A total of 67 lawmakers — 22 senators and 45 congressmen — signed a one of two letters to Navy leadership demanding the Navy reject Heap’s application.

The senators sent their letter to Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson on March 12.

Meanwhile, congressmen sent their letter to directly to the Navy’s chief of chaplains, Rear Adm. Margaret G. Kibben, after learning that Heap’s application had cleared the first hurdle in the selection process, meaning a Navy board had determined he was qualified to take on the role.

“It is our understanding that the Navy Chaplain Appointment and Retention Eligibility Advisory Group has recommended accepting Dr. Jason Heap to serve as a secular-humanist chaplain,” the 45 Republican members of the House of Representatives wrote in the March 9 letter, which was also sent to Vice Adm. Robert P. Burke, the chief of naval personnel.