It now appears the stage is set for a continuing debate on the issue of military chaplains and the issue of prayer. In the closing hours of the Congressioal term, a small victory to report on this issue and a preview of the work that still needs to be done.
On Friday, an important development occured. The final conference report for Defense Authorization removed the House language for the military chaplains provision rescinding the current military guidelines for chaplains. At the same time, the 1999 Air Force and 2000 Navy regulations on military chaplain prayer were reinstated. Drew Ryan, who directs our office of governmental affairs, indicates this is a small victory by keeping out specific language that would have been problematic and by keeping in place regulations that allow chaplains to perform the duties they were hired to do.
Drew also indicates that while the victory is not yet complete, it is an important first step. What is likely to occur now is the scheduling of Congressional hearings on this topic - likely to take place in January or February at the start of the 110th Congress. The ACLJ is already working to ensure that it is front-and-center for this next Congressional debate.
Thanks to the many ACLJ supporters who stood with us in this fight. It is not over. And, we will continue to work on Capitol Hill to ensure that the rights of military chaplains are protected.