“Freedom” Groups Object to Prayers on Navy Ships

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has protested the tradition of evening prayers onboard US Navy ships, saying they

violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because military personnel are being coerced to participate in religious exercises…

These officially sanctioned prayers compel service members of varying beliefs and non-belief to listen to and participate in religious exercises…

While it purported to condemn all prayer, the FRFF intentionally highlighted Christianity, even citing the frequently-used and inaccurately attributed concept that

Jesus condemned as hypocrisy public prayer…

If nothing else, the FRFF appears to be intellectually consistent, since demanding an end to the prayers achieves their end of freedom “from” exposure to religious thought.  On the other hand, such consistency is lacking for the MRFF, who also signed on to the letter, as religious freedom in the military generally dictates accommodation to the maximum extent possible, not avoidance at all cost.

Needless to say, there are a variety of reasons about which someone could complain about religion in the military, beginning with Chaplains themselves.  It is ludicrous, however, to assert that the US government is trying to convert its military members to a religion, particularly when even the complaint says more than one religion is represented (to which religion are they then attempting to gain converts?).

Mere acknowledgement of, or exposure to, a religion is not an attempt to endorse or establish a faith.  Nothing about an audible prayer forces another person to participate in the religious exercise of another.

It is also not a reasonable outcome that every vestige of religion should be stripped from those who volunteer for government service, particularly when such offense comes against long-standing maritime traditions that span decades, if not centuries.

Via the ADF.

6 comments

  • Sorry “long-standing maritime traditions that span decades” doesn’t give anyone the right to force someone to listen to it either!

    Where can a Navy person go on a ship if the prayer is broadcast everywhere…including staterooms/birthing comparements? It is likewise ludicrous to assume that this is not forcing a person to listen to it…what choice do they have?

    How long do you think it a Commander of a land-based unit would last if he decide to broadcasts daily prayers in an office building during duty hours? This just wouldn’t happen.

    My “choice” was – I volunteered for government service, not Church or prayers. If I want to pray I’ll go to Church or some place private. I certainly would not want anyone to have to listen to prayers broadcast where we couldn’t get up and leave to avoid [hearing] it.

  • Where can a Navy person go on a ship…

    Why would they need to go anywhere? Does hearing religious speech equate to a “siren’s song?” You don’t give the men and women in the service much credit.

    As to “choice,” if you insist, there’s always earplugs.

  • Well JD, as I predicted (to myself), I would get the “earplugs” response.

    As far as giving credit to our our Military hero’s…without question! With regard to supplication, no way dude. Our troops are free to worship their preferred deity, no question there. However, I’m just as free to not worship a deity nor hear anything about it. But if I’m on a Navy ship that skipper is forcing me to hear it because its broadcast on the ship-wide loud speaker…this, my good man, is forcing non-believers into a religious exercise.

    And yes, religious speech equates to siren’s song for some people (me too) because that’s they way I feel about it. But I also respect your right to do it…just not near me. Because I have just as much right not to hear it as you have to say it.

  • I think one of the most important points is that “military chaplains are deployed to accommodate the religious practices of service members, not to impose religious practices on a captive audience of unwilling participants.”

  • I admit I’m a little late to the conversation but I feel strongly about this issue. I have been in the Navy for 13 years and I am a Chief.
    I feel that my rights are not respected when I forced to listen to someone thank the “lord” for a great day at sea. The earplugs option is not valid. All personnel MUST be able to hear the 1MC. (1MC is the PA system on a ship) In essence I am a captive audience and so are the rest of my shipmates.

    How many of you dread when the Jehovah witnesses come to your door? Thats how I feel EVERY single night at sea. We counted how many times they announced the different call to prayer and on a regular weekday it was 6. Sunday it was 9. Are we fighting a war or going to church camp?

    Freedom of religion and FREEDOM from it. Thats all I am asking. Onward christian soldiers? Nope. I will support and defend the constitution of the United States.

  • @NAVY CHIEF

    Recently there was Swedish or Finish (?) mom living in Italy that sued the Italian government because of all the crucifixes at schools, some agnostic journalist wrote in the Guardian something like: “Where did she think she was moving?!”

    I guess the same applies to you…IF you are in the Navy that is since i dont take your word for it. You militant-atheists are notorious for your obssesion and lying. You guys are also notorious for having a massive “martir-complex”.

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