Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove bible verse from desk

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Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was court-martialed for disobeying orders after she refused to remove a decorative Bible verse from her work desk.

The verse, which reads, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper,” was deemed by the military to be one which “could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline,” reports Fox News.

Both a lower and appellate court declared that displaying a Bible verse was not part of religious exercise and that therefore the case did not fall under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but a religious liberty law firm has taken up the case and intends to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Learn more about the details of the conviction below:

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“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.”

The court pointed out that Sterling shared her desk, stating:

The implication is clear – the junior Marine sharing the desk and the other Marines coming to the desk for assistance would be exposed to biblical quotations in the military workplace. It is not hard to imagine the divisive impact to good order and discipline that may result when a service member is compelled to work at a government desk festooned with religious quotations.

However, at the time of the incident, Sterling was not sharing a desk. Moreover, she noted that other Marines were allowed to decorate their own desks, but that evidence was not allowed to be admitted in court.

Berry believes that the whole case comes down to a conflict between two people rather than a court marshal offense.

“This was a conflict between her and her supervisor,” he said. “Her supervisor clearly said she did not like the tone of the Bible verses.”

“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,” said Liberty Institute attorney Hiram Sasser. “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.”

Now, Sterling is out of work, and her search for a new job is hampered by her bad conduct discharge and her reduction in rank from lance corporal to private.