Defense

The Navy’s Next Chaplain Could Be An Atheist — And These Senators Oppose Him

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker is leading a fight to stop the appointment of a “secular humanist” chaplain in the U.S. Navy.

In a letter sent Monday to the secretary of the navy and the chief of naval operations, Wicker, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and 22 other senators are asking why the Navy is even considering the proposal.

According to Wicker, the Chaplain Appointment and Retention Eligibility Advisory Group is recommending the U.S. Navy accept the appointment.

“The Navy has sufficient authority to create programs for humanist or atheist service members,” the senators note in a letter. “The Chaplain Corps is not the appropriate place. The Chaplain Corps serves religious needs, not philosophical preferences. Approving a secular-humanist chaplain would open the door to other applicants representing other philosophical worldviews. Over time, this situation would erode the distinct religious function of the Chaplain Corps.”

Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins says that this is the second time the Navy has been lobbied by Jason Heap to accept him as a non-believing chaplain. The Navy rejected his application in 2015 but now wants to move forward with it.

“Now, with Secretary Jim Mattis at the helm, no one can quite understand why the topic is even up for discussion,” notes Perkins in an FRC post.

Contacted Friday, Perkins told The Daily Caller, “An atheistic chaplain is oxymoronic.”

Wicker, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, has also brought 40 House members on board in his campaign to halt the chaplain’s appointment.

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