- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2006

NORFOLK (AP) — A military jury yesterday found a Navy chaplain guilty of disobeying an order by appearing in uniform at a White House protest.

A jury of five officers deliberated for an hour and 20 minutes before deciding that Lt. Gordon J. Klingenschmitt disobeyed a superior officer’s order that he could be in uniform only if he was conducting a “bona fide worship service.”

Lt. Klingenschmitt contended that his appearance at the March 30 press conference, held at the White House to protest a Navy policy requiring nondenominational prayers outside of religious services, qualified as such.

Cmdr. Rex A. Guinn told jurors during closing arguments of the special court-martial that the case was “about an experienced military officer receiving a clear order to not do something.”

Cmdr. Guinn said it did not matter that Lt. Klingenschmitt did not make a speech at the press conference. He said Lt. Klingenschmitt violated the order by deliberately engaging the media when he showed up at the event without receiving prior permission and handed out fliers to reporters in which he likened his actions to the civil disobedience of minority rights icon Rosa Parks.

The penalty phase began immediately after the verdict. Lt. Klingenschmitt could be docked two-thirds of his pay for a year and reprimanded.

Lt. Klingenschmitt, an evangelical Episcopal priest, went on an 18-day hunger strike in front of the White House in December over the right to invoke Jesus’ name in public prayers.



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