Thursday, November 02, 2006

freedom of speech for military chaplains?

An evangelical Christian chaplain in the Navy (Gordon J. Klingenschmitt; amusingly the spellchecker tried to change his name to Chitterlings) is suing the Navy. He says Navy is "violating his First Amendment rights by forbidding him to pray 'in the name of Jesus' at public ceremonies."

This is quite moronic (that's a legal term). Chitterlings I mean Klingenschmitt is able to pray in the name of Jesus on his own time. The concept that certain forms of employment can lead to limits on one's freedom of speech is pretty well established. For example, Klingenschmitt and other federal employees are banned from disclosing classified information. All members of the military are prevented from publicly insulting their commander in chief (well, THAT provision was apparently suspended when Clinton was President) and from campaigning for a politician in a partisan election. Does any of THAT violate Klingenschmitt's First Amendment rights?

At public ceremonies, Klingenschmitt is presumably representing the US Navy. Last I checked, the US Navy still allowed Jews, Muslims, Scientologists, Zoroastrians, atheists and pagans to join the Navy. The Navy correctly wants to prevent having chaplains push a particular religion on their time. Klingenschmitt of course is free to pray in the name of Jesus any other time he wants, and is free to discuss Jesus with any Navy person who visits him for advice or counsel.

But if you really feel that strongly, Chaplain Klingenschmitt, you can pray in the name of Jesus any time you like by leaving the Navy.


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