The US Military takes pride in the diversity of their soldiers and invites people of all races, creeds, and religions to be a part of their ranks. However, it has become more and more difficult for a Christian to be part of the military and also be true to their personal faith at the same time. It seems the military has made concessions for many previously shunned lifestyles and practices; but more and more stringent against the beliefs of Christians.
The court-martial of a Marine who refused to remove a scripture verse from her workplace will likely discourage other Christians from joining the military to fight and be willing to sacrifice their lives for our nation.
Yesterday, May 27, 2015, Todd Starnes, writer for FoxNews released the following story of Lance Corporal Monifia Sterling where she was given a dishonorable discharge for refusing to remove words written on a small piece of paper. No doubt she used this as a mantra to remind her that she was always protected by God.
This United States Marine was convicted at a court-martial for refusing to remove a Bible verse on her computer – a verse of Scripture the military determined “could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.”
During a two year period, Examiner Patricia Walston wrote to 1,150 individual soldiers through the Soldier’s Angels program. Often this verse came up as being claimed by soldiers who were in Iraq and Afghanistan as their faith builder on a day to day basis. This author also sent many crocheted cross bookmarks that were used as a symbol of the Christian faith when soldiers carried them in their pockets and even attached them to the wall above their sleeping quarters.
The scripture as found in the King James Version reads: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 54:17. This scripture is prayed daily by loved ones over soldiers as a petition for God to take care of their friends and family members serving in the Armed Forces.
Christian soldiers do not leave their faith behind them when they join the service while serving and especially not when they are in harms’ way. Most Christians have a favorite Bible verse that they turn to often as a revitalization of their faith and comment to God. “It was once said that there are no atheists in embattled foxholes?”
Todd Starnes, of FoxNews reports:
“The plight of Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling seems unbelievable – a member of the Armed Forces criminally prosecuted for displaying a slightly altered passage of Scripture from the Old Testament: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”
Sterling, who represented herself at trial, was convicted February 1, 2014 in a court-martial at Camp Lejune, North Carolina after she refused to obey orders from a staff sergeant to remove the Bible verses from her desk.
She was found guilty of failing to go to her appointed place of duty, disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer, and four specifications of disobeying the lawful order of a noncommissioned officer.
As it now stands – Sterling is unemployed and looking for work. It’s a process made harder because of the bad conduct discharge from the military. Hopefully, Liberty Institute will be able to restore this Christian Marine’s good name and expunge the charge.
Both lower court and the appellate court ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not apply to her case because displaying a Bible verse does not constitute religious exercise.
Monifa Sterling has since hired her own legal counselor from the Liberty Institute and former U.S. Solicitor Paul Clement, who is a law professor at Georgetown University, will be representing her. He more recently and successfully represented Hobby Lobby against the Affordable Care Act.
Their argument will be that she should have been able to exercise her right to post the Bible verse as a right to free religious exercise. Atheists have been successful in removing Bibles from hospital rooms – another place where scripture can be a comfort and encouragement.
The stance of the Marines was:
“The implication is clear – the junior Marine sharing the desk and the other Marines coming to the desk for assistance would be exposed to biblical quotations in the military workplace,” the court declared. “It is not hard to imagine the divisive impact to good order and discipline that may result when a service member is compelled to work at a government desk festooned with religious quotations.”
Liberty Institute attorney Hiram Sasser said it was outrageous “that such a small strip of paper could so frighten a drill sergeant.”
“This is a very scary time when you are not allowed to have a very small printed Bible verse in your own personal workspace because it might offend other Marines,” Sasser told me. “Our Marines are trained to deal with some of the most hostile people on the planet. I don’t think they are afraid of tiny words on a tiny piece of paper.”
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.” Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.