U.S. soldier sues over mandatory Christian prayers

September 29, 2008

A non-religious Kansas soldier is suing U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the grounds that his constitutional rights were violated when he was forced to attend military events where “fundamentalist Christian prayers” were recited.


Specialist Dustin Chalker’s cause has been taken up by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which is joining him in the suit.

The MRFF said in a statement that Chalker, a decorated Iraq war veteran stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas, “was forced to attend three events in late 2007 and in 2008  at which the battalion chaplain …  delivered  sectarian Christian prayers”.

“Being nonreligious, Chalker objected  … and asked to be  excused from the events.  The requests to be excused were denied.   After the denials, Chalker was forced to attend other events with  sectarian Christian prayers.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas last week, seeks an injunction to prevent such  sectarian prayers from being delivered at mandatory military events.

It is the second such suit filed by MRFF and the other is still pending in a federal court. A spokesman at the Department of Justice, which is expected to defend the Department of Defence, said it had not been served with the papers yet.

Prayer and military events often coincide in the United States. Prayers are often evoked at homecoming ceremonies when soldiers return from overseas tours; off base, civilian events such as rodeos often feature marching soldiers and prayers.

Some activist groups such as the MRFF say evangelical Christianity is being promoted in the U.S. military through peer pressure, calls to prayer and other means.

Critics say this violates the separation of Church and state and creates a potential diplomatic minefield with U.S. forces waging wars in two Muslim countries, Iraq and Afghanistan.  

The Department of Defense’s watchdog has in the  past taken action on the issue, for example when it chastised a U.S. army general a few years ago for making speeches in which  he described the “war on terror” as a Christian battle against Satan.


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The U.S. Army is an army of Crusaders battling the “infidel” Muslims to protect the, for some reason, *not* “infidel” Zionists (not *yet*, anyway).

Mr. Chalker should be thankful that he was not prosecuted for “heresy”–not having “said ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ as his ‘L’ord and ‘S’avior”.

Of course, the Defense Department has not really thought this out very carefully.

After all, if *everyone* in the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force ahas “said ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ as his or her ‘L’ord and ‘S’avior, the United States will be out of luck after the ‘Rapture’–at which time folks like Mr. Chalker may very well be considered more ‘useful’ than they are at present.

Posted by Michael Cecil | Report as abusive

Hard to fight religious extremism when you are forced to practice it. How can mandatory prayer be a part of a society that is supposed to be free?

Posted by W. Kenneth | Report as abusive

Will our soldiers be protected and exempt from Muslim ‘follower of Islam’ fundamentalist beliefs if Obama is elected? We all know where our world is going if he is.
When did America decide to spit on the graves of the 9/11 victims by considering a Muslim president. Oh cut the crap everyone who thinks he’s not. You don’t just try Muslim and say “ah, yeah, not for me” Maybe that worked when Bill said he just tried smoke, but come on now. Lets wake up before we are all put to death.
I am far from a Bible slinging woman, but I do hope you all find Psalm 91 before you need it.

Posted by Kim | Report as abusive