Last month we received from the United States Air Force their Guidelines on chaplains and prayer. We had provided to the Air Force detailed analysis of the legal issues surrounding the rights of chaplains to engage in the free exercise of religion. There had been a great deal of concern over the ability of chaplains to pray in the specific name of Jesus. We were pleased with the results we received from the Air Force on this issue. We were also pleased that these Guidelines can serve as a model for other branches of the military.
I have instructed our Office of Governmental Affairs to begin work on ensuring that other branches of the military receive the same type of protection as outlined in the Air Forces new Guidelines. To this end, in conjunction with Congressman Walter Jones, we are working on ensuring the constitutional rights of chaplains in the Navy, Marines, Army and National Guard. We have received a number of requests from chaplains who are still having their free exercise of religion rights violated. Colby May, who heads up our Office of Governmental Affairs, is working diligently to protect these chaplains.
At a time when our country is engaged in global war on terrorism, it is essential that our military chaplains be able to meet the spiritual needs of those in their units. We will keep you posted as progress is made on this important issue.