bible military

A Marine says her religious freedom was infringed when she was forced to remove a Bible quote from her desk.

The case of a Marine who alleges her religious freedom was revoked when she was ordered to remove a Bible verse from her desk is set to be heard by the topmost U.S. military court.

Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling, during May 2013, did not follow the orders of her superior to remove the Bible verse from her workspace. In its ruling earlier on a case, U.S. Navy Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals went against Sterling, when it said that major damage could happen by forcefully asking military employees to do their work in the presence of any religious quotation. In its ruling, the court stated that there is a clear implication of biblical quotations being pushed to junior Marines sharing the desk and other Marines who may approach her desk for any assistance.

The court said that it is easy to imagine this negative impact on discipline and good order which may occur when any service member is forced to do the job at a desk provided by the government, especially if the desk is decorated with religious quotations. This will be more painful if the service member is of another religion.

According to the court, it is not to be underestimated that such an exposure could wreak havoc on the discipline and morale of the command. To maintain the two in a military environment, the workstation must be free from contentious or divisive issues like politics, religion and personal beliefs. It also recommended that a command could act preemptively so that any detrimental effect does not take place.

The case of whether the former Lance Corporal was denied her freedom of religion or simply disobeying orders was accepted by Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The court is yet to fix a particular date, but experts in legal matters say the case would come up for hearing from a period of 30 days and wind up in 60 days.

From the time of her February 2014 conviction, it has been consistently found by the military courts that the order fulfilled its function of preserving discipline and morale. Sterling, however, appealed to the higher court that her rights to free speech were violated according to Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Sterling now must successfully argue that while her superior infringed upon her religious freedom and had “compelling government interest” in doing so.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter