A Marine veteran who was discharged over ignoring an order to take down a Bible verse taped to her computer may have her case heard by the military’s highest court.
Former Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling received a bad-conduct discharge and was reduced in rank to an E-1 private after refusing an order from her supervisor while assigned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in 2013.
“No weapon formed against me shall prosper,” she had taped to the side of her computer in triplicate, Military Times reported Wednesday.
When a staff sergeant told her to take down the variation on Isaiah 57:14, she refused and was ultimately discharged. Her violation of a lawful order, along with other low-level offenses, led to the decision, the newspaper reported.
The Bible verse “could be interpreted as combative … [and] could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline,” the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Appeals said in February.
Private Sterling, a native of New York, lost her appeal but the case has been taken up by the nonprofit organization the Liberty Institute.
“To me, this is analogous to: What if a Marine wants to get a tattoo of a cross on their shoulder or on their back. Is the Marine Corps going to tell them that is religious, and you can’t do it?” said Michael Berry, the Liberty Institute attorney overseeing the veteran’s appeal, Military Times reported.
Private Sterling’s upcoming appeal will hinge on her legal team’s presentation of religious rights protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The 1993 law says that the government must provide a good reason to restrict religious activities, the newspaper reported.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces may hear the veteran’s case sometime later this year, the newspaper reported.