A U.S. Navy chaplain has begun a hunger strike in Washington to protest a military policy that bans mentioning Jesus in Christian prayer.
Navy Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt believes he may lose his job next month and be evicted from military housing, because during the summer of 2004 aboard the USS Anzio, he preached an evangelistic sermon at the funeral of a Catholic sailor in a base chapel. The lieutenant said he was reprimanded by two senior chaplains and, in March, sent ashore to Norfolk.
Official military policy allows any sort of prayer, but Klingenschmitt admits that in reality, evangelical Protestant prayers are censored, UPI reports.
The American Center for Law and Justice has gathered 173,000 signatures on a petition seeking an executive order, and 73 members of Congress have signed on, saying in an Oct. 25 letter to the president: "In all branches of the military, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christian chaplains to use the name of Jesus when praying."