December 5th, 2010
10:05 PM ET

Military chaplains debate role without 'don't ask'

As Congress debates the repeal of the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, military chaplains are doing their own soul-searching.

About 3,000 chaplains currently serve in the military, endorsed by a multitude of faiths, including Christian, Jewish and Muslim denominations. It's a unique culture where chaplains of various beliefs serve alongside one another counseling and caring for an equally diverse congregation of armed service members.

"Some of the most intense and sharpest divergence of views about Don't Ask, Don't Tell exists among the chaplains," states the Pentagon report, released last week, on the potential impact of repealing the policy. The report concludes that allowing openly gay or lesbian troops to serve in the military would have little lasting impact on the U.S. armed forces.

Among the issues raised by chaplains, according to the report, is whether a change in policy would hinder ministers' religious expression, particularly for those faiths that consider homosexuality immoral.

"Chaplains who aren't able to proclaim what they believe is true about this issue ... means that the soldier then, the airman, the sailor, the guardian, the Marine aren't able to get the full opportunity to hear religious faiths," retired Army Chaplain Brigadier Gen. Douglas Lee tells CNN.

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