A U.S. Marine has been convicted at a court-martial for displaying a Bible verse. Now her case is being appealed to the military’s highest court.
When Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling has was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, she posted Isaiah 54:17, which reads, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
Liberty Institute reports she printed out the verse and posted it in her workspace. Her supervisor complained about it, reportedly cursing at her and telling her to remove it.
Sterling contended she had a First Amendment right to religious expression and did not take down the verse. She says the next day her supervisor tore down the verse and threw it in the trash.
The U.S. government then criminally prosecuted Sterling.
In the case, Sterling argued her First Amendment rights to religious expression, as well as her protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA.
Both the trial court and the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals said the RFRA did not apply because displaying a Bible verse does not constitute religious exercise.
“If the government can order a Marine not to display a Bible verse, they could try and order her not to get a religious tattoo, or go to church on Sunday,” said Liberty Institute Director of Military Affairs and Senior Counsel Mike Berry.
“Restricting a Marine’s free exercise of religion is blatantly unconstitutional,” he charged.
Now former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement and Liberty Institute are appealing on Sterling’s behalf, asking the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to take the case and protect Sterling’s right to religious freedom.