WASHINGTON -- "We don't need you, so shut up!" That's the message the Obama administration has sent loud and clear to America's Roman Catholics. And it's a message now being sent to U.S. military chaplains -- to the detriment of our armed forces.
During World War II, the War Department and the Department of the Navy urged -- the operative word is "urged," not "ordered," mind you -- U.S. military chaplains to encourage soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines that God was on our side in the global battle against fascists, Nazis and the godless heathens running rampant across Asia and the Pacific. The hymns "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" were sung with fervor at chapel services regardless of denomination.
The U.S. military I entered in 1961 still had tens of thousands of men and women familiar with such experience. My regimental chaplain in Vietnam, Cmdr. Jake Laboon, a Jesuit priest, was a decorated U.S. Navy combat veteran of World War II. He routinely administered last rites to grievously wounded -- and often dying -- Marines and sailors without regard to a denominational preference on their dog tags. It's a good thing he was there when I was wounded, because, as others related to me later, he was the one who told the surgeons to "take this one next" while I was unconscious on a triage litter at a field hospital. If he hadn't been there, I might not be here.
All this helps to explain my bias. As a general matter, I like chaplains who do their duty to God and man. I especially admire men like Jake Laboon. And I don't like the way the Obama administration is treating them. This week's order to muzzle what chaplains can say is yet another O-Team salvo aimed at "de-Christianizing" -- and ultimately destroying -- the U.S. military.
The opening shot was fired when President Barack Obama declared in his January 2010 State of the Union address that he would "repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are." (Emphasis added.) The "law" to which the president referred was "don't ask, don't tell," which wasn't a law at all; it was an administrative policy implemented by the Clinton administration. The actual governing law -- Section 654 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code -- states, "There is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces." The president ran roughshod over the law of the land in a political payoff to a preferred constituency.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.