- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2006

NORFOLK (AP) — A jury recommended yesterday that a Navy chaplain receive a letter of reprimand for disobeying an order by appearing in uniform at a political press conference at the White House.

The jury also recommended that Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt forfeit $250 pay per month for a year but suggested that the monetary punishment be suspended.

Rear Adm. Frederic Ruhe, commander of the Navy’s Mid-Atlantic Region, must decide whether to approve the recommendation.

The jury of five officers at Lt. Klingenschmitt’s special court-martial determined Wednesday that he had disobeyed a superior officer’s order prohibiting him from wearing his uniform during media appearances without prior permission.

Lt. Klingenschmitt said he believes he was punished for making a political speech in uniform because he prayed in Jesus’ name. He had argued that he was allowed to wear his uniform if conducting a “bona fide worship service.”

“I will continue to pray in Jesus’ name, I will continue to worship in public and I will not be broken,” he said Wednesday.

Reprimands often end an officer’s career because they are a permanent part of the service record and prevent promotion to the next grade.

Lt. Klingenschmitt said he would appeal the conviction and fight to remain a chaplain. He said senior naval officials already had decided to fire him before the March 30 event, which protested Navy policy requiring nondenominational prayers outside of religious services.

Last December, the chaplain went on an 18-day hunger strike in front of the White House over the right to invoke Jesus’ name outside such services.



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