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Army Chaplain Punished for Sharing Faith in Suicide Prevention Class

Carrie Dedrick | Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Army Chaplain Punished for Sharing Faith in Suicide Prevention Class

An army chaplain was chastised for citing the Bible during a suicide prevention class he was leading at the University of North Georgia. Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn allegedly addressed depression with a biblical approach in addition to a secular approach, using his own personal struggle with depression as an example for the class. 

Lawhorn was served with a Letter of Concern after complaints were made about the chaplain talking about his faith during his battle with depression. 

The letter from Col. David Fivecoat read, “You provided a two-sided handout that listed Army resources on one side and a biblical approach to handling depression on the other side. This made it impossible for those in attendance to receive the resource information without also receiving the biblical information.”

Supporters of the chaplain have rushed to defend him, arguing that Lawhorn had the right to share his experience and how he dealt with the illness. 

Michael Berry of the Liberty Institute said, “It took a great amount of courage for Chaplain Lawhorn to discuss his own personal battle with depression. At no time did he consider himself to be in a ‘preacher’ role.”

Berry has called on the army to rescind the Letter of Concern Lawhorn was issued. 

“Not only is it lawful for a chaplain to talk about matters of faith and spirituality and religion in a suicide prevention training class - but the Army policy encourages discussion of matters of faith and spiritual wellness. The fact that one person in the class was offended changes nothing,” Berry said.

Publication date: December 10, 2014