An anti-Christian organization is demanding that the U.S.
Military Academy stop allowing cadets to pray during official
events. But according to a former Navy chaplain, that would be a
violation of the First Amendment.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, led by
Barry Lynn, has sent a letter to the superintendent of West Point,
claiming that the Academy's prayer policy runs afoul of the
Constitution and violates the cadets' rights. "West Point cadets
should be able to train for service in our nation's military
without having religion forced upon them," Lynn writes.
But Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former
Navy chaplain who now runs The Pray In
Jesus Name Project, contends that Lynn and others of
his ilk are the ones trying to use government to prevent Christian
cadets from exercising their First Amendment rights.
"He obviously thinks the First Amendment protects the easily
offended ears of the atheist listener, when actually it protects
the free speech of the chaplain or the cadets who talk about God in
prayer," Klingenschmitt comments.
And he points out that Lynn continues to ignore the fact that
the "separation of church and state" argument is not in the
Constitution; it came from Thomas Jefferson's famous letter to the
Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut.
"That's not in the Constitution, and it doesn't mean to limit
military prayers," the chaplain asserts. "The easiest way to prove
that is that in 1802, Thomas Jefferson himself personally signed
the Navy regulations, ordering chaplains to lead prayers on Navy
So Klingenschmitt reasons that more than 200 years later, Barry
Lynn has become an enemy of Thomas Jefferson -- the primary
author of the Declaration of Independence.