House Committee Action Encourages Sectarian Prayer by Military Chaplains
New York, NY, May 8, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply concerned by a provision included in the 2007 Department of Defense Authorization Bill by the House Armed Services Committee that would circumvent the separation of church and state by promoting sectarian prayer in official military ceremonies.
"The divisive language of this bill seems clearly designed to promote and facilitate sectarian prayer by Chaplains in official military ceremonies and events, including those at which attendance is mandatory," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "At a time when the military is still dealing with the fallout from the revelations of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy, it is disturbing that members of Congress would seek to encourage military Chaplains to disregard the Constitutional separation of church and state."
ADL has been in the forefront in urging the military to adopt policies and procedures in response to documented incidents of religious intolerance at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The League is currently working with the Academy to develop training materials to properly implement guidelines on religious activity adopted by the Air Force in February 2006.
"Governmental institutions bear a special responsibility to avoid religious coercion and to respect the rights of religious minorities guaranteed by the Constitution," Mr. Foxman said. "There is nothing in the Constitution – or in current military regulations – to prevent Chaplains from praying in whatever manner they choose – privately or while performing religious services where attendance is voluntary."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.