Rabbi criticizes Lieberman’s support for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
MONSEY, N.Y. (Press Release)–Orthodox Jews will be among religious leaders and pro-family activists converging on Washington DC on Thursday to protest the latest efforts to hastily repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the House of Representatives. Chief among their concerns are the ways that changes in the armed services rules would seriously compromise religious liberty for military chaplains and religious servicemembers.
In civilian life religious counselors have been punished for not counseling same-sex couples, religious chaplains have been penalized for refusing to allow open homosexuals to lead prayer ceremonies and religious groups have been attacked for not allowing their premises to be used for same-sex commitment ceremonies.
In the military where breaches in discipline carry strict penalties the threat to religious freedom is even greater than in civilian life. If the armed services affirm open homosexuality this would inevitably seriously limit the ability of chaplains to preach, counsel and lead services in accordance with their religion and conscience.
Until this week legislation on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was waiting for a thorough Pentagon review that is in the process of surveying the opinions of 300,000 servicemen and women, and will be complete in December of this year. However this week with only days notice the White House and some congressional leaders ignored warnings from the Chiefs of the various armed services to move prematurely and they proposed amendments to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for immediate congressional vote.
Morale in the United States armed services has throughout its history been rooted in a strong commitment to morality, discipline and the Biblical values shared by many faith communities. These latest moves to undermine the voices of servicemen and women, the majority of whom are opposed to changes in the law, are seen by some religious leaders as another attempt to marginalize and persecute those who adhere to traditional American values.
Some Orthodox Rabbis are particularly disappointed with the role of Senator Joseph Lieberman who wrote the amendment for the Senate armed services committee. Senator Lieberman has frequently described himself as an “observant Jew” and they find it particularly ironic that a self-described religious man would be responsible for threatening religious freedoms.
Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency, a pro-family Orthodox Jewish group observes that since its founding, the United States has in both peace and war put its trust in God. “If we want God to protect the men and women serving in active duty we must do what we can to insist that Congress does not undermine morality in our armed services. The spiritual and physical wellbeing of the United States has always been directly dependent on our commitment to morality. I am afraid of what may happen to us if there is any change in the law.”
Preceding provided by Rabbi Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency.