With all due respect, this is simple
1. Section 6031 does not say that military
chaplains may pray "in Jesus's name," and if it did authorize such
prayers in the chaplains' official capacities, it would almost certainly violate
the Establishment Clause in that respect.
2. For reasons we've discussed at great
length before, chaplains have no Free Exercise rights to pray in the manner of
their choosing when they are acting in their official
3. Citing Lee v. Weisman, and only
Lee v. Weisman, for the proposition that the state must permit
a state employee to give a sectarian prayer in a public capacity, is just about
the most absurd "reading" of a case that I've ever
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, September 30, 2006 5:25
Subject: Re: Victory for Military
Chaplains Who Pray "In Jesus Name"
Ah yes, Marty, the House receded, but so did these (novel,
invasive) Feb 2006 policies recede into oblivion, allowing the real
power of the old law (enshrined since 1860) to be fully
THE LAW, GENTLEMEN: US CODE TITLE 10 SECTION 6031: "An
officer in the chaplain corps may conduct public worship according to the
manner and forms of the church of which he is a member."
And the U.S. Supreme Court disagrees with your interpretation, that
allowing "freedom" in prayer content would somehow violate the establishment
clause, in fact they ruled the opposite:
1991 Lee vs. Weisman (Majority Decision):
"The government may not establish an official or civic
religion as a means of avoiding the establishment of a religion with more
specific creeds...The State's role did not end with the decision to include a
prayer and with the choice of clergyman. Principal Lee provided Rabbi
Gutterman with a copy of the "Guidelines for Civic Occasions" and advised him
that his prayers should be nonsectarian. Through these means, the principal
directed and controlled the content of the prayers. Even if the only sanction
for ignoring the instructions were that the rabbi would not be invited back,
we think no religious representative who valued his or her continued
reputation and effectiveness in the community would incur the State's
this regard. It is a cornerstone principle of our
Establishment Clause jurisprudence that it is no part of the business of
government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to
recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government, Engel v.
Vitale, (1962), and that is what the school officials attempted to
So Marty is technically wrong on both counts:
1) There is a long-standing law to let military chaplains pray in
Jesus name, and
2) Government censorship of anyone's prayer content violates
the First Amendment (unless you disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court).
Smile guys...liberty is prevailing here!
You still believe in freedom of speech, don't you?
Marty Lederman <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
That's actually rather amusing. The House
-- which passed a bill that would have prescribed that chaplains would have
the "prerogative" to pray "according to the dictates of their conscience" --
actually receded in conference. That is to say, the
Senate conferees prevailed, and therefore the law
contains no such prescription.
But then the conferees purport to
"driect" the Secretary of the Air Force to rescind the recent
policy. This is not a "direction" of Congress, let alone a duly
enacted law, and it has no operative legal effect.
Besides which, for the chaplains in their
official capacities to engage in public prayer "in Jesus's name" would
violate the Establishment Clause, and thus could not be "prescribed," even
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