A 19-year Air Force veteran who was relieved of his duties because he disagreed with his openly gay commander over gay marriage is now facing a formal investigation after he told me his story.
Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk found himself at odds with his Lackland Air Force Base commander after he objected to her plans to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. During the conversation, his commander ordered him to share his personal views on homosexuality.
“I was relieved of my position because I don’t agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” he told me. “We’ve been told that if you publicly say that homosexuality is wrong, you are in violation of Air Force policy.”
In one of her first meetings with Monk, the commander expressed concern about the chaplain who would deliver the benediction at her promotion ceremony.
“She said she wanted a chaplain but objected to one particular chaplain that she called a bigot because he preached that homosexuality is a sin,” Monk said.
After he was relieved of his duties, the Liberty Institute filed a religious discrimination complaint on his behalf.
Last week, Monk was supposed to meet with an Air Force investigator tasked with gathering facts about the complaint. But when he arrived, Monk was immediately read his Miranda Rights and accused of providing false statements in a conversation Monk had with me.
“I immediately got the sense that this was retaliation against me for coming forward with my religious discrimination complaint,” he said.
The accusations against Monk are a court-martial offense in the Air Force – and it’s quite possible that the 19-year veteran with a spotless record could be booted out of the military because of his Christian beliefs.
And he’s not the only Christian at Lackland Air Force Base facing persecution for opposing gay marriage, according to Monk’s pastor.
Steve Branson is the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church, about five miles from the Air Force base. He tells me that as many as a half dozen of his church members are currently facing persecution on the base for their religious beliefs.
“Sgt. Monk is just the tip of the iceberg,” the pastor tells me. “Anyone who doesn’t hold to the right view on homosexuality is having a very difficult time.”
Branson said one colonel is not even allowed to voice an opinion on the matter over fears it might cost him his job. Another airman has been brought up on charges eight times.
Christians are under attack, the pastor warned – and Lackland Air Force Base seems to be ground zero.