Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a Navy chaplain has gone without food for two weeks in protest of the Navys policy against praying in the name of Jesus. He says the White House operators are getting a workout each time he appears in the media.
He is asking President Bush to sign an executive order allowing military clergy to pray according to their own faith traditions. He says he will continue his fast until he is allowed to wear his official uniform which, he points out, bears a cross while praying a Christian prayer in public.
If I pray in Jesus name in public, I have to wear civilian clothes, Klingenschmitt told WND in explaining the contracts stipulation.
Since 1998, the Navy has had a pluralism policy governing the behavior of chaplains, a policy Klingenschmitt encountered when he attended chaplain school in 2002.
They taught mandatory lectures there to all chaplains, that you cannot pray to your God, you have to pray to the civic god, Klingenschmitt explained. The Muslim chaplain cant pray to Allah, a Jewish chaplain cant pray to Adonai, a Roman Catholic cant pray in the name of the Trinity, and I couldnt pray in Jesus name in public.
They only let us do that in private. If its in public, they tell us to just pray to God and say, Amen.
Klingenschmitt says this policy is in conflict with Title X of the U.S. Code allows him to pray according to the manners and form of his own church. And thats been the law since 1860, he said. He says the US code overrides Navy policy.
They (the Navy) called me an immature chaplain because I claimed the right to pray in Jesus name, Klingenschmitt said. On his first post on a Navy ship his commanding officer, Capt. James M. Carr, wrote to the Navy board, saying Klingenschmitt emphasized his own faith system when praying and preaching.
Klingenschmitt says the same officer punished him in July 2004 for a sermon he preached at an optional chapel service.
In the sermon, I said, Jesus is the way to heaven, Klingenschmitt said. He says he was told the next day: You cant say that if unbelievers are in the audience because youre offending people, and thats not Navy pluralism.
In March, Carr asked the Navy board to end my career. So I filed a complaint. It went into the hands of a Navy judge. My career was on the line. They were going to end it after 14 years out on the street with no retirement.
Just before his fast began, Klingenschmitt says, The Navy stripped me of my uniform for all public appearances that might include praying in Jesus name.
Thats when I had enough; thats when I declared my fast, he said.
Seventy-three members of Congress have joined the request, saying in an Oct. 25 letter to the president, “In all branches of the military, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christian chaplains to use the name of Jesus when praying.” About 80 percent of U.S. troops are Christian, the legislators wrote, adding that military “censorship” of chaplains’ prayers disenfranchises “hundreds of thousands of Christian soldiers in the military who look to their chaplains for comfort, inspiration and support.”
The American Center for Law and Justice has gathered 173,000 signatures on a petition seeking an executive order.
If you believe this is a unreasonable restriction on public expression of faith you can sign a petition at: