Navy Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt has just about completed the 18th day of a hunger strike because he was reprimanded for delivering an inappropriate evangelical eulogy aboard ship last month. While the ideological lieutenant claims that his Christian faith is being suppressed by removing the common Christian prayer closing of ‘in Jesus’ name’, a closer examination shows that the real offender here is Lt. Klingenschmitt.
The US Military is one of the few government organizations that still begin and/or conclude just about every ceremony imaginable with a prayer of some sort. This in itself causes serious concerns, but the military is steeped in tradition and slow to change. In 1991 the Department of Defense did make a sweeping change throughout the chaplain’s corp in realizing that not all of its service-members were of the Christian faith. The new directive merely required that chaplains across the board deliver non-denominational prayers when not engaged in a ‘specific’ religious service.
Doesn’t seem too much to ask, considering the federal government is funding this religious activity. So when chaplains are praying at military funerals, graduations, change-of-commands, etc… they are to deliver a generic prayer and when they’re preaching at their faith’s service, mass, temple, etc… they can say pretty much whatever they want.
The Navy allows chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Allah or any other deity during chapel services, [Naval] spokeswoman Lt. Erin Bailey said.
At other public events, “Navy chaplains are encouraged to be sensitive to the needs of all those present,” she said, “and may decline an invitation to pray if not able to do so for conscience reasons.”
Now in typical fundamentalist fashion, Lt. Klingenschmitt calls out the Christian oppression card. Feeling that somehow the the Navy rules don’t apply to him, since he is ordained by God, he has directly violated the regulations on numerous occasions and is now lobbying congress the White House to change the DOD’s position. So he’s not being told to do anything that violates his religious belief, he’s upset that he cannot force his belief system on others.
How is he doing this? Well with assistance from the Christian Coalition, he has amassed some 175,000 signatures and sympathy from 74 congressmen. His main tools are daily prayer services outside of the White House and not eating anything. In an interview with FOX News neo-con, Sean Hannity, Klingenschmitt says he is prepared to go all the way and ‘die’ for this this cause. I wonder if Klingenschmitt is aware that if he fails to eat or submit to medical treatment he will be in violation of yet another Naval regulation that will put his survivor benefits in jeopardy?
My real hope is that Klingenschmitt’s actions will cause the federal government to rethink the role of religion in the military altogether.
Orignially posted on: S.I.M.U.
More info: The Washington Times