Scroll To Top

Senate chaplain
cancels appearance at evangelical conference

Senate chaplain
cancels appearance at evangelical conference

U.S. Senate chaplain Barry Black has canceled his scheduled appearance at a Christian evangelical conference after he was pictured with columnist Ann Coulter and other prominent conservatives in a brochure promoting the event. Black told Senate majority leader Harry Reid he wouldn't be addressing next month's "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference because his appearance wouldn't uphold the Senate chaplain's "historic tradition of being nonpolitical, nonpartisan, nonsectarian," Meg Saunders, a spokeswoman for the chaplain, said Thursday.

Saunders said Black, a Seventh-day Adventist and a former Navy chaplain, had received "a very generic invitation" in the fall of 2005 to speak at the conference and had agreed because there was room on his schedule. After learning more about the other speakers and the event's featured topics, Black became "concerned" and canceled his appearance, Saunders said. "He felt the information had been incomplete," she said.

Other featured speakers at the March 2-3 conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., include abortion opponent and Catholic priest Frank Pavone, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. Listed topics include "making America safe for the unborn," "the battle to defend marriage," "homosexuality and the church" and "Darwin's deadly legacy."

The Center to Reclaim America for Christ is an offshoot of Coral Ridge Ministries, an evangelical group led by the Reverend D. James Kennedy. The Reverend Gary Cass, the executive director of Reclaim America, said he had hoped Black would speak about how faith and public service intersect. He said he did not try to disguise the fact that the conference was conservative.

"We are a conservative evangelical ministry," he said. "Our conference is an outworking of our faith. It's not political; it's moral, it's ethical. Does it have political implications? Certainly."

The invitation, sent to Black by Reclaim America national field director Barbara Collier, referred to the event as a "grassroots training specifically inform, train, and equip Christians to be salt and light in their own communities." Collier wrote that Black's appearance "would encourage individual involvement to help restore our God-given freedoms and to defend and implement the biblical principles on which our country was founded."

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an advocacy group, learned of Black's plans to appear from a brochure for the event that pictured the chaplain next to Coulter on the list of speakers, said the Reverend Barry W. Lynn, the Washington, D.C.-based group's executive director. Lynn said he sent a letter to Black objecting to the appearance.

"The chaplain is supposed to represent a variety of faiths, and here he was going to an event that is always partisan, always divisive, always disparaging of other religions other than fundamentalist Christianity," Lynn said.

Saunders said Black decided to withdraw from the conference before receiving Lynn's letter. Roll Call first reported the cancellation in its Thursday editions.

Cass said military chaplains have appeared at past conferences to encourage attendees to consider becoming military chaplains themselves. (Kasie Hunt, AP)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff