A religious freedom law firm has convinced the Navy to reverse course on its ban on service members attending "indoor religious services."
As reported by OneNewsNow on Wednesday, an official information dispatch on June 24 from the U.S. Navy banned all naval personnel – including chaplains – from attending in-house church services in an effort to limit exposure of those personnel COVID-19. Now the Navy has revised that policy.
The updated policy states that "nothing in [the memo from SECDEF] should be construed to restrict attendance at places of worship where attendees are able to appropriately apply COVID-19 transmission mitigation measures, specifically social distancing and use of face covering."
The change came in response to a June 29 letter sent by First Liberty Institute on behalf of several service members who believed their constitutional rights were being violated by the directive. First Liberty attorney Mike Berry says a huge public outcry ensued when the original policy sent public.
"I think this shows that when religious freedom is under threat – especially when it comes to our military – the American people won't stand for that," he tells OneNewsNow. "They made their voices loud and clear, and the Navy heard and fixed this."
The attorney describes the reversal as "a major victory" for religious freedom within the military that means "tens of thousands of our brave service members will be able to safely and freely exercise their religious beliefs."
Berry gives a lot of credit to President Donald Trump for declaring "houses of worship essential" and "very important essential places of faith." But the attorney says the Institute will fight for religious liberty even should a hostile administration comes into power.
"Religious liberty is always going to need to be defended in this country – and First Liberty Institute is not going anywhere," he states. "We will continue to be on the front lines to defend religious liberty, regardless of what happens in elections and politics."
Berry says the fight to defend religious liberty never ends – and that the price for freedom is eternal vigilance.