After reading about this for two days, I still can’t find a record of precisely what Perkins said to alienate the base chaplain who canceled the invite. If he really has been disinvited for doing nothing more than opposing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” it’s a disgrace. He’s a Marine, he claims he wasn’t planning to say anything political at the luncheon, and he is, after all, in line with the military’s official policy on gay servicemen. (The Corps’ commandant expressed his own support of DADT two days ago.) Disagreeing with The One shouldn’t make you persona non grata. If, however, he said something more incendiary, then it’s a question of how incendiary was it. Politico cites this recent quote on the Family Research Council website — “Do not let our military be used to advance a radical sexual agenda” — which is essentially boilerplate for a religious leader, but Perkins has had more colorful things to say in the past.
Long story short, this is a test case on how the military’s going to balance creating a comfortable environment for gays in the ranks with the rights of religious servicemen to disapprove vehemently. The chaplain’s statement via the Wash Times:
“The Joint Base Andrews Chaplain’s Office sponsors a voluntary, annual prayer luncheon, focusing this year on deployed personnel, families and prayer. The Chaplain’s Office retracted Mr. Perkins’ invitation after his recent public comments made many who planned to attend the event uncomfortable,” the office said in a statement.
“This was a local decision made by the Chaplain’s Office who wanted the luncheon to be inclusive for the entire base community. The Chaplain’s Office respects and defends Mr. Perkins right to express his opinions, and regrets any inconvenience to him. We thank and respect him for his prior military service.”
And Perkins’s reply, seizing the political moment, via CBN:
I am very concerned, however, that this merely foreshadows the serious threat to religious liberty that would result from repeal of the current military eligibility law. Such legislation would not merely open the military to homosexuals. It would result in a zero-tolerance policy toward those who disapprove of homosexual conduct.
Military chaplains would bear the heaviest burden. Would their sermons be censored to prevent them from preaching on biblical passages which describe homosexual conduct as a sin? Would they remain free to counsel soldiers troubled by same-sex attractions about the spiritual and psychological resources available to overcome those attractions?
Conservative leaders are lining up behind him. The civilian protocol here would be to let Perkins speak and allow protesters outside, but political demonstrations aren’t encouraged on military bases. Why not invite him and balance him with a gay speaker at some later date, then? I don’t get it.