WASHINGTON (RNS) Key evangelical figures have come out staunchly against a proposal to register women for a possible military draft, arguing it would weaken America’s military readiness and is at odds with traditional male-female relationships.
“A nation relying on female combatants is a nation that has been brought to its knees by political correctness,” Andrew Walker of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission wrote on the group’s website.
Last week in Congress, Army and Marine Corps leaders testified in favor of registering women for the Selective Service, which has been required of men who turn 18 since the draft ended in 1973. They would be called up in the event of a national defense emergency.
The discussion comes on the heels of the military’s announcement late last year that it will begin allowing women into front-line combat roles, after years of public dispute and resistance from the Marine Corps, which will soon open about 220,000 jobs to women for the first time.
Support for gender equality in the military comes “without fully considering its impact on combat readiness, team-building, military recruiting for an all-volunteer force and the stability of military families,” former Army Chief of Chaplains Douglas Carver was quoted as saying in Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. “In the words of an old World War I song, who will ‘keep the home fires burning’ when both moms and dads are required by law to go to war?”
Also against the move is Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. He said it’s wrong to “tamper with or compromise a culture’s ability for women to fulfill what is made very clear in Scripture.”
Last month, Mohler joined GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s “Dignity of Life” advisory board. But at Saturday’s (Feb. 6) presidential debate in New Hampshire, Rubio and fellow GOP candidates Chris Christie and Jeb Bush all said they supported female conscription, angering many conservative viewers.
Only Ted Cruz, a Southern Baptist, spoke against the possibility of female conscription.
“It is immoral, and if I am president, we ain’t doing it,” he said the day after the debate.
Chelsen Vicari of the Institute on Religion and Democracy urged Christians to rally against the proposal.
“Forcing mothers, daughters, and our sisters to register for Selective Service would be a tragic mistake,” she wrote on the IRD website. “Not only Evangelicals, but also Catholics and Christian pacifists should speak out. Can the church be silent about the potentially coercive militarization of America’s daughters?”
The IRD’s Marc LiVecche said part of the problem is that men should naturally want to protect women.
“If women are in their ranks, then either gallantry risks jeopardizing combat effectiveness as commanders honor it and shield their women from danger, or commanders override gallantry and treat their women indiscriminately,” he said.