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By Jay Sekulow1309027413000

Today more than 160,000 people from across the United States have signed on to a national petition urging President Bush to enact an Executive Order protecting the constitutional rights of military chaplains to pray according to their faith.  Our petition campaign is in conjunction with efforts underway in Congress spearheaded by Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina urging President Bush to act.

 

Military chaplains play a vital role in providing comfort and spiritual support for our men and women who serve this country protecting our freedoms.  It is troubling to learn that efforts are underway inside the military to censor chaplains and to prevent them from praying according to their faith.  The fact is that chaplains have a constitutional right to adhere to the religious expressions of their faith and exercise them freely without censorship.  For Christian chaplains to refrain from praying in the name of Jesus, as some have suggested, represents a serious disservice not only to the chaplains but to the many Christian service men and women who turn to their chaplains for comfort, inspiration, and support. 

 

I am so grateful to the ACLJ for their efforts in drawing attention to this important issue, said Rep. Jones.  I am thankful that so many people have lent their signature and their support to the cause of protecting our military chaplains right of free speech.  After hearing account after account of military chaplains throughout the Armed Services who have experienced the suppression of their constitutional right to pray according to their faith, I believe it is so very important that the President is made aware of this pervasive problem.

 

In addition to working with members of Congress and conducting a national petition campaign in support of military prayer, we also provided the Air Force with a legal analysis of proposed guidelines which would restrict how Air Force chaplains can pray.  In our analysis, we concluded that Air Force chaplains and all military chaplains have a constitutional right to pray according to their faith.  We recommended that the Air Force abide by legal precedent which supports the constitutionality of faith-specific prayer for military chaplains.

 

In an October 25th letter, Rep. Jones requested that President Bush, as Commander and Chief, protect by Executive Order the constitutional right of military chaplains to pray according to their faith.  Nearly 75 members of Congress have signed on to the letter sent to President Bush.  Our sincere thanks go out to the 161,828 Americans who are standing with us to protect military prayer.   

 

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