Victory for Military Chaplains Who Pray "In Jesus Name"
Gordon James Klingenschmitt
chaplaingate at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 30 14:25:18 PDT 2006
Ah yes, Marty, the House receded, but so did these (novel, invasive) Feb 2006 policies recede into oblivion, allowing the real power of the old law (enshrined since 1860) to be fully restored:
THE LAW, GENTLEMEN: US CODE TITLE 10 SECTION 6031: "An officer in the chaplain corps may conduct public worship according to the manner and forms of the church of which he is a member."
And the U.S. Supreme Court disagrees with your interpretation, that allowing "freedom" in prayer content would somehow violate the establishment clause, in fact they ruled the opposite:
1991 Lee vs. Weisman (Majority Decision):
"The government may not establish an official or civic religion as a means of avoiding the establishment of a religion with more specific creeds...The State's role did not end with the decision to include a prayer and with the choice of clergyman. Principal Lee provided Rabbi Gutterman with a copy of the "Guidelines for Civic Occasions" and advised him that his prayers should be nonsectarian. Through these means, the principal directed and controlled the content of the prayers. Even if the only sanction for ignoring the instructions were that the rabbi would not be invited back, we think no religious representative who valued his or her continued reputation and effectiveness in the community would incur the State's displeasure in
this regard. It is a cornerstone principle of our Establishment Clause jurisprudence that it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government, Engel v. Vitale, (1962), and that is what the school officials attempted to do."
So Marty is technically wrong on both counts:
1) There is a long-standing law to let military chaplains pray in Jesus name, and
2) Government censorship of anyone's prayer content violates the First Amendment (unless you disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court).
Smile guys...liberty is prevailing here!
You still believe in freedom of speech, don't you?
Marty Lederman <marty.lederman at comcast.net> wrote:
That's actually rather amusing. The House -- which passed a bill that would have prescribed that chaplains would have the "prerogative" to pray "according to the dictates of their conscience" -- actually receded in conference. That is to say, the Senate conferees prevailed, and therefore the law contains no such prescription.
But then the conferees purport to "driect" the Secretary of the Air Force to rescind the recent policy. This is not a "direction" of Congress, let alone a duly enacted law, and it has no operative legal effect.
Besides which, for the chaplains in their official capacities to engage in public prayer "in Jesus's name" would violate the Establishment Clause, and thus could not be "prescribed," even by statute.
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