A Chaplain’s Response to a Court-Martialed US Marine

Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling suffered a court martial indictment after she placed a military leadership quote mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures on her computer at her desk at Camp Lejune, North Carolina. The quote was “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17, KJV).
L.Cpl. Sterling was prosecuted as a criminal by the United States Government when she represented herself. She has since appealed her case to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals. She stated that her rights to religious expression were protected by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law used in court to protect religious liberty.
However, the trial and the appellate courts said that displaying quotes from the Holy Bible does not constitute religious exercise, yet they are accusing her of quoting a religious statement (which in and of itself is exercising religion.) L.Cpl. Sterling and her attorneys disagree. Says Liberty Institute Director of Military Affairs and Senior Counsel Mike Berry, “Restricting a Marine’s free exercise of religion is blatantly unconstitutional.” Liberty Institute and attorney Paul Clement are asking the court to rule that the appellate court should have applied RFRA in L.Cpl. Sterling’s case, protecting her right to post Bible verses as a form of religious exercise.
In a recent conversation, Dr. James F. Linzey stated, “When did the former drill instructor become a theologian? Drill instructors often tell Marines to stay in their own lane, meaning to attend to their own business, their own expertise, and do their own jobs, not delve into others’ expertise and work. It is quite obvious to me that the former drill instructor did not practice what he preached, but acted outside his lane. Had he a question about religious expression, he should have phoned the Navy chaplain assigned to the unit.”
Linzey went on to say, “Had the former drill instructor a question on a medical issue, I am certain he would have phoned the medical doctor assigned to the unit. Had he a question about a legal matter, he would have phoned the JAG assigned to the unit. But when the question of religion arose, it appears he assumed to be the resident expert and thought he knew better than the Navy chaplain assigned to the unit.”
Jews, Hebrews, Muslims, Christians, and non-denominational people appreciate and are inspired by the writings of Isaiah. Isaiah’s writings are not the basis of any religion. St. Jerome said that Isaiah was a historian; others said that he was an evangelist, apostle, prophet, perhaps even a chaplain since he was God’s spokesman to several kings of Judah. His historical and futuristic writings were included in Hebrew “Scriptures” unbeknownst to him. Did canonizing the scroll of Isaiah magically make it religious? If it weren’t canonized, would the drill instructor therefore have not decided L.Cpl. Sterling engaged in religious expression? What is the standard in the US Marine Corps?
L.Cpl. Sterling, working for the US military industrial complex, found the statement from Isaiah reassuring and quite fitting for her personal space in her work environment. Perhaps she was determined not to be the next victim of the weapons of warfare of America’s enemies. For this, she was court martialed. The statement “No weapon formed against you will prosper” simply is saying that weapons in military battle will not succeed. If that quote were religious, then every time the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps or any military leader tells U.S. Marines that they will probably not be harmed in a conflict if they follow proper procedures, they would be making religious statements. Should they then be court martialed for making religious statements when they simply tell them they might not be hurt in battle? When the president of the United States says, “God bless America,” should he be impeached? The double standards and hypocrisy show how insane our country has become.
According to Merriam-Webster, ‘Religious’ is relating to or believing in a religion.’ It means devout, pious, reverent, godly, god-fearing, and more. Religious expression on the job can simply be ‘pious,’ or ‘reverent.’ Should one be court-martialed for expressing religion through silent piety or reverence? This is a form of silent religious expression, just like silently posting a leadership quote from Isaiah. Posting leadership statements is something even atheists can do, regardless of who is being quoted.
Perhaps L.Cpl. Sterling should have quoted the rest of Isaiah’s statement at her desk: “…and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.” Perhaps she should simply call down God’s judgment and condemnation against the false judgment handed her by the wicked mouths of deceit and hypocrisy in that courtroom. My prayers are with L.Cpl. Sterling. May God grant her deliverance.





Enjoy this website? Please spread the word :)