An official information dispatch from the U.S. Navy has drawn the attention of religious freedom advocates because it clearly directs Navy personnel to avoid "indoor religious services."
Ignoring President Donald Trump's declaration that houses of worship are "essential places that provide essential services," the U.S. Navy has banned all Navy personnel, including chaplains, from attending in-house church services in an effort to limit exposure of those personnel to COVID-19. Ironically, the Naval directive specifically approves other places where large numbers of people gather, including unlimited social gatherings, mass transportation, and long lines at the post office.
"This order from the Navy on sailors and military members not attending indoor religious services is clearly in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – freedom of religion, freedom of gathering. So, this is clearly unconstitutional and this directive should have never been ordered," Wildmon relays.
Wildmon also called for President Trump to intervene in what he referred to as a "clear violation of the U.S. Constitution."
"It's ridiculous to consider the U.S. Navy issuing an order that says gathering for worship is banned, but gathering for a protest is okay," adds Abraham Hamilton III, general counsel for American Family Association.
"Though President Trump has declared churches are essential, our Navy has threatened to court-martial service members if they agree with the president and attend indoor church services. We have entered upside-down land."
American Family Association has alerted its supporters of the Navy's move in an Action Alert that includes the opportunity to send an email directly to President Trump urging him to order the Navy to rescind any portion of the directive that restricts or prohibits any member of the military from attending worship services.
Been there, done that
According to First Liberty, at least one Air Force officer assigned to a Navy command has retained legal counsel and is demanding the Navy grant "religious accommodation to attend in-person religious services at his off-base church."
The legal group has taken the case of U.S. Air Force Major Daniel Schultz, as he faces the possibility of being court-martialed after attending church while under Navy command.
First Liberty sent a letter to the Navy on Shultz' behalf, requesting the officer be allowed to attend indoor religious services, and confronting the military branch in regards to their unconstitutional ordinance.
Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates OneNewsNow.com.
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One attorney says Pastor John MacArthur declaring his church in California will meet for services, regardless of what Governor Gavin Newsom (D) says, is constitutionally and theologically sound.
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