Collins to Hagel: Clarify Policy on Chaplains

Oct 16, 2013


Northeast Georgia's Congressman Asks Defense Secretary for Clarification on Religious Liberty During Shutdown

WASHINGTON, Oct 16 -- Congressman Doug Collins (GA-09) wrote to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel yesterday requesting clarification about the status of contract military chaplains during the government shutdown.  Congressman Collins’ outreach to Secretary Hagel comes after multiple news reports that contract military chaplains have been turned away from their posts on American military bases as a result of the government shutdown.

In addition to offering  H. Con. Res. 58, expressing the sense of the Congress that chaplains should be permitted to offer the access to religious expression that they normally provide, Congressman Collins wrote to Secretary Hagel in hopes that clarification directly from the Pentagon could make clear the status of chaplains, and by extension the First Amendment,  during this and any potential future lapse in appropriations.

Congressman Collins said, “The First Amendment must never be deemed nonessential.  When Secretary Hagel furloughed defense employees, what he thought was a personnel decision was, in fact, a decision with a direct impact on religious liberty and First Amendment rights. I want to offer the secretary the opportunity to clarify himself for not just our military faithful, but every American who cares about the Bill of Rights.”

See full text of the letter, with Congressman Collins’ specific questions to the secretary, here.