Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 7th 2013 Contents A37
Saturday, September 7, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Baptist Convention, which pro-
vides the largest share of active-
duty US military chaplains, has
barred members from performing
gay marriages and taking part in
counselling sessions and couples
retreats for same-sex couples.
An arm of the group, the North
American Mission Board, issued
the decision in response to the
Department of Defence recognis-
ing same-sex marriages and
extending benefits to gay spous-
es.The decision highlights oppo-
sition among some religious
groups to the momentum in the
US in favour of gay marriage.
The Pentagon said last month
same-sex spouses of troops will
be eligible for the same benefits
as heterosexual spouses. The policy
took effect Tuesday.
Defence Department spokesman
Lt Cmdr Nate Christensen said,
"A chaplain is not required to par-
ticipate in or officiate a private
ceremony if doing so would be in
variance with the tenets of his or
her religion or personal beliefs."
The military has 439 active-
duty chaplains and 268 reserve-
duty chaplains affiliated with the
Southern Baptist Convention. The
military has a total of 2,884 active-
duty chaplains, with another 2,375
in the reserves.
"Our chaplains want to uphold
the authority and relevancy of
Scripture while continuing to serve
in a very diverse setting," Doug
Carver, a retired Army major gen-
eral who leads NAMB s chaplaincy
efforts, said in a statement.
Mike Ebert, a spokesman for
the NAMB, said the Southern Bap-
tist Convention spoke with
defence officials before issuing the
"We were getting questions
from our chaplains, can you please
clarify what we can and cannot
do," Ebert said.
The guidelines prohibit chap-
lains from supporting same-sex
events, whether they are on or off
a military base, if participation
"gives the appearance of accepting
the homosexual lifestyle or sexual
Chaplains are expected to "treat
all service members, regardless of
rank or behaviour, with Christ-
centred dignity, honour and
respect while assisting the insti-
tutional leadership in its religious
mission requirements and respon-
sibilities as guaranteed by the First
Amendment to the United States
Constitution," the guidance notes.
About 140,000 active-duty
service members identify them-
selves as Baptists, with about
13,000 saying they are part of the
Southern Baptist Convention.
Jason Torpy, president of the
Military Association of Atheists &
Freethinkers, said the move by the
Southern Baptist Convention could
have wide repercussions, and the
military could restrict chaplains
to only faith-based duties.
"That would be the worst sit-
uation," Torpy said.
"It s just as frustrating for us,
as it is to other communities, to
see Southern Baptist do something
that really undermines the chap-
Baptist group reacts to same-sex policy
Chaplains barred from army events
MOJAVE---Virgin Galactic says it successfully
conducted a second rocket-powered, supersonic
test flight of the passenger spaceship it is devel-
The craft, called SpaceShipTwo, reached an
altitude of 69,000 feet (21,030 metres) over Cal-
ifornia early Thursday after it was dropped from
a carrier aircraft and its rocket was ignited for
a 20-second burn.
Two pilots and a flight test engineer were
aboard as the craft reached a maximum speed of
Mach 1.43, then glided to a landing at Mojave
Air and Space Port.
Both the altitude and speed exceeded marks
set during the first rocket-powered flight last
Virgin Galactic plans to take paying passengers
on suborbital flights that briefly enter space. The
commercial spaceline is owned by Sir Richard
Branson s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi s aabar
Investments PJS. (AP)
CRESCENT CITY---A barnacle-covered fishing
boat that was confirmed as the first debris
from the 2011 tsunami in Japan to reach Cal-
ifornia s shores is returning home.
The Del Norte Triplicate reports that the boat
is scheduled to leave from the San Francisco
Bay Area for Japan by ship on September 16.
Free transportation is being provided by the
shipping company, Yamato Transport.
The 20-foot (six-metre) boat washed up in
Crescent City in California on April 7.
It belongs to a high school in the city of
Rikuzentakata, which was devastated by the
earthquake and tsunami.
Del Norte County Sheriff s Office Commander
Bill Steven helped with the arrangements to get
the boat back to Japan. He said its return, though
right, was bittersweet since people in Crescent
City had become attached to it. (AP)
boat that hit
US going home
Two male cheetah cubs have joined the Dallas Zoo population. Zoo officials have marked the occasion by providing them with a
puppy. The eight-week-old feline brothers, Winspear and Kamau, were born July 8 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology
Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. The zoo is providing them with an eight-week-old black Labrador retriever puppy named Amani.
According to a zoo statement, Amani means "peace" in Swahili.
Since Labs are easygoing in public settings and since the pup will grow with the cubs, zoo experts believe he'll provide a calming
influence for the cats. Winspear and Kamau will join the zoo's Animal Adventures outreach programme to help teach the public
about their highly-endangered species. AP PHOTO
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