Anti-proselytizing lawsuit against the US Air Force
stevenjamar at gmail.com
Sun Oct 16 15:32:57 PDT 2005
On Oct 15, 2005, at 1:11 AM, Nichols, Joel wrote:
> Of course this item in the complaint must be groundless. The act of
> administering the Eucharist is considered -- even intentionally --
> to be an
> "evangelistic" act by many theological groups (especially Eastern
> Orthodoxy). That sacrament is an entry and window into the life of
> God, and
> it is the belief and hope of many that the participants of the act
> deepen their faith (or join in faith) because of the act. The First
> Amendment cannot prohibit such theological belief and action.
Performing sacraments is not what is intended. Until I saw this post
I could not imagine that anyone could interpret it that way.
It is a bit nonsensical to call a claim for relief in this context
"groundless". One may not get exactly the relief requested or may
not get it at all or may get it in revised form after input from
others or review by judges. But to ask for chaplains to refrain from
proselytizing seems to be the thrust of it and seems to comport with
many conceptions of separation of religion and state and seems to
comport with limits on the government's ability to establish religion.
That said, I would hope that whatever relief is granted would be more
carefully crafted with workable guidelines that would not seem to be
quite so restrictive, even if such guidelines would be constitutional
in a military context.
As to "a." I must concede that the broader reading in light of the
more complete context, that the "involutary" does not modify
"persuade" seems to be the right one. And if that is the case, then
I think it does go too far. Though there still can be time, place,
manner, and in the military, content, limits on persuasion.
Surely "b." is just a statement of standard constitutional law, right?
> "Volokh, Eugene" <VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu> wrote:
> I just got a copy of the Complaint in this lawsuit (Weinstein v.
> U.S. Air Force), and here's the claim for relief:
> 26. Plaintiff is entitled to the permanent injunctive relief that
> the USAF, Defendant Geren and its senior leadership adopt and
> adhere to
> the following policies:
> a. No member of the USAF, including a chaplain, is permitted to
> evangelize, proselytize, or in any related way attempt to
> convert, pressure, exhort or persuade a fellow member of the USAF to
> accept their own religious beliefs while on duty.
> b. The USAF is not permitted to establish or advance any one
> religion over another religion or one religion over no religion.
> Could paragraph (a) possibly be a legitimate demand? Could it
> really be that the First Amendment bars individual USAF members from
> trying to "involuntarily . . . persuade" fel! low servicemembers --
> just subordinates, but also peers -- "to accept their own religious
> beliefs," even "while on duty"?
Prof. Steven D. Jamar vox: 202-806-8017
Howard University School of Law fax: 202-806-8428
2900 Van Ness Street NW
mailto:stevenjamar at gmail.com
Washington, DC 20008 http://www.law.howard.edu/faculty/pages/jamar
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