Military court claims power to decide ‘importance’ of religion

REALLY?  CLEARLY, there are many people in this country who need a basic history course explaining how and why this country was founded…  Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling, our prayers are with you.

 

In a stunning ruling that likely will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, a military court has decided it can determine whether or not a certain religious practice is “important” enough to be protected.

“This is absolutely outrageous,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute, after the decision in the case against a Marine who posted a Bible verse at her work station.

“A few judges decided they could strip a Marine of her constitutional rights just because they didn’t think her beliefs were important enough to be protected,” he said. “If they can court-martial a Marine over a Bible verse, what’s to stop them from punishing service members for reading the Bible, [talking] about their faith, or praying?”

“The Liberty Amendments” is the blueprint on how to fix our broken government by Mark Levin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “Liberty and Tyranny” and “Ameritopia.” Order it today at WND’s Superstore.

WND reported at the end of 2015 when a lower military court delivered the judgment against Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling, who, at three places in her work space, posted a phrase from Isaiah 54:17, “No weapons formed against me shall prosper.”

According to the brief, her supervisor said, “I don’t like the tone” and told her to remove the verses.

“When Sterling declined, her supervisor took them down at the end of the duty day. Sterling reprinted and re-posted the messages, but she found them in the trash the next morning. She was then court-martialed,” according to the complaint.

“No one in our military who goes to work every day to defend our freedoms should then be court-martialed for exercising those very freedoms,” said Daniel Briggs, a former Air Force JAG officer now with the Alliance Defending Freedom, at the time.

“This case is about Monifa, but it is also about every American who puts on the uniform in service to this country. The question is whether they will be allowed to exercise their faith in the military, or whether they will be denied the same constitutionally protected freedoms they have volunteered to defend and are willing to die for.”

The latest development, this week, was an affirmation by the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces’ punishment of Sterling.

The next step will be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, her legal team said.

“This is a real-life example of why judges shouldn’t play theologians,” said Daniel Blomberg, legal counsel of the Becket Fund, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Sterling.

“Here, a few judges concluded that keeping scripture nearby isn’t ‘important,’ even though more than half of the world’s population belong to religions that teach the exact opposite. Avoiding obvious errors like this is why RFRA protects all religious beliefs, not just beliefs that government officials deem ‘important.’”

The organization pointed out that Sterling’s co-workers were permitted to keep nonreligious messages on their desks. And it argued her actions were protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

One judge on the military panel disagreed with the punishment, noting that federal law “does not empower judges to curtail various manifestations of sincere religious belief simply by arbitrarily deciding that a certain act was not ‘important’ to the believer’s exercise of religion.”

The Becket Fund’s brief was on behalf of religious faiths, including Anglican, Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, Muslim, Presbyterian, Sikh and Southern Baptist.

“Last I checked, Marines weren’t afraid of anything – and they certainly don’t need to be afraid of religious liberty,” said Blomberg. “In fact, it was the military itself that taught our young country how protecting religious liberty is good for our nation, good for mission accomplishment.”

Mike Berry, director of military affairs for First Liberty, pointed out: “Gen. Patton famously prayed on the eve of battle. According to the majority [court] opinion, if Gen. Patton couldn’t prove how important praying was to him, he could be court-martialed for his prayer.”

Shackelford took up the argument.

“This is shameful, it’s wrong, and it sets a terrible precedent, jeopardizing the constitutional rights of every single man and woman in military service. We will appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. This cannot be allowed to stand.”

The court’s dissenting minority pointed out the failings of the majority’s logic.

“At trial, LCpl Sterling adequately demonstrated that the actions for which she was being court-martialed constituted ‘religious’ conduct. [She] testified that both the substance and placement of her signs were inspired by her Christian faith. The slips of paper that LCpl Sterling placed on her workspace were organized in the form of the ‘trinity,’ an unmistakable Christian motif, and on them was printed a biblically inspired quotation: ‘No sword formed against me shall prosper.’

“There is no doubt that LCpl Sterling’s conduct required further analysis under the provisions of RFRA.”

The dissent warned: “It has long been recognized that courts are particularly ill equipped to govern what does or does not constitute ‘religion.’ … The majority opinion ventures beyond that which is necessary to decide the issue before us. In the course of doing so, the court not only fails to ensure the proper application of RFRA to LCpl Sterling’s specific case, it more generally imposes a legal framework that unnecessarily curtails the religious freedom of our nation’s servicemen.”

Before the decision was announced, Ron Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religion Liberty, commented, “Congress and the courts have made it clear that religious freedom is truly our first freedom; it must not be watered down and should be burdened only in the most extreme circumstances.

“This is just as true in the military. Though it is a unique institution with a mission that must be accomplished, service members cannot be forced to check their faith when they put on the uniform. Their religious freedom is more precious than ever before and must be strongly defended. Those who are willing to give all deserve nothing less.”

“The Liberty Amendments” is the blueprint on how to fix our broken government by Mark Levin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “Liberty and Tyranny” and “Ameritopia.” Order it today at WND’s Superstore.

 

Source: Military court claims power to decide ‘importance’ of religion

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s