News Brief
Navy rule encourages use of "nonsectarian" language

Washington, D.C. - On February 21, with the signature of Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter, the Navy adopted a new official policy that chaplains who wish to use "sectarian" language withdraw themselves from events outside of divine services.

Under the new rules, invoking the name of Jesus would be considered out of line with naval policy.

Navy chaplain Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt, an opponent of the policy, found himself under scrutiny in summer 2004 after presiding over an optional worship service described as a "Christian memorial service" in which a minority of those attending were offended.

"They did a survey of the ship afterwards," Lt. Klingenschmitt said, "and 84 percent of the crew said they believe the chaplain cares for all denominations. Even though some complained, I figured I had an 84 percent approval rating."

Now the lieutenant is urging President Bush to sign an executive order allowing military chaplains to pray according to their own faith convictions. He has indicated that he might sue the Navy if Bush fails sign such an order.

Lt. William Marks, spokesman for the Navy, said that no one will be in trouble for invoking Jesus' name. He said that Lt. Klingenschmitt has blown the new policy out of proportion.

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