Almost two dozen members of the Marine Corps University’s faculty staff and students are calling on officials to either cancel or “restructure” the National Day of Prayer event, slated for next week.
The group of 21 has asked the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to represent them in this controversy because apparently they are “justifiably fearful of reprisal and retribution from [event organizers] if they voice their objections.”
MRFF President Mikey Weinstein says the group believes that the event in Quantico, Virginia next Thursday violates their religious freedom civil rights. Weinstein included an email from one of the 21 people his group represents, who said the invitation makes it sound like this is a command-sponsored event.
“I was raised Protestant and have no issue with prayer but when the Commanding General sends out an invitation to a religious event I feel compelled to attend and if I’m not there my absence will be noted and potentially held against me,” the email says.
The civil liberties group has a specific problem with the event’s panel discussion, which appears to be about using religion to make better Marines.
“Come out and learn how leaders use prayer to make hard decisions. Understand how spirituality can help to establish good order [and] discipline as well as contribute to organizational success. Additionally, this panel will explain how proven leaders inspire others,” the email from Navy Chaplain Cmdr. Maurice Buford says.
Military and civilian personnel are invited to attend the ceremony on May 5. Prayers will be offered by religious leaders from Beth Shalom Temple, Ebenezer Methodist, Mt. Ararat Baptist and St. Francis of Assisi churches, according to the Quantico Sentry.
The call to prayer has long been a tradition in American history. A joint resolution by Congress, in 1952, declared an annual, national day of prayer. The first call to prayer was in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation.
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