I looked back over the archives of this site and was quite surprised at how seldom I write about Southern Baptists. They are all around me, are mostly virulently homophobic, but in the last couple of years haven't had much to say about the subject.
Part of that may be because they are realizing that the denomination is shrinking, (an article in the Birmingham News a few weeks ago pointed out that teen baptisms was down and so future growth of the denomination was in question) and during their "strategizing" haven't wanted to seem too mean spirited (but when has that ever stopped them?).
Anyway, in today's Birmingham News is an article titled "Baptists fear end of Don't Ask" with the subtitle "Chaplains might lose freedom, group fears."
It seems that Southern Baptists have more chaplains in the military (448) than any other denominations (Roman Catholic - 252, Assemblies of God - 119, United Methodist - 110, Seventh Day Adventist - 43, Mormon - 37, Orthodox - 25, United Church of Christ - 17, Islam -10, Judaism - 21, Buddhist -1).
The article says there are about 3,000 active-duty chaplains, so those numbers don't add up. I think the "3,000" includes Reserve and National Guard chaplains, and the other numbers are just Department of Defense numbers.
Here's the fear.
"Southern Baptists...have told Congress and the Pentagon that chaplains
could lose their freedom to preach and counsel against homosexuality if openly
gay members are accepted by the military."
I'm thinking that if I'm in Afghanistan and am worried about an IED maiming me or knowing that the next day my unit is beginning a dangerous offensive in which I may be expected to take another person's (terrorist, woman, child) life and I go to my chaplain for counseling, that I want to hear something other than a preaching about my sexuality.
And under the current policy, since there are no "openly gay" members of the military (wink, wink), and the assumption is therefore that everyone is straight, there is absolutely no reason for a chaplain to be "preaching" against homosexuality anyway.
"Southern Baptist leaders have warned their chaplains may have to leave the
military if don't Ask/Don't Tell is repealed"
So if you can't be over there preaching your intolerance, then you don't think you can be over there making soldiers feel OK about what they are doing? That is weird, man.
During the Revolutionary War, Friedrich Wilhelm Augustin Ludolf Gerhard von Steuben, who was crucial in the modernization of George Washington's army, stands out.
This statue of Von Steuben by Albert Jaegers is in Lafayette Park in Washington DC.
From Gay Military Signal:
Von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge, that cold winter of 1778, with a young
French nobleman who was his 'assistant' and lover. As he spoke almost no
English, Washington assigned two young inseparable officers, who were fluent in
French and were lovers, to work with Von Steuben to translate his work.
They were 20 year old Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton (who was also likely to have been this nation's first mixed race officer) and 24 year old Lieutenant
Colonel John Laurens (who was the son of the President of the Continental
Congress that year, Henry Laurens). Laurens later died in battle, becoming
one of America's first Gay heroes. Their love letters still exist.
So, Southern Baptists, get over it. We were here before you were.