In a ruling that could also impact religious activities in the military, the 4th Circuit has ruled that the government can control the content of prayers offered during its legislative sessions. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor sat on the panel as a visiting judge and contributed to the ruling.
Justice O’Connor said that the prayer was “government speech,” not individual speech. Reverend Hashmel Turner, also a local councilman, had sued when he was prevented from offering a sectarian prayer that would include the name of Jesus Christ. The Reverend had been represented by the Rutherford Institute, which plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
As noted at the Religion Clause, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has asked the Inspector General (an increasingly popular office, these days) to investigate
…an Army base’s practice of coercing soldiers to attend church services…
Tabernacle Baptist Church’s “Free Day Away” allows trainees from nearby Fort Leonard Wood to get a break from the base as well as attend an evangelical church service.
Quoted in a local paper, the base emphasized that Read more
Missionary Aviation Fellowship has reported that prices for fuel have more than doubled in the past year. In response, they are attempting to increase funding as well as modify and modernize their aircraft fleet.
Other missionary aviation organizations are listed here.
CNN’s AC360 blog updates yesterday’s story with information on the government’s move to dismiss the suit. In a commentary that unapologetically sides with Specialist Hall, CNN’s Randi Kaye notes that Hall, an atheist,
…isn’t seeking money, just religious freedom…
Kaye then expresses shock that the defendant would have the gall to ask for the suit to be dismissed:
[T]he U.S. Government, the very government Hall agreed to serve and risk his life for, wants his lawsuit tossed out.
The only response included in the commentary is Hall’s admission that much of the premise of the government’s motion to dismiss is correct: he did not use any of the in-place military processes to address his griveances, because “nothing ever gets done.”
In a fairly well written argument, the government has filed a motion to dismiss the ongoing lawsuit against the Defense Department brought by Army Specialist Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. (The response was due, and filed, on the 8th.) Salient points are below (emphasis added), though many were previously already talked about here.
The short version: he failed to use the systems in place to seek redress; the solutions he requests are already in place; and he does not allege harm by any “institutional bias” for which the only support is a list of vague references.
On the request that Secretary of Defense Gates be required to prevent Constitutional violations by his military subordinates:
Secretary Gates already exercises his authority to prevent constitutional violations through the Army’s existing Equal Opportunity Program — which Specialist Hall failed to invoke…
It is a fairly common (though sometimes socially unacceptable) practice for internet users who post on forums to add to their own post in order to make its posting date more recent. This has the effect of “bumping” it to the forefront, where people actually see it, even though there is nothing new to the topic.
CNN has apparently taken on the practice, as they have chosen to headline an essential repeat of their April 28th story on Jeremy Hall’s MRFF lawsuit.
One possible reason for the repeat may be in the source. Read more
As noted earlier, the ACLU has complained again about the Naval Academy noon meal process that “[offers] Midshipmen an opportunity for prayer or devotional thought.” Former Navy Chaplain Klingenschmitt, of court martial fame, addresses the issue by asking
…does the First Amendment protect the freedom of religious expression…or does it protect the easily offended ears of the bystander…?
An Army National Guard Chaplain reports that while recruiting efforts have helped, a shortage still exists.