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Church-state separatist taking on West Point

Chad Groening   ( Friday, December 21, 2012

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.

Klingenschmitt, Gordon (former Navy chaplain)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 ships."

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.

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