Another Religious Freedom at Work Case: U.S. Military

Can Marines have Bible verses at workstations?  Apparently not.

From The Becket Fund for Religious Freedom:


Washington, D.C. – The military’s highest court ruled yesterday [August 10th] that men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces can be punished for exercising their religion if judges deem the practice not religiously “important.” The ruling upholds the government’s criminal prosecution of a U.S. Marine for refusing to discard personal notes that had Bible verses on them. The case may now be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2014, Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was ordered to remove from her workstation three pieces of paper with a paraphrase from the Book of Isaiah, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper,” even though co-workers were permitted to keep nonreligious messages on their desks. She declined and was court-martialed. A lower court upheld Sterling’s court martial, rejecting her argument that her faith was protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“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 the Lance Corporal. “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.’” 

I’m pretty sure you can’t disobey an order from a superior officer, but this is clearly a balance between competing rights and responsibilities.  Veterans and service members will have more to add, and I hope they do in the underused comment section.

The other case I looked at this weekend is the Washington State football coach who was fired for praying after each game on the 50 yard line.  Look here.  

This entry was posted in Free Speech, freedom, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Another Religious Freedom at Work Case: U.S. Military

  1. Jeanette Victoria says:

    No sane person would join today’s military


  2. There are circumstances where you are not required to obey orders. In fact, there are circumstances under which you are required to disobey orders. To have the force of law, orders must be lawful. I don’t think this one is, and I’m amazed that it’s going to take a USSC ruling to establish that.

    I am a person of no religious faith whatsoever. I can’t see what possible lawful motivation the person who ordered this Marine to discard her scripture notes could have had.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She apparently could post the kind of things her coworkers had up – which I understand to be secular/inspirational.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This doesn’t affect my opinion at all.


      • I don’t mean to give the impression I can’t imagine the idiotic defense that the idiot who gave this order probably made: “The LCPL’s scripture notes were disruptive to good order and discipline, so they needed to be removed.” No, you dopey fuck, allowing whatever spoiled baby declared this to be offensive [especially if it was yourself] to disrupt good order and discipline over this, is what is disruptive. The proper response to such a person is that the LCPL, like everyone else has a Constitutional right to worship as she sees fit, and you need not read her notes if you don’t enjoy doing so.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. monitor2112 says:

    My how things have changed. I remember going to church every Sunday during basic training. I remember when it was perfectly acceptable to have on rosary beads, and crucifixes around your neck. A bible was kept in the day room for every platoon. Religion was everywhere. Man…I think everyone should have to do some form of service to the country upon high school graduation. Religion was a way for non-combatants or the physically challenged to serve through the church.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your 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