An Army chaplain is being condemned after sharing how his faith helped him through difficult times in a suicide prevention workshop.
A Letter of Concern issued to Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn accusing him of “advocating one system of beliefs over another” sparked outrage from religious liberty groups.
The letter came on Thanksgiving day. It was issued after a complaint over Chaplain Lawhorn’s presentation at a training session held at the University of North Georgia on Nov. 20.
“You provided a two-sided handout that listed Army resources on one side and a biblical approach to handling depression on the otherside,” Col. David Fivecoat wrote in the letter. “This made it impossible for those in attendance to receive the resource information without also receiving the biblical information.”
Not everyone agrees with the commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Among those is Michael Berry, an attorney with the Liberty Institute. Berry believes the person who filed this complaint “exploited” Chaplain Lawhorn’s “vulnerability.”
“It took a great amount of courage for Chaplain Lawhorn to discuss his own personal battle with depression,” Berry told Fox News.
Berry said that he asked the Army to rescind its Letter of Concern, stating that it violates Chaplain Lawhorn’s constitutional rights.
“Not only is it lawful for a chaplain to talk about matters of faith and spirituality and religion in a suicide prevention training class - but the Army policy encourages discussion of matters of faith and spiritual wellness,” Berry added. “The fact that one person in the class was offended changes nothing.”
Ron Crews, the endorsing agent for military chaplains for Grace Churches International, gave his account of Chaplain Lawhorn’s presentation.
“The chaplain did nothing wrong,” Crews told Fox News. “At no time did he say his was the only or even the preferred way of dealing with depression. And at no time did he deny the validity of any other method.”
Crews went on to commend the chaplain, who wore his coveted Ranger Tab, on sharing his story. “His story involves his faith journey,” Crews added. “He was simply being a great Army chaplain - in ministering to his troops and providing first hand how he dealt with depression in the past. That’s what chaplains do.
“They bare their souls for their soldiers in order to help them with the crisis they may be going through.”