Tabletalk: What protections do Christian chaplains enjoy in the military that help to facilitate gospel ministry?
Douglas Lee: The First Amendment is crucial. It provides a covering of religious protection over the chaplain. For decades, U.S. courts have affirmed the religious and free-speech rights of chaplains and all military personnel. The free-exercise rights of military personnel can be provided for only through an authorized chaplaincy.
Congress has also established additional protection through the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act:
Sec 533. Unless it could have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline, the Armed Forces shall accommodate individual expressions of belief of a member of the armed forces reflecting the sincerely held conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member and, in so far as practicable, may not use such expressions of belief as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment.
There are current forces at work that would love to see chaplains muzzled and even forced out of the military and civilian settings. Ultimately, however, chaplains enjoy the sure promises of God such as "He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken" (Ps. 62:2).