On Monday, President Biden, reversing a Trump administration policy, lifted the ban on transgender people to serve in the military, a move supported by the majority of Americans. Needless to say, however, the lifting of this discriminatory ban is not supported by conservative Christians, and one Army chaplain, in violation of military policy, was quick to make his contempt for transgender people known on social media. That chaplain, Major Andrew Calvert, is now under investigation by the Army.
Although the Army Times reported yesterday that Calvert is being investigated by officials from the 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, for a single Facebook post, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) was already investigating this bigoted chaplain not just for one post, but for multiple posts denigrating not only transgender troops but progressive Christians as well.
Like the countless other fundamentalist Christian chaplains that disproportionately fill the ranks of our military’s chaplaincy, Chaplain (Maj.) Calvert doesn’t think that Christians who don’t believe exactly as he does are real Christians.
In a post from October, captured by MRFF before he made his Facebook page private, Calvert posted this Bible verse from Genesis: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat of any tree in the garden’?,’” along with a text image that said:
“Progressive Christianity is not progressive at all. It is a regression to the Garden of Eden when the serpent questioned ‘Did God actually say…’”
Calvert’s Trans-bashing comments came in response to the Army Times posting an Associated Press story about Biden lifting the ban, with several Twitter users tweeting at MRFF screenshots of what he was posting.
Calvert began with this gem expressing his “Christian” opinion that transgender people are mentally ill, and comparing them to flat earthers:
“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. 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!”
Other commenters responding to Calvert’s comment, saying that it was he who was unfit to serve as a chaplain in our diverse military, only made this fundamentalist bigot double down on his opinion, feigning a twisted compassion for the poor misguided “mentally ill” transgender people:
“This is not extreme in the slightest. It’s the very definition of conservative. To tell a Soldier to keep running in formation when he has clearly broken his ankle (or even sprained it) is deplorable and uncaring toward the Soldier. To tell someone they are ill, sick, misunderstanding, wrong, etc. is the kindest thing that another person can do for him or her. If you’re an alcoholic (even a “functioning” one) and I don’t say something to you, that would tell you how caring I am or not toward you. The most nurturing counsel I can give to someone who is under the delusion of transgenderism (gender dysphoria) is to recommend professional clinical counseling to assist in the healing process. To not do so, and merely pander to make-believe social whims of the moment, is not only damaging but idiocy. Furthermore, by doing so, I am affirming his/her essential value and human dignity by my true and deeply held care for his/her wholistic [sic] wellness. So, I am not ashamed or afraid to boldly do the very job I am hired to do.”
Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, President Biden’s newly confirmed secretary of defense, would likely disagree that Chaplain (Maj.) Calvert, by treating transgender troops as mentally ill persons in need of professional help, is doing “the very job he is hired to do.” On Monday, Gen. Austin threw his full support behind Biden’s lifting of the transgender ban, saying: “I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban. If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve.”
Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of MRFF, which has 1,100 LGBTQA clients among its more than 72,000 total military/veteran client base, 16 of whom identify as transgender, was disgusted but not surprised by Chaplain Calvert’s comments, saying:
“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) condemns the absolutely repulsive, illicit bigotry and pervasive prejudice spewing from the twisted, poisonous social media ‘mouth’ of U.S. Army Chaplain (Maj) Andrew Calvert regarding transgender people and Progressive Christians.
“MRFF clients from both categories of honorable American citizens in the United States military have registered well founded complaints with MRFF as to the filth Chaplain (Maj.) Calvert has so recently posted on social media in his malicious attempt to defame, denigrate and dishonor them.
“Calvert has absolutely NO First Amendment right to disgorge such malicious libel against transgender people and Progressive Christians as his actions are horribly injurious to the American military’s good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has held for nearly half a century that ‘speech’ such as Calvert’s deliberate and hateful calumnies against transgenders and Progressive Christians, are NOT protected under the U.S. Constitution as he is a member of the American armed forces.
“While transgender military members may be a numerically smaller group, Progressive Christians actually make up the majority of Christians in the U.S. military. Thus, combining both ‘targets’ of his unconstitutional wrath, Chaplain (Maj.) Calvert has actually managed to deliberately disgorge his putrid written excrement against the majority of United States armed forces members.
“The Army must timely, publicly and aggressively investigate and punish this wretched, Old School bigot-imbecile in order to make an example of him and make it perfectly clear that such seething, divisive hatred will NEVER be tolerated in our nation’s military.
“MRFF calls for the United States Army to try Chaplain (Maj.) Andrew Calvert by General Court-Martial.
“If it truly IS a New Day with a ‘New Sheriff in Town,’ after the evil darkness of the white supremacist-loving Trump and his sick ilk, then President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley and Army Chief of Staff General James McConnville now get their very first clear chance to PROVE IT!"
Of MRFF’s over 72,000 clients, 95% are Christians — the kind of Christians that Chaplain Calvert, as a self-proclaimed arbiter of who is a real Christian and who isn’t, probably wouldn’t consider to be real Christians. Many of MRFF’s supporters are also Christians, such as the Christian endorser (credentialer) of Federal Chaplains, who wrote the following to Mikey Weinstein about Chaplain Calvert and the many other chaplains like him:
“Mikey, I am grateful for the work you and MRFF are doing to insure that we have chaplains who at least claim to be there to serve all service-members. The military chaplaincy must decide that chaplains are to PRACTICE pluralism vs merely indicating a willingness to serve ‘in a pluralistic context.’ Heck, the colonial proselytizing missionaries of old were willing to serve in a pluralistic context! They were there to convert ‘the natives’ to the missionaries’ religion [along with exploiting the indigenous people and their lands]. If a clergyperson is not willing to PRACTICE pluralism, they ought not be brought into the services on the taxpayers’ dime to do their agendas!”
Army Maj. Jefferson T. Grimes, a 3rd SFAB spokesman, told Military Times in an emailed statement: “We are aware of Maj. Calvert’s social media post on the Army Times Facebook page. The matter is currently under investigation. We support the commander in chief, secretary of defense and all DoD policies and directives.”
MRFF’s message to Maj. Grimes is:
It’s all well and good to say you “support the commander in chief, secretary of defense” — the commander in chief who lifted the transgender ban and the secretary of defense who wholeheartedly endorsed the action — but words mean nothing without action. You must take real and visible action against Chaplain Calvert and show that his bigoted behavior will not under any circumstances be tolerated.