MRFF and AU Write Letter
About Klingenschmitt

Thursday, April 23, 2009

By Ed Brayton

Everyone's favorite loopy ex-chaplain, Gordon Klingenschmitt, is back in the news again. My friends at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and Americans United have written a joint letter to the Chief of Naval Operations complaining that Klingenschmitt is still using his military status and uniform to promote political causes, which is exactly why he was punished by the Navy in the first place. The full text of the letter below the fold:

April 16, 2009

To: Admiral Gary Roughead, United States Chief of Naval Operations

We write today with information concerning Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain whom we believe is attempting to create the false impression that he is still an active-duty member of the U.S. armed forces.

As you may know, Klingenschmitt was involved in a dispute with naval officials in 2005-06 over the types of prayers he was expected to offer at public events. After a series of such clashes, Klingenschmitt was removed from the Navy in 2007.

We were surprised, therefore, to see the enclosed e-mail message from Klingenschmitt dated March 30, 2009. The e-mail includes a photo of Klingenschmitt in a naval uniform and it is signed by "Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt."

Anyone reading this message who was unfamiliar with Klingenschmitt's history would assume it was coming from an active-duty chaplain. This appears to be a deliberate attempt on the part of Klingenschmitt to create this impression. He would like to exploit the prestige of the U.S. Navy to promote his latest venture, a website with political content called

This site, which also includes a photograph of Klingenschmitt in uniform, includes an appeal for donations, noting that funds may be given over the Internet via credit cards. (See enclosed screen image of the homepage of Klingenschmitt's Web site, captured April 16, 2009.)

Title 18 USC Sec. 912 Chapter 43 is clear about misuse of military uniforms. Sec. 912 reads, "Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

By using a photo of himself in a naval uniform and signing his appeal as "Chaplain," Klingenschmitt has, we believe, violated this portion of federal law.

We urge you to investigate this matter and fully enforce the law.

Selected reader comment:

Friday, April 24, 2009

I have had several local pastors/church members contact me regarding Mr. Ks activities. It seems that he peddles his sad, distorted story of persecution and uses that as a basis for soliciting financial contributions. I simply respond to such inquiries by suggesting that they make a critical and rational analysis of the facts and draw their own conclusions. People who are that easily conned probably deserve to be conned!
I continue to notice that Mr. K. has never addressed the fact that he tried to strike a deal with the CNO, stating that he would drop all of his complaints and not mention them in the future if the CNO would give him some financial compensation. When the CNO refused to submit to this attempt at petty extortion, Mr. K. began to elaborate on how he had lost everything and how it was worth sacrificing everything for Jesus and that he would do it all over again!

I also chuckle at the deceit inherent in the reference to self as "Chaps," as though that were a singular term of friendship and endearment attributed to him as one who had won the loyalty and admiration of the crew. In fact, all Navy Chaplains are referred to as "Chaps" by the Navy community at large. The term is used in the same way that Marines use the term "Padre" in reference to the chaplains that serve the Marine Corps. So, even a dishonored chaplain who had been relieved of duty and sent packing by the ship's Commanding Officer would still be referred to as "Chaps."

By the way, I want to take this opportunity to ask if any of you are familiar with Carl Sandburg's poem entitled, "To A Contemporary Bunkshooter"? Sandburg says:
"You come along squirting words at us, shaking your fist and calling us all dam fools so fierce the froth slobbers over your lips . . . always blabbing we're all going to hell straight off and you know all about it.

"I've read Jesus' words. I know what he said. You don't throw any scare into me. I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER. I know how much you know about Jesus."

In his book, "Behind the Masks: Personality Disorders in Religious Behavior," Wayne Oates says:
"Manipulation and coercion become the tools of conquest for antisocial persons. If acting gracious, cheerful and charming will maneuver and subjugate, that is the way to go. If such behavior fails, frustration of their will to power easily turns into furious, vindictive attacks. The people and institutions around them become tools of power. Religion and its pieties are subordinated to the iron necessities of their personal need to control. Here the antisocial and narcissistic ways of life flow into each other and are hardly distinguishable."

Posted by: Norm Holcomb, CAPT, CHC, USN (Ret)

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