U.S, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill that would allow all U.S. military chaplains, “if called upon to lead a prayer outside of a religious service, would be free to close that prayer according to the dictates of the chaplain’s conscience.”
The amendment would apply to the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force, Air Force Academy and Military Academy.
The Secular Coalition for America urged members of the House
Armed Services Rules Committee to reject the amendment. “Rep. Bachmann’s amendment would force the military to change their regulations and allow chaplains to invoke the religious figures of their choice at official military events,” the coalition said in a statement.
The coalition noted 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in 1985 (Katcoff v Marsh): “The primary function of the military chaplain is to engage in activities designed to meet the religious needs of a pluralistic military community.”
Government-sponsored prayers have been in the news a lot lately.
Last month, when the Army withdrew evangelist Franklin Graham’s invitation to speak at the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer event, Col. Thomas Collins, spokesman for the U.S. Army, said “We’re an inclusive Army. We honor all faiths. … Our message to our service and civilian work force is about the need for diversity and appreciation of all faiths.”
Also last month, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell decided, “in the interest of religious freedom,” to grant state chaplains the freedom to pray in the name of Jesus at public events. “I just didn’t think it was right, the change that was made a couple years ago, to have an official state policy to tell chaplains of any faith how to pray, whether Muslim or Jew or Catholic or Christian,” Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporter.
UPDATE: Bachmann’s amendment apparently was ruled out or order.