In my post-service days, I’ve regularly been thanked by unassuming strangers for serving in defense of our country. Like so many others, I respond as graciously as I can while harboring a sometimes poorly-masked hesitance to accept such genuinely offered admiration. These strangers view veterans as a bloc. They don’t grasp that we have our own bell curve, with the truly deserving heroes a few standard deviations to the right of the mean (far to the right of where I belong).

On the other end are the pitifully undeserving, who serially situate their own views, ideas, and appetites before the very idea of service. Selfishness is the trademark of these individuals, who are so wed to their mental narrowness and shallowness that they can’t comprehend the depth of the idea of service, which starts with subjugation to team goals. They come in many forms. I call them idiots. Sometimes, you can catch one of these idiots out in the open. When you do, it’s important to empty both rhetorical barrels.

Case in point, Captain Doctor Chaplain Sonny Hernandez, who recently took to a fundamentalist blog to blast Christians in uniform who insist on following their oath by placing the Constitution on a plane above their religious beliefs. Implicit in Chaplain Sonny’s jumble of jackassery is disloyalty to or outright rejection of his own oath. Clearly, he is troubled by having to obey pesky laws that might not align with his moral and intellectual loyalty to baby Jesus. Sure, it’s not stopping him from collecting a paycheck from the US Treasury, but he seems to feel strongly about it nonetheless.

Here’s a sampling of what Doctor Dumbass had to say in his indiscriminate online rant, which is a rolling, indefinite embarrassment for a service trying to prove it hasn’t forgotten how to think.

Actually, wait a tick. Before we go there, let’s pause and ask why this guy is a chaplain. What qualifies someone to be a chaplain? Is there an interview or assessment process that explores whether the person will be able and willing to accommodate (or least quietly tolerate) all faiths? Actually, let’s ask why anyone is a chaplain. Why do we have chaplains? If the idea is that we need to cater to spiritual needs of warriors facing death, we should only have chaplains when and to the extent we’re at war. Or so I argue. And this guy is proving my point by demonstrating the danger or moral ossification during periods of relative peace.

Doctor Sonny says:

Counterfeit Christians in the Armed forces will appeal to the Constitution, and not Christ, and they have no local church home—which means they have no accountability for their souls (Heb. 13:17).

Now, I don’t know exactly what he means by this, because this (allegedly) educated man is having trouble tethering together subject and predicate. But he seems to be saying if you choose the Constitution over the Almighty, your soul is lost. This is an idiotic notion not just incompatible with service, but quite literally un-American.

But let’s not accept the flawed premise … that it’s valid or acceptable to judge the religious beliefs of service members. All that shit is checked at the door. It’s one of the reasons military organizations achieve greater cohesion and unified action than would be possible anywhere else … they bind to a common code irrespective of private spiritual beliefs.

Let us continue, brothers and sisters.

Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other anti-Christian worldviews to practice their religions—because the language in the Constitution permits—are grossly in error, and deceived.

And here’s where Sonny departs the paved surface. He’s making it explicit: if you follow the Constitution, you’re wrong, he says, expressing bare contempt for a document he’s sworn to support and defend. But just to remove any doubt, Sonny gives us this little gem:

Also, is it wrong for a professing Christian service member to say, “I support the rights of all Americans to practice their faith since the Constitution protects their rights?” Absolutely!

And it goes on like that, at great length. Google Sonny Hernandez and you’ll be treated to a compendium of bigoted hate masquerading as a legit belief system. He even argues, publicly, that HIV is a punishment from God for the “sin” of homosexuality. Yeah, that old chestnut.

And the Air Force, with full knowledge of what this specimen believes and preaches in his spare time, is entrusting him with the spiritual well-being of its airmen, all the while extolling the virtue of universal trust and dignity. What a joke.

Now I’ve seen some dumb stuff in my time. A woman with independently tracking eyeballs. A frog nuked in a microwave. A gumball machine filled with concord grape jelly. I’ve even seen a guy with 18 years of honorable, excellent service fired from his job because he did 45 situps instead of 46. But this here story of this particular idiot … well, it’s every bit as stupefying as any of those other things. Here we have an observable, abject idiot openly professing his idiocy at every opportunity … and not one of the alleged adults in charge is making even a token attempt to curb said idiocy. It’s all very idiotic.

Since there’s no evidence any of the tens of thousands of officers superior to Doctor Chaplain have any intent to help illuminate for him the path to enlightenment, I’ll happily help. Here’s a simple illustration, Sonny.


Now, this isn’t a free speech issue. Sonny is free to say what he has said, just as we are free to hold him socially accountable. Nor is this a matter of religious tolerance. Nothing this dude is saying has any connection to a valid set of religious beliefs. Not only that, the idiot is strong enough with this one that even if we could strip him of any trace of Christianity, he would simply find another way to ooze into the gutter.

Should he be “in trouble?”

Not necessarily. If his recent froth-blogging were distinct from his professional performance, there would be nothing much to discuss here. Just another idiot being idiotic.

But Dr. Sonny Chaplain has directly and unrepentently linked his brimstone-addled madness with his profession. An average googler would inescapably classify him as a blue-suited fundamentalist, perhaps concluding that our Air Force is a welcoming den for bile-spewing exclusivists. He’s apparently been the subject of many complaints, and yet continues to thrive unchecked.

This makes him an implicitly sponsored idiot, and that leaves the Air Force holding the bag. In the wake of his latest invective, officials have offered no response. What they should have done is forcefully repudiate a brand of idiocy that is — or should be — unwelcome in any public agency.

So while he shouldn’t necessarily be in trouble, a muzzle wouldn’t be a bad idea. He’s obviously already had a lobotomy, but the side effects are a bit much.

There are lots of ways to think about this, but in the end I am left with a simple and repetitive observation: that there are idiots among us, and we must remain eternally vigilant, lest they stumble upon and seize a commanding position. When we spot someone who is an embarrassment to the rank of captain, we should say so openly. The fact this guy can thrive and even be recognized as CGO of the Year for a large organization does not speak well of a USAF that claims it wants to detox. This dude is a poster child for self before service. His own beliefs are far more important to him than fulfilling his oath. That’s deplorable and ultimately unacceptable.

So this is JQP’s good deed for the day. Scorin’ points for the afterlife.

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