A disgraced US Marine who was given a bad-conduct discharge over a series of disciplinary issues -including the posting of a Bible verse in her office space- has taken her case to the US Supreme Court.
While ex-Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was court-martialed over a series of disciplinary disputes stemming from the display of Bible Verse Isaiah 54:17 (“”No weapon formed against me shall prosper”), wherein she was repeatedly ordered to remove the postings, resulting in her diversion or outright refusal of lawful orders.
However, the First Liberty Institute -who represents Sterling- has argued that the order was unlawful because it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), despite the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruling that the order was not a “substantial burden” on Sterling’s religious expression.
Since that ruling, First Liberty Institute lawyers have argued that the court should have adopted a broader definition of “substantial burden.”
“Ms. Sterling posted the Bible verse as an expression of her faith- an expression which should have been protected under RFRA,” said Mike Berry, the Institute’s military affairs director. “We hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will take her case and uphold her right to religious freedom, setting a clear precedent for all service members and their future expressions of faith within our military.”
According to The Christian Times, Military Religious Freedom Foundation senior research director Chris Rodda noted that Sterling was found guilty of failing to go to her appointed place of duty, disobeying direct orders to wear a proper uniform and disrespecting a commissioned officer.
“The disrespecting of a commissioned officer occurred a few days before the Sunday on which Sterling was assigned to be on duty giving out the passes,” Rodda wrote in an editorial. “Sterling refused to take the passes from the major who was trying to give them to her, an incident witnessed by a First Sergeant who, when asked at the court-martial to describe Sterling’s behavior towards the major, said it was ‘the most disrespectful thing [he] had witnessed from a Marine of junior rank’ to a commissioned officer in his over eighteen years of service.”
Justices are expected to vote on whether or not to take the case in early 2017.
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