A senior army chaplain is under fire from twenty-two chaplains under his command because he sent them an email encouraging them to read John Piper’s new book Coronavirus and Christ. They are calling for him to face military discipline, including a possible court-martial for what they say is a violation of their freedom of religion.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper asking him to investigate the action taken by Colonel Moon H. Kim, who is the command chaplain of U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in South Korea. Kim sent an email to thirty-five military chaplains from his Army email address with a link to a free copy of Piper’s e-book and told them, “This book has helped me refocus my sacred calling to my savior Jesus Christ to finish strong. Hopefully, this small booklet would help you and your Soldiers, their Families and others you serve.”
In the letter to Secretary Esper, the MRFF said Colonel Moon’s actions were “clearly meant as a full-fledged endorsement and validation of what the book espouses and proclaims. This, in CLEAR effect, especially to the recipients of his shocking e-mail, Chaplain (Colonel) Kim is likewise endorsing and validating the same dictates as established by the author of this book.”
The MMRF specifically took issue with the theology Piper is known to hold and espouses in the book. First, they complained that Piper holds “complementarian views” and is “opposed to the ordination of women.” They pointed out that some of the email’s recipients were female chaplains.
The letter on the chaplains’ behalf also takes exception with some comments that Piper makes about homosexuality. In chapter 7, Piper said that some people will get the coronavirus as a divine judgment for a particular sin. Piper explained that all judgment is a result of sin in general, but that there are examples in Scripture of God visiting a judgment on someone for particular sins. As an example, he appealed to Romans 1, where the “due penalty” was visited upon men who were “committing shameless acts with men.”
The MMRF said that Piper is “unquestionably attempting to make the case that as LGBTQ people are punished for their sin, the Coronavirus is a punishment for sin also.” Then the added, “What message is sent in a post-DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) Army to Gay and Lesbian Chaplains and Soldiers when the Senior Chaplain on post, a man in a position of substantial power and influence over them, endorses a book which very clearly violates inter alia (among other things), DoD and Army EEO policies and a host of other related regulatory and Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) provisions?”
They conclude by saying that Piper and Colonel Kim are free to believe “such unmitigated drivel.” However, they objected to the fact that Colonel Kim recommended the book in his “supervisorial capacity” and established that the book represents “his established or preferred view.”
In the letter’s last sentence, they said the “demand” that Colonel Kim “be officially, swiftly, aggressively, and visibly investigated and disciplined in punishment for his deplorable actions described above.”
Mike Berry, who is the general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, said Colonel Kim did not violate regulations by sending the email and was operating in accordance with his First Amendment Rights. Berry told The Christian Post that, The MRFF is not only going overboard, it is showing its true colors by asking the Pentagon to punish a chaplain for engaging in constitutionally protected activity.” He added, “Congress has recently and repeatedly taken actions to protect chaplains to share their religious beliefs.”
Berry made it clear that Colonel Kim will have their help if he asks for it. “First Liberty has won numerous cases similar to this before, and I’m very confident we would win this one too.”
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Im Yeongsik