Source: International Herald Tribune
Wire Service: AP
Christian conservatives in Congress are expected to renew their fight to allow military chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus at public events, contending that existing practices infringe upon basic religious freedoms.
They lost a battle last week to push through legislation that would have allowed military chaplains to publicly lead groups in sectarian prayers. The language was championed by conservatives who say service policies are so restrictive that chaplains cannot invoke Jesus' name when praying in public, including over a dead soldier on the battlefield.
Military chaplains often lead groups in prayer outside private religious services, but omit references to any particular religion. Opponents have said allowing specific religious references during public military prayers could be divisive.
Debate on the legislation came just weeks before the Nov. 7 congressional elections and was seen by critics as a desperate effort by conservatives to cater to religious voters, who in recent elections periodically have swayed election outcomes. Critics also say the language could cripple U.S. efforts to win the "hearts and minds" of Muslims in the Middle East by depicting the American military as evangelizing Christians.