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Navy Chaplain Ousted

By Mark Cowan
Family News in Focus

A former military chaplain is fighting to return to the service, alleging religious persecution by the U.S. Navy.

Phillip Veitch's problems with the Navy started with an incident on the U.S.S. Enterprise when he was forbidden to preach in Protestant services. He complained and was transferred to Italy. There, his sermons on salvation by faith alone and the authority of the Bible drew the attention of the command chaplain.

Rutherford Institute lawyer Stephen Aden said Veitch's commander ordered him to stop preaching what his commander called "intolerant" doctrine.

"These doctrines -- traditional, historic Protestant doctrines -- the command chaplain found offensive, divisive, and against the military policy favoring religious pluralism," Aden said. "It is clear that the command chaplain, in this case, felt that he was imposing a directive from higher up on Lt. Comdr. Veitch."

Threatened with court-martial, Veitch resigned his commission. Pentagon spokesman Maj. Tim Blair was asked if there is a written policy controlling the content of a chaplain's sermon.

"There are no regulations, no specific doctrines that are laid out for a chaplain to use, or any kind of censorship put on them," Blair said.

Veitch, who is now suing the Navy, is asking the judge to rule there is a pattern of discrimination against conservative chaplains. He is also asking to be reinstated.

The Navy Chaplain's Corps office declined to be interviewed for this story. 

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