The Southern Baptist Convention, whose members comprise the greatest number of active military chaplains have asked their members not to participate in services for same sex-couples. This may include counseling sessions, weddings and couples’ retreats. This is in reaction to the announcement made by US Department of Defense that recognizes same-sex marriages and extends benefits to gay spouses.
In a press release from the North American Mission Board, a Tennessee-based organization of the Southern Baptist Convention, it clearly states chaplains are not allowed to participate in any services that may accept same-sex marriage or unions. The guidelines have also stated NAMB-endorsed chaplains cannot participate jointly in a worship service with another chaplain who is homosexual.
This week’s move to bar Military Chaplains from performing gay marriages comes a year after the Southern Baptist Convention’s public position on same-sex marriage, as seen in this video.
But Doug Carver, former chief of chaplains and a retired Army major general now leading the NAMB’s chaplaincy program, said Convention chaplains would continue with their work, irrespective of sexual orientation, and no chaplain will refuse the services of any personnel who is gay.
The military has 439 chaplains from the Southern Baptist Convention who are active and 268 chaplains on reserve. The total number of active-duty chaplains is 2,884 and 2,375 reserves. Among the service members who are on duty, 140,000 refer to themselves as Baptists and around 13,000 claimed themselves to be belonging to Southern Baptist Convention.