Wes Modder

Wesley James "Wes" Modder[1] (born March 31, 1966-Died August 19, 2021) was an American retired United States Marine Corps officer and military chaplain in the United States Navy. Modder was also occasionally an author in ETHOS, a US Navy newsletter.[2]

Wesley J. Modder
Wes Modder in 2012.jpg
Chaplain Modder in 2012
Born(1966-03-31)March 31, 1966
DiedAugust 19, 2021(2021-08-19) (aged 55)
DenominationAssemblies of God
EducationBachelor of Science Pastoral Studies: North Central University (1996), Master of Divinity: Bethel Theological Seminary (2002); Doctor of Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary, 2014
Senior posting
Previous postBase Chapel Naval Weapons Station at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, Force Chaplain for the Navy SEALs, Wing Chaplain for Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Pacific Fleet, Command Chaplain for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit 1 MEF in Camp Pendleton, CA, Staff Chaplain Naval Nuclear Power Training Command

Legal CaseEdit

On December 6, 2014, Modder's temporary lieutenant junior grade officer and assistant[3] brought two Equal Opportunity representatives and a five-page complaint against him. The complaint was on the grounds of discrimination of sexual orientation and different standards of respect including that of pre-marital sex. Modder was later removed from duties and told to clean out his office.[4] After his commanders concluded he was "intolerant" and "unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment" he received a "detachment for cause" letter on February 27, 2015.[5][6] On March 9, 2015, Modder sought assistance from Liberty Institute, which wrote a letter refuting the "detachment for cause" letter on legal grounds, and requested "religious accommodation" to continue his duties as a chaplain. This request was denied March 16, 2015.[7] Modder's lawyers appealed this ruling.[8] From March 10, 2015, to present

Modder has been temporarily assigned and relocated to Naval Support Activity Charleston while facing possible discharge if brought before the Naval board of inquiry.[4][9] On March 24, 2015, a sailor at a neighboring command unexpectedly died, Modder was going to attend and minister at the funeral when the US Navy issued a "no contact" order and banished him from the base. Liberty Institute stated "To deny Chaplain Modder of the ability to minister to a grieving family and other sailors is deplorable."[10]

On September 3, 2015, the Navy Personnel Command exonerated Modder, clearing him of all wrongdoing. Rear Adm. David Steindl concluded that "evidence of substandard performance in this case does not meet the standard of gross negligence or complete disregard for duty".[8] Liberty Institute, the law firm representing Wes Modder, stated "We always knew that when the facts came to light, the Navy would exonerate Chaplain Modder".[11] He was able to retire in good standing upon reaching his 21st year of Naval service.[8]


  1. ^ "FY-10 Active-Duty Navy Lieutenant Commander Staff Corps Selections". U.S. Navy. August 9, 2009. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  2. ^ "ETHOS - Issue #6" (PDF). p. 26. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  3. ^ Smith, Samuel (March 20, 2015). "US Navy Violated Federal Law by Denying Religious Freedom to 'Decorated' Navy Chaplain Facing Possible Discharge for Voicing Christian Beliefs". Christian Post. Retrieved March 25, 2015. ..that sailor was actually assigned temporarily as a chaplain assistant," Berry said.
  4. ^ a b Starnes, Todd (March 9, 2015). "Former SEALs chaplain could be kicked out of Navy for Christian beliefs". Fox News. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  5. ^ Tilghman, Andrew (March 11, 2015). "Chaplain faces possible discharge for being 'intolerant'". Military Times. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  6. ^ Harper, Jon (March 11, 2015). "Commander wants Navy chaplain removed for alleged anti-gay remarks, discrimination". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  7. ^ Tilghman, Andrew (March 18, 2015). "Navy denies chaplain's request for religious accommodation". World. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Navy spares controversial chaplain accused of misconduct". Military Times. September 4, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  9. ^ Harper, Jon (March 18, 2015). "Commander denies Pentecostal chaplain's religious accommodation request". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  10. ^ "Navy bans chaplain from ministering to family of dead sailor". Fox News. March 24, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  11. ^ Starnes, Todd (September 4, 2015). "Navy exonerates chaplain accused of being anti-gay". Fox News. Retrieved September 8, 2015.

External linksEdit