Priest Sues Military Over Ban Against Mass On Military Base

Last week I reported that the Obama administration had ordered all contract and general service Catholic chaplains to stop performing any religious duties on military bases during the government shutdown.  The orders they received also banned them from volunteering their services under the threat of being arrested.

A number of military bases here in the US and abroad do not have active duty chaplains assigned to them so the military will contract with civilian priests to perform mass, weddings, baptisms, funerals, communion, etc. at these bases.  John Schlageter, General Counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, pointed out that the military is able to come up with the funds to continue military academy sporting events such as football games, but cannot see fit to even allow a Catholic priest to volunteer his services for the religious requirements of US military personnel.

Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia is one of the military bases that relies on a contract priest to perform the same duties and responsibilities of an active military chaplain.  Father Ray Leonard is the contract priest for the submarine base.  At the start of the government shutdown, Leonard received orders telling him to stop all religious service on the base until the shutdown is over and he is notified otherwise.

There are about 300 catholic families that gather to worship at King’s Bay and none of them have been allowed to attend mass or any other religious service on the base since the shutdown.  Although there is a Catholic church sixteen miles from the base, many of the parishioners live on base and don’t own a car and have no transportation to travel to the Catholic church in town.

Leonard and Fred Naylor, a parishioner of Leonard’s and a retired veteran of 22 years of service had filed a lawsuit in the US District Court of Washington challenging the legality of barring him from performing his religious duties and violating the religious rights of the military personnel stationed at the base.  Thomas More Law Center is representing Leonard and Naylor in their lawsuit.  The lawsuit lists the defendants as the Department of Defense, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Department of the Navy and the Secretary of the Department of the Navy, Ray Mabus.

In an affidavit, Leonard stated:

“I was disallowed from performing public religious services due to the lack of religious freedom in China.  I never imagined that when I returned home to the United States, that I would be forbidden from practicing my religious beliefs as I am called to do and would be forbidden from helping and serving my faith community.”

The Thomas More legal team commented about the lawsuit saying:

“Additionally, Fr. Leonard was locked out of his on-base office and the chapel. Fr. Leonard was also denied access to the Holy Eucharist and other articles of his Catholic faith. The order has caused the cancellation of daily and weekend Mass, confession, marriage preparation classes and baptisms as well as prevented Fr. Leonard from providing the spiritual guidance he was called by his faith to provide.”

Prior to the supposed government shutdown Congress passed the Pay Our Military Act, which provides funding for employees whose duties contributed to the morale and well-being of the military.  One would expect that to include the religious well-being of military personnel which is one of the issues being addressed in the lawsuit.  The Thomas More staff also pointed out that the ban on contract and general service chaplains has been applied to Catholics and not to Protestants.  They believe that the military has intentionally targeted the Catholic chaplains at the expense of the religious freedom of thousands of active duty Catholic military personnel.

I am not Catholic, but I also see this as another attack on non-Muslim religions by the White House.  Ever since Barack Hussein Obama took office in January 2009, he has purposefully launched one attack after another at Christians and Jews.  Yet I have yet to see one single similar attack launched at his Muslim brothers.  While I don’t have proof that Obama is a Muslim, I can say that he talks, acts and governs more like a Muslim than the Christian he declares himself to be.  When I see Obama doing things like this it reminds me of Matthew 7:15 which states:

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”