Allen B. West

Marine court-martialed over display of Bible verse

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Those of us who’ve served in the U.S military know we sacrifice some of our personal liberties in order to protect the liberties of others. It’s a commitment we willingly make. However, if there is one thing that should never be assaulted it’s the personal faith of our men and women in uniform. At times it is that faith which enables our warriors to persevere in trials and tribulations. So this recent case involving a U.S. Marine is extremely disturbing.

As reported by, “A United States Marine was convicted at a court-martial for refusing to remove a Bible verse on her computer – a verse of Scripture the military determined “could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.”

“The plight of Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling seems unbelievable – a member of the Armed Forces criminally prosecuted for displaying a slightly altered passage of Scripture from the Old Testament: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” — taken from Isaiah 54:17 a verse which I have used here often. Sterling, who represented herself at trial, was convicted February 1, 2014 in a court-martial at Camp Lejune, North Carolina after she refused to obey orders from a staff sergeant to remove the Bible verses from her desk. She was found guilty of failing to go to her appointed place of duty, disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer, and four specifications of disobeying the lawful order of a noncommissioned officer. The Christian Marine was given a bad conduct discharge and a reduction in rank from lance corporal to private. Both lower court and the appellate court ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not apply to her case because displaying a Bible verse does not constitute religious exercise.”

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I am truly perplexed. Exactly what about an encouraging Bible verse could be seen as “contrary to good order and discipline? Unless there’s a move about in our military to persecute Christians and the Judeo-Christian faith heritage – sure seems that way.

And we all know of the recent quest by Mikey Weinstein to have U.S. Air Force Major General Craig Olson prosecuted for professing his belief in God has played an instrumental part in his career. It seems that the vicious crusade being waged by the radical secular humanist atheists has indeed infiltrated our military. Worse yet, it has perverted the standard of common sense.

I’d tend to believe an American Marine displaying a Bible verse stating that “no weapon formed against me shall prosper” is exactly the type of Marine we’d want serving our Republic. A Marine who believes her faith enables her to be more than victorious over any challenge — that also comes from a Bible verse in Romans chapter eight, by the way.

And a bad conduct discharge? Perhaps there’s something here I’m not reading correctly. Also, can someone please explain to me what exactly constitutes a “religious exercise?” I suppose crying out to God while doing lots of push-ups?

Maybe there’s more here than meets the eye? Could it be that the supervisor had some beef against this Marine – I’d love to see her previous FITREPS (performance reports).

My recommendation is that the Commandant of the Marine Corps reverse this foolishness, unless there’s something we are all missing. Why? Because CPL Sterling has called in some big guns: “A religious liberty law firm and a high-powered, former U.S. solicitor general have taken up her case and have filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. “If the government can order a Marine not to display a Bible verse, they could try and order her not to get a religious tattoo, or go to church on Sunday,” said Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry. “Restricting a Marine’s free exercise of religion is blatantly unconstitutional.” Now representing CPL Sterling are the Liberty Institute along with former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, also a law professor at Georgetown University. Clement most recently won a Supreme Court victory on behalf of Hobby Lobby against the Affordable Care Act. Liberty Institute and Clement plan to argue that the appellate court should have applied the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Sterling’s case – protecting her right to post Bible verses as a form of religious exercise.”

Here is another case of excessive response and I must once again ask, where are the adult leaders in our military who would say these charges are dumb and we are not going further with this? At some point there was an officer who consented to these charges going forward. There was some JAG officer who believed it was the right thing to do — just as they enforce insidious rules of engagement on the battlefield forcing our warriors into difficult situations for fear of prosecution.

This is how absurd this case is: “According to court documents, the military maintains the “verbiage” – “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” could “easily been seen as contrary to good order and discipline.” “Maintaining discipline and morale in the military work center could very well require that the work center remain relatively free of divisive or contentious issues such as personal beliefs, religion, politics, etc.”

I have no issue with the stipulation of not openly displaying political propaganda – that’s actually part of the Hatch Act. But to give this Marine a Bad Conduct Discharge over the display of a simple and probably innocuous Bible verse is insane. CPL Sterling did not share her desk. As Fox reports “This was a conflict between her and her supervisor. Her supervisor clearly said she did not like the tone of the Bible verses. Adding insult to injury, the government charged her with the crime of failing to obey a direct order because she did not remove the Bible verse.”

Now, imagine this hypothetical situation. What if CPL Sterling had a Bible on her desk so that perhaps she would stop on occasion at appropriate breaks and read a few verses from her Bible — is that a religious exercise? If the supervisor had come up and ordered her to remove the Bible and stop reading verses and CPL Sterling refused, are those grounds for courts-martial and a bad conduct discharge? What if CPL Sterling had a crucifix displayed on her desk — does that constitute a religious exercise?

I do not know about y’all, but I’ve had it with this culture of prosecuting Christians because of their faith. Doggone draw a cartoon of Mohammad and Islamic jihadists want to kill you. Display a Bible verse and be tried in court.

Liberty Institute attorney Hiram Sasser stated, “This is a very scary time when you are not allowed to have a very small printed Bible verse in your own personal workspace because it might offend other Marines,” Sasser told me. “Our Marines are trained to deal with some of the most hostile people on the planet. I don’t think they are afraid of tiny words on a tiny piece of paper.”

Funny, we won’t confront ISIS on the battlefield but a small piece of paper with a Bible verse constitutes a national security threat. And as for young Marine CPL Sterling? She’s now unemployed and looking for work – a process made harder because of the bad conduct discharge from the military.

Damn shame, a Bible verse results in a bad conduct discharge. Desertion gets your family a Rose Garden ceremony and accolades as having served with honor and distinction. That’s completely FUBAR.

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