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Military Prayers: A Violation Of Rights?

2444 words - 10 pages

In recent years, the issue of military prayer has come to the forefront in American debates. Some people are arguing since the United States military is a government run institution; they cannot and should not be allowed to hold prayer services. These people argue that the very act of holding prayer on military insulations violates the rights of the non-believers in the military ranks. However, where does the line of protecting the religious freedom and free speech of our military and protecting those that do not believe fall? Do we protect ones right only to violate the others? The military is regulated by Congress, therefore it falls under the First Amendment, and the limitation clauses set forth in it, to provide the protections for religious freedom. According to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (First Amendment).This means, Congress can-not and should not be allowed to prohibit the prayers of U.S. military personnel.
The First Amendment provides two limitation clauses in regards to religion and the government. The first of these clauses is the, Free Exercise Clause. According to the U.S. Courts website, “The Free Exercise Clause protects citizens' right to practice their religion as they please, so long as the practice does not run afoul of a public morals or a compelling governmental interest” (U.S. Courts). This means, every citizen of the United States has the right to practice their religion however they choose, so long as, it does not go against the moral standards of the public and the government does not have irrefutable reasons to restrict it. The second clause is the Establishment Clause and it “prohibits the government from establishing a religion” (U.S. Courts). This simply means, the government cannot choose and set up a religion for the country to follow. The Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause work together to give citizens the right to practice their chosen religion, provides the government the means to assist its citizens with their right to practice this right, and protects the citizens from having a chosen religion forced on them by the government.
The Supreme Court has further explained the Establishment Clause by establishing the use of the Lemon test, the Coercion test, the Endorsement test, and the Neutrality test. Though there are some instances where the other test are used the Lemon test is the most commonly used of the four. It was developed based off of the 1971, Supreme Court ruling on the Lemon v. Kurtzman case. According to this test, the government can only assist religion if the assistance can pass the three parts of the test. First, the main reason for the assistance must be secular. Second, the assistance may...

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