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Religious Liberty Law Firm: Chaplain Prayers Are Allowed on Military Base

After a special interest group demanded chaplains stop offering prayers on military base, First Liberty advises Air Force that the law allows chaplains to pray

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March 14, 2017

Portsmouth, NH – Today, First Liberty Institute sent a letter to the commander of a New Hampshire Air Force base, advising him that federal law, military regulations, and the Constitution all allow prayer and Bible readings by chaplains at military events.

On February 6, a special interest group sent a letter to Pease Air National Guard Base, demanding that the base commander forbid military chaplains from performing invocations at military events held on the base.

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, an organization of chaplain endorsers that speaks for nearly half of all chaplains in the military, asked First Liberty Institute, a national religious freedom law firm, to advise the Air Force base on the constitutionality of the practice.

“The Constitution, federal law, and Department of Defense regulations all support your practice of permitting uniformed chaplains to offer invocations at command functions,” First Liberty attorneys says in an advisory letter to the commanding base officer. “Moreover, those legal authorities actually forbid military commanders from censoring or prohibiting such invocations.” Read the full letter

“It is perfectly constitutional for military chaplains to offer prayers and Bible readings during ceremonies,” Mike Berry, a former Marine Corps judge advocate, now Senior Counsel and Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, says.

“Military chaplains exist to ensure all service members have the right to free exercise of their religion,” Chaplain (Colonel) Ron Crews, U.S. Army (Retired), Executive Director for the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, says. “The prayers and Bible readings they offer at Pease Air National Guard Base are one of many ways they faithfully discharge that duty. Their faithful service should be respected, not attacked.”

“We hope our Commander in Chief will reverse this trend toward religious hostility so that America’s military can remain strong and resilient,” Berry says.

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Kassie Dulin, Chief Communications Officer for First Liberty Institute. Email: kdulin@firstliberty.org, Direct: 972-941-4575, Cell: 214-542-4334.