Saturday, January 13, 2007

In The Navy No More

A while back I wrote about a Navy chaplain who faced a court-martial for praying "in Jesus' name." WorldNetDaily now reports that the chaplain was dismissed by the Navy.
"This fight cost me everything. My career is over, my family is now homeless, we've lost a million dollar pension, but Congress agreed with me and rescinded the Navy policy, so chaplains are free again to pray in Jesus' name," Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt told WND. "My sacrifice purchased their freedom. My conscience is clear, the fight was worth it, and I'd do it all again."
There's an interesting twist in this story, one that at first made me wince, but then seemed to have a point:
He's also launched a legal battle that he said he hopes eventually will result in his reinstatement, alleging the Navy assembled a "civic religion" by ordering its chaplains to pray in a certain way.

"There's a Unitarian system of religion that's aimed at Christians," John Whitehead, founder of the The Rutherford Institute, told WND. "It boils down to that. We're seeing it all across the country, with council prayers, kids wanting to mention Jesus. What's going on here is it's generally a move in our government and military to set up a civic religion."

"I think the Supreme Court's going to have to look at the idea of can the government in any of its forms tell people how to pray, set up a basic religion and say you can only do it this way," he said.
Whether or not that's what the Navy or the government as a whole is trying to do is debatable, but I think it's a conversation worth having. That's exactly what the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are for - so that the government can neither establish & mandate a specific religion nor prohibit the free exercise of a religion.

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