Fox News commentator and serial anti-LGBT misinformer Todd Starnes rushed to the defense of a Navy chaplain who was disciplined after allegedly “discriminat[ing] against students who were of different faiths and backgrounds.” According to a Navy document, the chaplain shamed a female student for having premarital sex and told another student that “the penis was meant for the vagina and not for the anus.”
On March 9, Starnes published a report on the chaplain, Lt. Cmdr. Wes Modder, who was given a “detachment for cause” from his unit after an investigation concluded that he had discriminated against students at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC) in South Carolina.
Modder is now being represented by the anti-gay legal group Liberty Institute, which alleges that Modder is being discriminated against because of his religious beliefs. In his report, Starnes echoed the Liberty Institute's allegation that Modder was punished for his Christianity:
Michael Berry, a military veteran and attorney with Liberty Institute a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases is representing Modder. He accused the military of committing a gross injustice against the chaplain in a letter to the Navy. He told me they will respond forcefully and resolutely to the allegations -- which they categorically deny.
“We are starting to see cases where chaplains have targets on their backs,” Berry said. “They have to ask themselves, 'Do I stay true to my faith or do I keep my job?'”
He said Modder is being punished because of his Christian faith.
In reality, the investigation found that Modder had repeatedly engaged in inappropriate behavior when interacting with students and that “the command has reason to believe” that he “provided false statements in denying statements he made during briefs to students.” According to the “detachment for cause” memorandum written by the NNPTC commanding officer, Capt. Jon R. Fahs:
LCDR Modder was unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment of NNPTC in that he was unable to provide counseling and attend to personal and relational needs outside of a specific faith group context. He failed to show tolerance and respect for the rights of individuals to determine their own religious convictions as required by reference (b). On multiple occasions he discriminated against students who were of different faiths and backgrounds.
The memo also outlines specific discriminatory acts by Modder, including “making an inappropriate hand gesture” while discussing anal sex and suggesting that he had the ability to “save” gay people":