Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back to the US legal system.

It's been a little while since I posted here, so I'm starting back in with something simple: separation of Church and State.

I know, hardly a simple topic, but nothing in Constitutional Law is easy. However, I think in this case it's a little more straight forward. There is a case being brought against the U.S. Department of Defense by an atheist army soldier.

The text of the First Amendment is as follows: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What does that mean in this case? From the article, I gather that the majority of the soldier's complaint stems from his treatment by other soldiers rather than from formal actions of the military. If that is the case, I can't see how the case can have merit. In order to attain freedom of religion, the military can't keep anyone from practicing their religion, right? What if part of that religion involves the belief that one must evangelize? In that case, to prevent soldiers from attempting to convert someone would be restricting freedom of religion, would it not?

However, if the military, in it's official capacity, treated Spc. Jeremy Hall any differently than any other soldier then the case does have merit. In the eyes of a bureaucracy, a soldier is just a soldier and is dealt with according to the rules set out in triplicate. Or so it should legally be.

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