The U.S. Army backed off from punishing a chaplain who faced a potentially career-ending rebuke following a Facebook post in which he questioned whether transgender people possess the mental fitness to serve in the military.
The First Liberty Institute, which legally represented Chaplain Maj. Andrew Calvert, announced Thursday that the Army will not be issuing a formal reprimand against Calvert, according to The Christian Post.
“Calvert recently contested a reprimand he received after posting from his Facebook page his opposition to the Biden administration’s intention of dropping a Trump-era ban on trans-identified troops serving in the armed forces,” The Christian Post reported.
“The Army issued Calvert a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand on April 22 after screenshots were sent to the 3rd Forces Assistance Brigade’s Facebook account of Calvert’s Jan. 25 comment on a news article reporting on the plan to reverse the transgender military ban. An investigator determined that the chaplain had violated a Defense Department directive and suspended him from his duties,” the outlet added.
According to First Liberty, Calvert’s record will be cleared and he will remain eligible for future promotions and assignments.
“We’re very happy for Chaplain Calvert and we commend the Army for making the right decision,” First Liberty General Counsel Mike Berry said in a statement. “No service member should ever be punished because of their religious beliefs.”
As The Daily Wire reported, Calvert stoked controversy in January when he wrote on a military newspaper’s Facebook page: “How is rejecting reality (biology) not evidence that a person is mentally unfit (ill), and thus making that person unqualified to serve?”
“There is little difference [in] this than over those who believe and argue for a ‘flat earth’ despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary,” Calvert, who is a chaplain with the 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade in Fort Hood, continued. “The motivation is different, but the argument is the same. This person is a MedBoard for Mental Wellness waiting to happen. What a waste of military resources and funding!”
So Andrew Calvert is a chaplain on active duty in the @3rdSFAB and he equates trans troops to flat-earthers.
— Naveed Shah 🇺🇸 (@ArmyofNaveed) January 26, 2021
After backlash, the Army’s Security Force Assistance Command released a statement condemning Calvert’s comments and claiming they were “under investigation.”
An advocacy group came to Calvert’s defense, as The Daily Wire reported:
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, which according to their website has “led the effort to secure the religious liberties of chaplains and those whom they serve” since 2011, released a statement Monday urging senior Army leadership to dismiss their charges against Chaplain Major Andrew Calvert.
Explaining they were “gravely concerned” about Calvert’s punishment, the group wrote in part:
“While at the time of his post, Chaplain Calvert’s statements were fully consistent with and supportive of existing DOD policy, it is far more concerning to note that his post was also consistent with his sincerely held religious beliefs – the same beliefs held by the overwhelmingly vast majority of faith groups in the United States who believe transgenderism to be immoral. Chaplain Calvert represents a Christian faith tradition, is a highly decorated soldier, and expressed views within his legal right to express.”
“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 Mike Berry, general counsel at First Liberty Institute, in a press release.
“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.”