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The Restriction Of Military Prayers Essay

1571 words - 7 pages

In recent years, the issue of military prayer has come to the forefront in America. Some people are stating 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? Since the military is regulated by Congress, it falls under the First Amendment and the limitation clauses set forth for ...view middle of the document...

It was developed based off of the 1971, Supreme Court ruling on the Lemonn v. Kurtzman case. According to this test, the government can only assist religion if the assistance can pass a three parts of the test. First, the main reason for the assistance must be secular. Second, it may not assist or inhibit religion, and third, it cannot create an entanglement of church and state (U.S. Courts). This means, these clauses give citizens the right to practice their chosen religion, and provides the government the means to assist its citizens with practicing that right.
The Supreme Court has made many rulings regarding the religious freedom of American citizens. In the case Lynch v. Donelly in 1984, the Supreme Court stated, “the Constitution does not require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any (U.S. Supreme Court). The Supreme Court held that “private religious expression receives preferential treatment under the Free Exercise Clause” during the Capitol Square Review & Advisory Board v. Pinette, in 1995 (U.S. Supreme Court). These rulings show that though there should be a definitive line separating church and state, the protection of religious freedom must also be upheld. There is an essential difference in the governments endorsing a certain religion and the government protecting the rights of private individual’s religious freedoms.
The Chaplain Corps is at the center of the issue of religion in the military and in 1983, the Supreme Court also upheld “the constitutionality of chaplain-led prayers” in the Marsh v. Chambers hearing (U.S. Supreme Court). Congress created the Chaplain Corps to provide military personnel the ability to practice their religion while serving in the U.S. military. Thus providing military personnel with their rights set forth by the Free Exercise clause of the Frist Amendment. Without the chaplaincy program, military members stationed in locations away from the availability of their chosen organized religion, would not have access to religious support. In creating the Chaplain Corp, Congress authorized military chaplains to provide for the religious needs of military personnel. According to the Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 1304.19, on Chaplaincies of the Military Departments (DOD), military chaplains,
“Are established to advise and assist commanders in the discharge of their responsibilities to provide for the free exercise of religion in the context of military service as guaranteed by the Constitution, to assist commanders in managing Religious Affairs, and to serve as the principal advisors to commanders for all issues regarding the impact of religion on military operations . . . Shall serve a religiously diverse population. Within the military, commanders are required to provide comprehensive religious support to all authorized individuals within their areas of responsibility. (DOD...

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