Lawsuit: Military Chaplains Banned From Saying "Jesus"

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Lawsuit: Military Chaplains Banned From Saying “Jesus”

 Todd Starnes | Nov 12, 2013

a5415279-c9a3-4d90-97c4-114a96d7faa4Two Baptist chaplains said they were forced out of a Veterans Affairs chaplain training program after they refused orders to stop quoting the Bible and to stop praying in the name of Jesus.

When the men objected to those demands they were subjected to ridicule and harassment that led to one of the chaplains leaving the program and the other being ejected, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday.

The Conservative Baptist Association of America is suing Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki – alleging two of their chaplains were openly ridiculed by the leader of San Diego-based VA-DOD Clinical Pastoral Education Center program.

“Not only was the treatment these men received inappropriate, it was also a violation of federal law and the religious freedom guarantees of the First Amendment,” said John Wells, an attorney representing the Colorado-based denomination.

“No American choosing to serve in the armed forces should be openly ridiculed for his Christian faith,” he said, calling it one of the most blatant cases of religious discrimination he’s ever seen.

Lt. Commander Dan Klender, a Navy chaplain and Maj. Steven Firtko, a retired Army chaplain, had enrolled in the VA’s Clinical Pastoral Education Center program in San Diego last year.

The one-year training program is required for anyone wanting to work as a chaplain in a VA hospital. VA chaplains differ from other military chaplains in that they are limited to working in VA hospitals.

The program, that has affiliates around the nation, is open to chaplains of all religious faiths. However, applicants must have completed master-level seminary work.

There were seven chaplains enrolled in the San Diego program led by Nancy Dietsch, a Department of Veterans Affairs employee with a history of antagonistic behavior towards evangelicals, Wells said.

“She’s been very, very critical of Christians,” Wells told me in a telephone interview. “Instead of teaching anything dealing with faith issues, she’s dealing with a holistic, humanistic approach. It’s the idea that the spirit comes from within.”

The VA did not return my telephone calls, but they did release a statement to NBC San Diego. The VA said the two men were “bullying other classmates and refusing to honor other faith groups.”

Wells said the chaplains were subjected to anti-Christian bigotry.

“And that would be putting it mildly,” he said. “A lot of these so-called liberals are very liberal with their own ideas, but when it comes to somebody else’s ideas, they don’t want to hear it.

Among the allegations listed in the lawsuit:

1. Dietsch told the chaplains that it was the policy of the VA in general and her in particular that chaplains should not pray in the name of Jesus.

2. During a classroom discussion on faith, Firtko said “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Dietsch told the chaplain he was not allowed to quote from the Bible in her classroom.

3. In October 2012, Dietsch told the class she believes God could be either man or woman. When Firtko referred to “The Lord’s Prayer,” she “angrily pounded her fist on the table and shouted, ‘Do not quote Scripture in this class.’”

4. In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting, Klender mentioned during a group discussion on counseling that he would tell a parent that “there is evil in the world.” Dietsch retorted, “You don’t actually believe that do you?”

5. In January 2013, she told the chaplains “there is no room in the program for those who believe they are right and everybody else is wrong.”

6. Later that month she told students that there are many ways to heaven and that one religion cannot be right, while others are wrong. Firtko objected to that statement by quoting Jesus who said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” Dietsch told him to stop quote from the Bible and then stated, “If you believe your beliefs are right, and everyone else’s is wrong, you do not belong in this program.”

The harassment had become so bad by February, Klender withdrew from the program. A week later, Firtko received a letter notifying him that he’d been dismissed from the program.

In July, the pair filed a formal complaint against Dietsch for religious discrimination and violating the Association of Pastoral Continuing Education Standards.

Attorney Wells said it appears the government is trying to establish “a secular humanist-based religion free from any influence of Christian dogma.”

“The most egregious part is the VA supervisor told two chaplains that they were not allowed to pray in the name of Jesus and they could not quote Scripture,” he said.

Wells feared that unless changes are made, Christian chaplains are going to be discouraged from serving in the military.

“Christian chaplains are under a lot of pressure right now and facing a lot of challenges,” he said.

21 Comments on “Lawsuit: Military Chaplains Banned From Saying "Jesus"”

  1. Ellie Maith

    How Nancy Dietsch got to be the head of anything involving the Bible is beyond me. She sounds like Satan himself. This nation is in trouble. Letting this woman dictate who can or can not say or preach the name Jesus is down right an abomination against the Father. You can allow gays and lesbian infiltrate but you can not allow a Pastor to say the name, Jesus, how ludicrous is that. But all in all, these type of people are headed straight to destruction. As for God, he gives them this strong delusion to be the lies they do. it hurts my heart and we are told to pray for them that just do not know the truth…. these are the enemies of the Cross.

  2. MrsJW

    Sadly, this was unfolding before I left the military in 2008. Chaplains in combat zones were restricted in their prayers for the soldiers leaving to go on dangerous missions. So now the VA has adopted the same principles when there are several hundred thousand veterans who need to know Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior…this is absurd & atrocious! Every VA hospital entry way and corridor is crowded with vets who relive their past injuries, killings, and trauma but no one is allowing The Name of Jesus to be uttered to the lost & dying?! I hope that this case gets taken to the high court and The Lord defends these men!

    It is time for us to be strong and of good courage because these giants in the land can and will be defeated!

    1. Ellie Maith

      Luke 9:26
      For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

  3. Stan Rogers

    That’s suppose to happen. Jn 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

    1. Ellie Maith

      As we see and read how the Scriptures are being fulfilled is amazing. We (Saints of Christ) see that this world waxes worse and worse all the time. As a child of the King, keep standing for Christ.

  4. NeNe

    Mark 13:13
    And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

    It is coming CHRISTIANS! Who shall be able to stand.

    1. Kurt

      Ne ne, I was just torn apart on facebook about a comment I made to a relative that thought I accidentally ran over a dog (it was a facebook joke). I told him, that I agree that no one should harm anything that is defenseless, but does he have the same indignation to abortion, his response was no man should have the right to tell a woman what to do with her body. One of my many responses to him was so are you saying your dog has more rights than an unborn child? What are these people doing?

  5. walk23

    and the band played on. Comments, comments and so forth from the army of the Lord. We are to fight back and publicize this atrocity and send letters to the White House, the Joint Chief of Staff, our Congress, have our ministers and preachers exert authority , etc. over this abomination in our military. We have rights too.

  6. Anu ogunlade

    I am so shocked at these news of christians being challenged and attacked. Though our christ has warned us and told us about these days, so it here now and i thimk it will be more open and vicious has the end draws nearer, may the holy spirit continue to uphold and fortify we his children. Especially those going throuhh one sort of discrimination or the other or either in a subtle way or more glarin. The end time is close indeed. Lord GOD intervene and show yourself mighzifully

  7. Briana Conway

    I just recently enlisted in the US Army National Guard and to be reading this is ABSOLUTELY APPAULING and REDICULOUS!!! I mean the lengths that the enemy will go to, to shut the mouths of believers; are angrily disturbing. We as Christians can not allow him/ or them to get away with this. But what’s sad is that we have kept silent for so long and this issue (of being denied to speak the name of Jesus) has gone on for far too long. LETS MAKE A STAND TO SHUT UP THE MOUTH OF THE ENEMY, WHILE EVOKING THE RIGHTFUL CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST! Even with this blatant display of disrespect of our Lord, Jesus Christ as well as our beliefs as Christians we must continue to portray the fruits of the Spirit. Lord I know that when things seem grim you are there to protect your own. The enemy already lost the war, when he decided to challenge the almighty God. We as Christians must be strong soldiers physically, mentally as well as spiritually. Because the enemy has already failed!

  8. Watch Man

    These things must be. Persecution of Christians will intensify here in America as the Lord draws near to His return. Satan is the god of this world, and so he has the legal right to persuade his children to inflict persecution on God’s children. Being a Christian is SERIOUS, and so many people take it so LIGHTLY. All of these lying Bishops, Pastors, Prophets,, Evangelists are really ministers of Satan. We need not only pray for these 2 men who stood up for Truth, but also the lady who’s being used by Satan to do his evil work. She has a soul and Jesus died for her too. Lord help us all to stand when the pressures of being a Christian come to our front door and challenge us to fight for Jesus. lord give us the POWER and BOLDNESS of your Holy Spirit to SPEAK out against the LIES of Satan!!!

  9. Min. Robert Murrell

    I actually saw this first hand while I was stationed in Japan from 2002-2005; first with an Air Force Chaplain. I remember the conversation about a base staff meeting in which the chaplain was told along with other chaplains that they could no longer pray in Jesus. He was very distraught about the prospect of being wrote up if he did. Then there was an Army Chaplain at Camp Zama who was over a Gospel Service in the housing area who never used ‘in Jesus Name, but instead used the phrase ” in His Most precious and Holy name, amen”.
    Being a young saved man at the time; the whole time I was trying to figure out in whose name was he praying then and it was if the people around me were nonchalant about it. It goes to show you what the enemy wants to do. I immediately removed myself from that place. If we are believers we must not give in to the devil’s tactics and schemes no matter where we find ourselves, if they don;t want you praying in uniform in Jesus name, then get out of the uniform. We cannot afford to compromise for anything. It saddens me the very thing our society needs is the very thing that is being rejected and that is Jesus. Saints of God hold onto the Word of God even in the midst of persecution, because some of us may be thrown in prison for a season, but wait on the Deliverer Jesus Christ.

  10. GREATMAN

    EU( THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE) AND ITS EMPEROR ARE COMING AT YOU MANASEH. EVEN WHAT ASSYRIA AND BABYLON DID TO YOU IN THE PAST WILL BE TOO SMALL. BECAUSE YOU HAVE PREFERRED TO LIE WITH A MAN INSTEAD OF A WOMAN, PREFERRED THE WORSHIP OF DEVILS TO THE WORSHIP OF THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, SLAVERY YOU WILL TASTE. ALSO NUCLEAR WEAPONS WILL CRUSH YOUR TALL BUILDINGS DOWN. FEAR AND DISTRESS WILL BE YOUR FOOD. THE SMELL OF GUN POWDER AND DEAD BODIES WILL BECOME YOUR PERFUME. OH! HOW I WISH YOU WILL TURN BACK TO THE TRUTH, TRUTH IN THAT GOOD OLD BOOK. BUT NOW YOU HAVE A KING WHO SAYS THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO HEAVEN BUT NOT THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, I WONDER HOW POSSIBLE IT WILL BE TO GET BACK TO DOING GOOD. IF YOU ARE DOUBTING ME READ THIS…..JEREMIAH 30 v 7.

  11. Kurt

    I was told by a Navy Chaplains assistant back in the 1990’s that as part of their training they were taught how to do services for those of other religious beliefs such as Wicca.

    My question would be how someone be considered a follower of Christ when they are to serve people of all belief systems. I would not want a military chaplain to do any service for me. Nothing personal, well yes it is.

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