A U.S. Army chaplain and his assistant have been exonerated from "dereliction of duty" charges that were filed by a lesbian soldier.
The Army Times reported in April that Chaplain Scott Squires was fighting back after an investigation determined he discriminated against the lesbian after telling her she and her same-sex partner weren't allowed to attend a marriage retreat Squires was leading.
Squires is endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention, where the North American Mission Board oversees approximately 1,600 Southern Baptist chaplains in the U.S. armed forces and expects them to adhere to SBC beliefs about marriage and sexuality.
Last week, the commander of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina announced he was abandoning the charges lodged against Major Squires and a chaplain assistant, Staff Sergeant Kacie Griffin.
Squires was represented by attorney Mike Berry, of First Liberty Institute, who argued successfully that Squires is expected to follow the religious tenets of the denomination that sponsors him.
"At the end of the day," Berry tells OneNewsNow, "if anyone has been the victim of discrimination here, it's been Chaplain Squires and Staff Sergeant Griffin."
Both army soldiers were subjected to seven months of hostility, he says, not knowing if their careers were over.
"I'm thankful that a two-star general stepped in and corrected things," says Berry, "but it should never have come to that in the first place."
Speaking to Baptist Press, Gen. Douglas Carver, who oversees chaplaincy for the NAMB, called news of the dropped charges a "significant victory for all who support and defend the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, especially regarding the freedom of religion."