Press Releases

U.S. Navy Bans Troops from Indoor Religious Services

June 29, 2020

News Release
For Immediate Release: 6.29.20
Contact: Lacey McNiel,
Direct: 972-941-4453

U.S. Navy Bans Troops from Indoor Religious Services
First Liberty Institute asks U.S. Navy to accommodate the religious beliefs of its service members and chaplains to attend in-person religious services

Monterey, CA–First Liberty Institute today sent a letter to the United States Navy on behalf of active duty officer Daniel Schultz asking the U.S. Navy to grant an accommodation so that he may attend indoor religious services.

Read the letter here.

“In open defiance of the Commander in Chief, who recently declared churches as essential to America, the U.S. Navy has threatened to court-martial service members if they go to church,” said Mike Berry, First Liberty Institute General Counsel. “It is absolutely outrageous that our troops can’t go to church, but they can attend a protest or host house parties of any size.”

On June 24, the Navy issued an order that banned troops from attending indoor religious services, although other activities such as using mass transit, hosting social gatherings of any size, and participation in protests are all permitted. But the order specifically states that “service members are prohibited from visiting, patronizing, or engaging in . . . indoor religious services.”  The Navy’s orders apply to everyone assigned to Navy units and vessels including, ironically, its chaplains.  Sailors returning from duty are not permitted to leave their ship until they agree to abide by official U.S. Navy orders preventing them from attending “indoor religious services.”  Service members who fail to abide by the Navy’s orders may be prosecuted via court-martial.

“This order is unlawful and immoral, and President Trump should immediately demand its removal,” says Berry.

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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 Lacey McNiel at or by calling 972-941-4453.

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