, citing a lack of standing and a likelihood that the case wouldn’t succeed.
“To be sure, plaintiffs here never allege that the challenged policies directly authorize discrimination against or require disparate treatment of non-liturgical Protestants. Instead, they assert that these policies facilitate or exacerbate discrimination by chaplains serving on selection boards,” Judge David S. Tatel wrote. “We take the Navy’s point that the asserted causal link between the policies and the alleged discrimination is more attenuated here than in a case where the challenged policies directly authorize the allegedly illegal conduct.”
He went on,
That said, we conclude that plaintiffs’ allegation that the challenged policies will likely result in discrimination is sufficiently non-speculative to support standing. For one thing, chaplains inclined to vote on the basis of their religious preferences may be more likely to do so under the cover of secret ballots. Moreover, it goes without saying that the small size of selection boards gives potentially biased chaplains more influence over the outcome of the proceedings.
Arthur Schulcz Sr., a lawyer representing 65 chaplains and two endorsing agencies, said the existing procedures allow one member of a selection board to vote in secret and veto a promotion. That’s particularly troublesome when the chief of chaplains or his deputy are allowed to serve on those board, Mr. Schulcz said.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure you have a level playing field,” Mr. Schulcz said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, which argued on behalf of the Navy, declined to comment.
I’ve often felt some similarities between the liturgy, and regimental aspects within the military, at least as it is in so-called ‘High-Churches’, those who place a strong emphasis on formality, ritual and the correct execution of movements. I could see why Clergy who are not ‘sloppy’ (for lack of a better word) would function better in the military.
That said and the above news noted, it’s interesting to factor in that the current Chief of Chaplains of the United States Navy is Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, a Presbyterian. And then there is also this piece from the Navy Chaplain Corps Reform website (the people who brought the above lawsuit):
You will notice than since 1980 there have been three Roman Catholics and four Lutherans in this position.
You will also notice that there was not one Chief of Chaplains from an evangelical denomination until 2006. The early history of the Chaplain Corps was dominated by mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics.
In 1995, Chaplain Larry Ellis did a study of fifteen keys leadership billets in the Chaplain Corps. He looked at the denominations of those who filled those billets from 1980 to 1995. He found that 54% of those billets had been filled by liturgical Protestants, 34% by Roman Catholics and only 12% by nonliturgical Protestants.
That word. Reform.