Chaplain Wes Modder spends his days basically alone in the base chapel. He is no longer allowed into his office. By order of his commanding officer, he is not allowed even to speak to the sailors in his unit. If anyone from his unit comes into the chapel, he may not speak with them.
His commanding officer, Captain Jon Fahs, has taken this unusual step because of complaints lodged against Modder by a handful of sailors who claim he is “unable to function in a pluralistic and diverse Navy.” Modder ran into the buzzsaw of political correctness related to human sexuality.
Fahs requested various actions against Modder, including taking him off the promotions list, separating him for cause, and initiating a board of inquiry. None of that has happened yet and, in the meantime, Modder sits alone unable to help his fellow sailors.
Modder was not even allowed to minister to his unit personnel after a recent suicide in the unit.
Modder and his lawyers at the Liberty Institute have taken the highly unusual step of filing a complaint against his commanding officer. According to Modder’s lawyer Mike Berry, it is almost unprecedented for a subordinate officer to file such a complaint.
An Article 138 complaint allows a subordinate to circumvent the chain of command and complain to higher-ups about a superior officer who has done something wrong.
The Article 138 complaint would force his commanding officer to let Modder do his job and to do it in line with his endorsing denomination.
Modder’s Article 138 complaint will go to Admiral John Richardson, Director for Naval Reactors, who is also President Obama’s nomination for Chief of Naval Operations and a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
If Richardson decides for Modder, he will be allowed to move back into his unit and continue ministering to his men. It would not clear up the existing charges against Modder who could still be kicked out of the Navy for, according to his commanding officer, endangering unit cohesion.
Modder is the victim of what amounts to a modern-day witch-hunt whereby gays in the military work to harm others who might adhere to traditional Christian views on human sexuality and marriage.
Modder’s attorneys had asked for an official Religious Accommodation, asking that he be allowed to perform his chaplain duties according to the Bible and his denomination, which is what the Department of Defense and Navy regulations require him to do. This was denied by his commanding officer.
“Captain Fahs denied Chaplain Modder’s request for the religious accommodation based on outdated regulations, which were superseded by new Department of Defense policies, and laws passed by Congress in 2014, said Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs at the Liberty Institute.
“Captain Fahs unlawfully censored Chaplain Modder’s free exercise of religion by denying his request for a religious accommodation,” he said.
“It is unacceptable that Captain Fahs would rebel against federal laws and Department of Defense regulations, which clearly protect Chaplain Modder’s right to minister to service members according to his faith. Captain Fahs’ denial means the religious liberty of every chaplain in the U.S. military hangs in the balance,” he said.
Modder has served for just short of twenty years in the Marines and the Navy, including stints in support of SEAL Team Six. He was deployed many times in the War on Terror and only ever received glowing reviews from his commanding officers.
Members of Congress have spoken out in Modder’s defense. At issue is whether the new gay ascendancy sweeps all before it, including the right to teach and counsel from the Bible.
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse.