Navy Chaplain convicted at special court-martial

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Sep 14, 2006 12 Comments ›› Ben DuPré

Navy Chaplain convicted at special court-martial

Chaplain Gordon J. Klingenschmitt was convicted yesterday (http://worldnetdaily NULL.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51973)at a special court-martial for disobeying an order because he prayed in his Navy uniform at a press conference on March 30, 2006. Today the military jury recommended (http://msnbc NULL.msn that he be punished with a letter of reprimand and a dock in his pay (suspended), although the recommendation must be approved by the Admiral in command. The Chaplain has vowed to appeal (http://www NULL.wdcmedia NULL.php?ID=1860) all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

(For background on the Chaplain’s plight, see our earlier post here (http://morallaw and Judge Moore’s column here (http://www NULL.worldnetdaily NULL.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51844).)

The Trial

Judge Moore, Greg Jones, and I were at the court-martial in Norfolk, Virginia, where Judge Moore was prepared to testify in the Chaplain’s defense. The trial began on Tuesday, Sept. 12, and the prosecution put on their case. They paraded out (http://www NULL.wvec NULL.html) the Chaplain’s Captain and superior Chaplains in an attempt to besmirch Chaplain Klingenschmitt’s character, criticize the performance of his duties, and brand him a “troublemaker.” Other witnesses testified that they saw Chaplain Klingenschmitt in uniform at the press conference on March 30, but that all he did was pray and hand out a written statement by Rev. Rob Schenck. He even declined to give any comments when asked questions by the press.

When the prosecution rested, the Chaplain and his lawyer changed their tactic and decided not to call any of their own witnesses or present any more evidence. They felt the prosecution witnesses had adequately described the March 30 event and no more evidence was necessary to show that Chaplain Klingenschmitt had not disobeyed the order by his Captain. So neither Judge Moore nor anybody else testified in defense of the Chaplain.

The jury of five Navy officers deliberated for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and came back with their disappointing verdict: guilty.

The sentencing hearing was then immediately held. Witnesses at this part included the Chaplain’s wife, a former Air Force Colonel who was Klingenschmitt’s superior when he was in the Air Force, and a former sailor who had overcome depression through counseling by the Chaplain. They all testified movingly about Chaplain Klingenschmitt’s dedication to his wife, the Navy, and the Lord. It’s a shame that Chaplains like Gordon Klingenschmitt, who are not afraid to express their faith or preach or pray in the name of Jesus, are receiving punishment instead of praise and promotion.

In the Chaplain’s Wake

Chaplain Klingenschmitt is not the only chaplain in military service who desires to pray in the name of Jesus. There are most likely many evangelical chaplains watching this case closely to see how it affects them. What the Navy has done to Chaplain Klingenschmitt will have a ripple effect through the Navy and the other branches of the armed forces. Chaplains are now on notice that too much zeal for their faith is punishable and their freedom to pray is now severely curtailed.

The Navy’s policy restricting prayers should be changed to allow chaplains the freedom to pray according to their conscience. If the Navy does not, then it is the Commander-in-Chief’s duty to make it right and see to it that the religious freedom of America’s military chaplains is fully protected.

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  1. JAMES DUNAWAY says:

    Thanks for all you are doing in the name of God. I thought it would be great for me to serve my country and my God but with what maybe I just need to serve my GOD. When I die I may leave my country but I will never leave my GOD.

    GARDENDALE, AL 35071

  2. Carol Lindsey says:

    Wake up America! The evil doers’ are trying to take over. Christians’ get involved! Lots of Americans’ have no idea what’s going on in this country! Prayers’ are NOT answered if we don’t pray in Jesus’ name. These evildoers’ are leaders’ in our government! Thank God for a leader like Mr. Moore who took a “beating’ because he loves Jesus! But, Christians’ need to start speaking up for our leaders’ like Mr. Moore! God Bless, Carol

  3. Paul Young says:

    It is not only disappointing but downright infuriating that a man of God, a Navy Chaplain, should be punished of all things for doing what his designation as a Chaplain clearly mandates, praying according to his faith. The military services live under the jurisdiction of the same Constitution that all Americans live under which begs the question: How is it that a Navy Chaplain or any pastor for that matter can be muzzled (censored) for exercising their freedom under the First Amendment which specifically prohibits government interference in the free exercise of religion? It can only happen when black robed tyrants are allowed to steal the republic from us and run it according to their dictates. Its been said that evil only triumphs when good people do nothing. Well meaning Americans, Christians in particular, must not continue to ignore the rising tide, a tsunami, of persecution in the form of viewpoint discrimination and radical intolerance to all things Christian. We are at war with the radical left and losing some battles as was the case here, but there are positive signs we are winning this internal war just as we can win the external war against Islamic Facism but it will require unceasing prayer and demonstrable action. I pray Chaplain K will succeed in his appeal. If nothing else maybe it will move this President to issue the much needed Executive order to reverse this wrong headed policy.

  4. Barbara Moore says:

    Our first Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army agreed to accept the job on several conditions, one of which was that paid Christian chaplains be assigned to the troops. In no other name was a prayer uttered, than in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many times throughout our War for Independence, General Washington admonished the troops to conduct themselves as “Christian” soldiers. He required them to attend Divine Service weekly. Not only were the American soldiers to attend church but were told by the General to pray for our country while there, and they prayed in the Name above all names, Jesus Christ. WHERE is our Commander-in-Chief today? Do we have one? General Washington knew that the safety of our country depended upon Jesus Christ. To deny our chaplains the right to pray in His Name is to deny Jesus Christ. May God grant us repentence, and in Jesus Name, I still pray. Barbara Moore

  5. Eric Shank says:

    I am an active duty Chief Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy. As a corpsman I work closely with military Chaplains, I work in conjunction with them in resolving many Sailors issues. Of the many Chaplains I have worked with I have always had the utmost respect and admiration for all of them. However I am very disappointed with the issue that Chaplain Klingenscmitt is raising. Onboard a ship such as I was recently stationed (with Chaplian Klingenschmitt) there is only one Chaplain and he provides spiritual leadership to all crewmembers. Many times the Chaplain may be the only one a crewmember feels will listen objectively. The neutrality so to say of the Chaplain is one of his greatest assets in providing spiritual guidance and counseling to a troubled sailor. If we do not maintain a certain generality to the services provided by the Chaplain then many sailors, who could benefit from some guidance will avoid the Chaplain if they feel they are being subjected to the Chaplains specific beliefs. I know this for a fact because many Sailors onboard the Ship would come to me about personal issues and I would always ask “Have you or would you like to talk to the Chaplain?’ and I would generally get the same answer when it came to Chaplain Klingenschmitt. No or I do not wish to talk to him. There are many different religions and many different beliefs among the Sailors in the United States Navy, and would be unethical to force certain beliefs onto them. As current policy stands Chaplain Klingenschmitt can pray in the manner of his beliefs when holding services for his religion but when in a public or general setting he is asked to pray to God only. If this request cannot be accomodated by his religious beliefs then it is not conducive to military service.

  6. George Clinton says:

    There is no god. geeze.

  7. Kenneth R. Stallings says:

    George there is A GOD and you WILL stand before him someday! I pray that He will convict you of your unbelief for there is only ONE way to Heaven! Your way is a direct connection to Hell for eternity. We need to pray for those who are this blind. Satan IS alive and well in our country! May we repent of our unbelief as a nation lest he allow us to be destroyed!!

  8. Allan Mikes (http://AMiles1tampabay NULL.rr says:

    It is very apparent that social and moral decay is running rampant. Since the ACLU became our governing father in America’s social affairs the civil rights of Christians more so than any other religion have been under attack. This could all be terminated & rectified by our Commander in Chief. Our government in past history achieved such success that America became a Super Power. After our Courts (STATE) threw God out of the schools so our youth would be politically correct we have observed nothing but violence and disrespect for laws and country. Mainstream America wants it’s past heritage and customs re-instated and a reversal of Judicial rulings that favored the ACLU regarding Our Religions and Heritage

  9. Allan Miles (http://AMiles1tampabay NULL.rr says:

    America’s elders wrinkled but wise know that often it was only for the Grace of God that America thrived and held the title of Super Power until recently. Once we allowed the ACLU to dictate our Religiously Politically Correct social affairs we activated disrespect and moral decay. Many of us seniors are observing our heritage and our efforts be untied. Notice how united means one thing and untied (only positioning of the letters) means the exact opposite. Under God means America will thrive. LEST WE FORGET how we obtained our past sucess. ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS.

  10. Allan Miles (http://AMiles1tampabay NULL.rr says:

    The most impressive action our President could take to display a sign that America is still intact would be to put his signature on a presidential order to re-instate God into doctrines (sermons) by Chaplains as deemed necessary for their professional needs. Chaplains need to have the freedom to speak from their hearts without the inhabition of picking words to retain political correctness. I never heard the words political correctness until the ACLU interfered into our society. America does not need the ACLU meddling with religions or heritage.

  11. Chaplain files suit against Navy in federal court at Firm Foundation (http://morallaw says:

    [...] Our friend Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, with the Rutherford Institute and some legal assistance by the Foundation for Moral Law, has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Navy over his lengthy struggle for the right to pray in Jesus’ name. (See earlier blog posts here, here, and here for background info.) [...]

  12. John B. Cerullo (http://none) says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Eric Shank.

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