Two weeks ago, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces heard an historic case involving religious freedom in the military. This court is essentially the Supreme Court of the military and will have a far-reaching impact on people who serve in the military and other areas of governmental service.
Marine Monifa Sterling was court-martialed because she posted a Bible verse in her workplace. The Lance Corporal was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Her supervisor ordered her to remove it. She asked why, and the supervisor said, ‘I don’t like the tone.” The verse was from Isaiah 54:17 – “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” The next morning, Sterling found that the verses had been torn down and thrown in the trash. She reprinted the verses and put them back up and later found out that she had been court-martialed.
Arguing for her before this military court was Paul Clement, a former solicitor general of the United States who has argued more than 75 cases before the Supreme Court. He argued that the military should accommodate religious exercise whenever it is possible.
The case is important because it will determine whether the requirements of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act should be applied to men and women serving in the military. Sterling’s freedom to post a Bible verse should be protected by that law, and a decision in her favor would be a significant precedent that service members have a right to religious freedom.
Michael Berry is the Director of Military Affairs at First Liberty and a frequent guest on Point of View. He reminds us that the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the military code all protect the right of service members to express their faith freely.
The court should rule in her favor and thereby provide religious freedom for anyone serving in the military or other areas of governmental service.