"The government cannot tell chaplains how to pray (not even in school) nor exclude chaplains who pray 'the wrong way.'"
Lieutenant Gordon James Klingenschmitt, CHC, U.S. Navy Reserve
At sea, we hear Chaps announce: "Stand by for evening prayer. . . . Let us pray . . . Amen." Thomas Jefferson started this in 1802, defining the chaplain's job "to read prayers at stated periods." He understood that Sailors don't forfeit freedom of religion when they put on their uniforms. The United States doesn't enforce state atheism as the Soviets did. Many Sailors have told me, "Chaps, your evening prayers are one of the last things keeping me alive out here." Skippers who want a healthy, motivated crew should keep the evening prayer alive. Yet no chaplain (and no skipper) can hog the microphone to establish one shipwide religion. Legally, we must take turns and share the prayer, expressing many diverse views.
Chaplains note the tension between allowing free expression and forcing religion on others. I see three logical solutions: