A former Navy chaplain kicked out of the service for wearing his uniform in a protest at the White House has sued to get his conviction overturned, get back pay, and either reinstatement or full retirement.
Former Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt’s court-martial and dismissal was the culmination of a series of clashes with the Navy over his invoking Jesus’ name in prayers at military public events attended by non-Christians.
Among the claims in the suit, Klingenschmitt argues that the court-martial, along with the failure of the Defense Department’s inspector general to fully investigate his complaints against the Navy, were capricious and arbitrary.
A Navy spokeswoman confirmed service officials are in receipt of the lawsuit, and said the Justice Department would represent the Navy going forward.
Since his discharge, Klingenschmitt has launched The Pray in Jesus’ Name Project in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1986. He took his commission in the Air Force and was a major when he asked to transfer to the Navy, which reduced him one pay grade to lieutenant.
Klingenschmitt claimed he was barred by commanders from referring to Jesus in his prayers, and that they demanded his prayers be secular so as not to offend non-Christians.
He conducted an 18-day hunger strike in front of the White House in January of 2006 to protest what he considered unconstitutional restrictions on how he could pray. Two months later — in violation of an order not to wear his uniform at a public demonstration — he showed up again at the White House in uniform.
He was then charged with disobeying an order, convicted and, after his appeal was rejected, separated from the Navy.
This article was written by Bryant Jordan for Military.com …