On Saturday, the GOP-led House sent a strong message to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel with a resolution demanding military chaplains be allowed to minister during the partial government shutdown without fear of arrest, CNN reported.
On Thursday, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, warned that some bases may not be able to hold Mass due to the shutdown.
"If the government shutdown continues through the weekend, there will be no Catholic priest to celebrate Mass this Sunday in the chapels at some U.S. military installations where non-active-duty priests serve as government contractors," said John Schlageter, General Counsel of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.
Catholics, he said, make up 25 percent of the military, but only comprise eight percent of the Chaplain Corps.
"That means approximately 275,000 men and women in uniform, and their families, are served by only 234 active-duty priests," he explained.
To make up for the shortfall, the government provides government service and contract priests. But these priests are forbidden from working -- even on a voluntary basis -- during a government shutdown.
"During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so," he said.
Fox News' Todd Starnes said a "well-placed source" told him a "furloughed Air Force chaplain was threatened after he offered to forgo pay. The chaplain was told he could not go on base or enter his chapel offices. He was also barred from engaging in any ministry activity."
“Catholic military personnel should not have their religious liberties held hostage by this funding crisis,” said Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. “I find it alarming that these priests cannot even volunteer to provide services without threat of arrest.”
On Saturday, the House passed a resolution demanding Hagel allow the continued performance of religious services on military installations during the shutdown. The resolution overwhelmingly passed with a bipartisan 400-1 vote. The single "no" vote came from Rep. William Enyart, D-Ill.
“We have a Bill of Rights for a reason—that no matter the fiscal condition of the federal government, the rights of the people are guaranteed. This is a week that has seen veterans denied their right to assemble at our national monuments, travelers denied access to roads their hard-earned dollars have paid for, and now chaplains ordered to stop providing religious services to those who are selflessly willing to lay down their lives for ours… Congress is duty bound to act as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the American people, and I am proud that we did so today," said Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican who is also an Air Force Chaplain.
The Catholic League's Bill Donohue chalked up the administration's threat to meanness.
“This idea of punishing Catholics in the military - denying them their priests - is consistent with the animus this administration has demonstrated,” he told Starnes.
CNN reported that shortly after Saturday's vote, Hagel said that most Department of Defense civilian employees "placed on emergency furlough during the government shutdown will be asked to return to work beginning next week.”
"Hagel said his department, along with the Justice Department, concluded that the law does allow the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members," CNN's Dan Merica said.
The partial government shutdown began at midnight on Monday after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., refused to consider a single GOP proposal to fund the government while either defunding or delaying Obamacare.
Since then, both Reid and President Obama have adopted a "my way or the highway" stance on Obamacare funding, all the while accusing Republicans of being "extortionists" attempting to destroy the country.
For some, the threat to arrest military chaplains is part of the administration's effort to score political points by punishing average Americans.
A federal Park Service Ranger, for example, admitted being ordered to make life as difficult as possible in order to make Americans feel the most pain as a result of the partial shutdown.
“We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can," an angry Park Ranger told the Washington Times. "It’s disgusting.”
- Park Ranger admits being told to make life as difficult for people as possible
- Obama supporters threaten to kill protesters at Overpasses for Obama Impeachment
- The left’s shutdown battle cry: Kill them all!
- Deranged: Cher suggests killing Tea Party Republicans on Twitter
- Newsweek cover depicts President Obama as 'god of all things'
- Democrats boo restoration of God, Jerusalem to party platform
- DNC rejects Christian gift baskets, cite views on women's rights, abortion
- Democrats remove 'God' from DNC platform, insert Obama's name over 100 times
- Barack Obama Twitter account: Tea Party 'extremists' closed Statue of Liberty
- Harry Reid, Barack Obama fomenting violence against conservatives over Obamacare
- Liberals blame NRA, Tea Party for D.C. shooting, hope Republicans shot
- Mark Levin to Obama: Touch one vet and face 'half a million people' at memorial (Video)
- Obama to GOP at White House meeting: My way or the highway on Obamacare funding
- Reid blames Ted Cruz for kid with cancer comment, Politico runs cover (Video)
- Picture of guard at Lincoln Memorial called 'Snapshot of Obama's America'
- Harry Reid blames GOP for Obama shutting down WWII memorial
- NY Mag writer: Keep vets out of WWII memorial with aging Nazi soldiers
- Obama throws tantrum over Obamacare defunding, says military may not get paid
- Liberal New Republic suggests Obama use military against Tea Party
- Liberalism remains an ideology of genocidal hate and rage
- Liberalism: An ideology of rage and hate
For hard-hitting conservative commentary, please visit Joe's blog, the Conservative Firing Line. You can also find Joe's articles at Right News Now, Tea Party Tribune, Liberty Unyielding and PolitiCollision.
Be sure to listen to "Grit and Grace" every Thursday from 6-8 p.m. Pacific Time on Blog Talk Radio, where you can hear Joe discuss current events.