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Army Chaplain Appeals Career-Ending Reprimand: His Crime? He Expressed His Religious Beliefs Online

05-14-2021
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The U.S. Army has harshly reprimanded a highly decorated chaplain for an old post on his personal Facebook page supporting the Department of Defense's (DOD) exclusion of transgender service members, which was DOD policy at the time the post was made. 

Chaplain (Major) Andrew Calvert was punished after expressing his religious beliefs in a news article in support of the DOD policy. 

But an Army investigator concluded Chaplain Calvert's religious beliefs violated Army policy and the Army has suspended Calvert from his duties as chaplain.  

First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty law firm, represents Calvert and submitted a rebuttal to the investigation on his behalf in March 2021. On April 22, Lieutenant General Robert P. White, the commander of Fort Hood, Texas, issued a formal reprimand against Calvert, effectively ending the chaplain's career.  

First Liberty is now appealing the reprimand in an effort to save Chaplain Calvert's career and his reputation.

According to the First Liberty Institute, Calvert's post, made from his personal Facebook account that clearly disclaimed any official endorsement, argued that scientific evidence supported the DOD policy at that time.  As a Christian minister, Calvert felt compelled to comment based on his sincerely held religious beliefs. Nevertheless, the Army concluded that Calvert's comments constituted unlawful discrimination. But First Liberty argues that taking adverse action against any chaplain because of their expressed religious belief violates federal and military law. 

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Meanwhile, Calvert's unit is deprived of its only chaplain because the Army suspended him.

"Chaplain Calvert is a decorated Soldier with an exemplary record. He faces having his career ruined simply because he expressed his religious views on his personal Facebook page," said First Liberty Institute General Counsel Mike Berry. "Throughout Chaplain Calvert's military career, he has personified selfless service and sacrifice, and a desire to provide for the spiritual needs of those under his care.  Punishing a chaplain because of their expressed religious belief is illegal and wrong."

Calvert has 16 years of service in the Army and has deployed to combat zones numerous times. His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star and three Meritorious Service Medals.

As CBN News reported in February, Calvert's Facebook page can no longer be found on the social media platform. The Daily Mail noted in a screenshot of Calvert's profile, he had listed at the top of the page, "Christian, Husband, Father, Pastor, Army Chaplain. Opinions are those of the writer alone."

Until a few years ago, service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender, but that changed under the Obama administration, the newspaper noted. President Trump had essentially halted Obama's trans military policy, but then-President Biden reinstated it.

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