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:: A constitutional law blog by Scalia/Thomas fan David M. Wagner, M.A., J.D., Research Fellow, National Legal Foundation, and Teacher, Veritas Preparatory Academy. Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect those of the NLF or Veritas. :: bloghome | E-mail me ::


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    [::..archive..::]
    ::

    :: Wednesday, September 13, 2006 ::
    The boy who cried persecution

    Maybe it's because I'm prepping the glorious Smith decision again for teaching tomorrow, but my blood is up about people -- and I mean folks who are in some cognizable sense "my" people -- using their faith as a shield against the normal rules that normal people have to live by.

    Writing on WorldNetDaily here, Judge Roy Moore claims that Navy chaplain Lt. Gordon J. Klingenschmitt is "is being tried before a special court-martial for his public opposition to the new Navy policy prohibiting chaplains from praying in the name of Jesus during certain command functions." But as WorldNetDaily more accurately reports here, Lt. Klingenschmitt was actually up (and was convicted today) on a charge of disobeying a direct order "not to wear his uniform during media appearances without permission, unless he was conducting a "'bona fide worship service.'"

    We don't even have to get into the claim that the press conference/protest meeting that he attended in uniform, contrary to orders, was actually a "worship service." It was obviously no such thing within the ordinary meaning of that term as used by the vast majority of Americans, but we can let that pass for now -- because the only thing Lt. Klingenschmitt was convicted of was disobeying an order concerning how he dressed, which of course is well within the authority of his military superiors. He was subjected to no prohibition on prayer whatsoever, nor on praying in the name of Anybody in particular; only on what he could wear while doing so. And even as to that, he was free to choose anything from white tie to beach jammies -- just not his uniform.

    Now, maybe this was the first court-martial in a gazillion years for disobeying an order not to wear the uniform on a particular occasion, in which case maybe we're seeing a discriminatory prosecutorial choice. I don't know, and it would be hard to prove. But if that's what Lt. Klingenschmitt's supporters think is going on, then that's what they should complain about, as distinct from what they are complaining about. He was not on trial for praying, nor for his "public opposition" to the Navy's latest lamebrained policy: he was on trial for disobeying an order concerning his uniform.

    Get some perspective, Christian activists. Don't make everything a martyr-story. We'll have enough of those coming soon enough; don't make it worse by crying wolf now.

    :: David M. Wagner 9:35 PM [+] ::
    ...

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