Comparatively strict guidelines on religion in the military? | Law Offices of David P. Sheldon
Law Offices of David P. Sheldon
Worldwide Representation
202-552-0018

Comparatively strict guidelines on religion in the military?

It is generally understood -- certainly by members of the armed forces -- that free speech is not quite as unfettered generally as it is in the civilian world. Servicemembers don't openly question their superiors about orders received. Troops don't publicly denigrate the president -- who is their commander in chief -- or matters of military policy.

Where is the line drawn, though, if any, regarding religious practice and observances? It is unquestioned that servicemembers have carte blanche to believe as they want in the realm of personal faith, but can military superiors curtail their religious freedom on the grounds that it unreasonably interferes with military order or the proper focus of other servicemembers?

Consider the case of a female Marine, who was told repeatedly by her immediate superior to take down multiple signs she had affixed around her office computer. They contained a slightly altered Bible reference stating that, "No weapon formed against me shall prosper." The woman's boss told authorities, as noted by a media account of the story, that the tone of the messages was "combative."

The Marine refused to comply and was subsequently convicted on multiple counts of disobeying a lawful order and other charges. A military appellate court upheld the conviction. She was demoted in rank and ushered out of the service with a bad-conduct discharge.

At least one commentator on the matter thinks that the case was rightly decided, citing stricter speech that distinguishes military life from civilian society.

Others disagree. The now ex-Marine has assembled a legal team that is appealing her conviction, requesting that it be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Her attorneys argue that the appeals court confirming her conviction too narrowly construed a servicemember's religious freedoms.

The matter is unquestionably interesting. If the Marine's appeal is heard and ruled upon, we will be sure to convey the outcome to readers.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

David P. Sheldon | International Military Law Attorney

For more information, or a free consultation, contact the Law Offices of David P. Sheldon, online or call us at 202-552-0018 or 877-314-1665 toll free.

Office Location

100 M Street SE, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20003

Toll Free: 877-314-1665
Phone: 202-552-0018
Fax: 202-546-0135
Map & Directions

Take The First Step with
a Free Case Evaluation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Email Us For A Response