Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Podcast: Military chaplains and the First Amendment

Earlier this month, Congress removed a controversial provision in a military bill that would have permitted military chaplains to offer sectarian prayer at mandatory nondenominational events. But the issue remains alive, as conservative Christian groups say they will refile the bill in January.

We consider the First Amendment issues at play here on this week's legal-affairs podcast, Coast to Coast. Joining my cohost J. Craig Williams and me are three experts on the First Amendment and religious freedom:
Download or listen to the show in MP3 format or Windows Media stream.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In LEE v. WEISMAN, the US Supreme Court said that prayer at high school graduations is not coercive because attendance is voluntary. They found that it was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment Clause which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” The same decision was made by the US Supreme Court in Sante Fe Independent School District v. Doe concerning high school football games. In this situation, it has been stated that attendance is mandatory. Individuals should not be forced to sit through or much less participate in prayer or speech from a chaplain if they are required to be there. This appears to impose on religious rights. Being forved to sit through a sermon from a particular chaplain does, in some ways, establish a religion. The government is paying a particular chaplain of their choice to lead a sermon because these indivuals of the military are kept from church. A significant difference from high school graduations and grown-up military events exists, considering age. However, the right should be extended across the board. Yes, adults may have the right to participate or not, pray or not, but regardless, they should not be forced to sit through a sermon that they do not subscribe to. The First Amendment may apply less to the military, but as pointed out in the debate, it may create disunity in the army, and smother religious liberty.