US Marine appeals court-martial for refusing to remove Bible verse

(Image: Liberty Institute)

A U.S. Marine is appealing a court-martial for refusing to remove a Bible verse from her desk.

Monifa Sterling posted the Old Testament passage "No weapon formed against me shall prosper," which her supervisors deemed to be "contrary to good order and discipline," The Week reported.

It said the reason was because the workplace must remain free of "divisive or contentious issues," such as politics and religion.

The Week magazine headlined its story: Only in America: U.S. Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse from desk.

"The plight of Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling seems unbelievable," reported Fox News.

It said the member of the U.S. armed forces was criminally prosecuted for displaying a slightly altered passage of Scripture from the Old Testament: "No weapon formed against me shall prosper."

Sterling represented herself at trial when she was convicted February 1, 2014 in a court-martial at Camp Lejune, North Carolina.

She had refused to obey orders from a staff sergeant to remove the Bible verses from her desk.

The court found her guilty of failing to go to her allotted place of duty, disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer, and four instances of disobeying the lawful order of a noncommissioned officer.

Sterling is unemployed and looking for work now, Fox reported.

"It's a process made harder because of the bad conduct discharge from the military. Hopefully Liberty Institute will be able to restore this Christian Marine's good name and expunge the charge," fox commented.

Should posting a Bible verse in a workplace – specifically a government site – be protected as free speech and expression of religion? in Alabama asked, "Should posting a Bible verse in a workplace – specifically a government site – be protected as free speech and expression of religion?"

The Christian Marine was given a bad conduct discharge and a reduction in rank from lance corporal to private.

A lower court and the appellate court both ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 was not applicable in her case because displaying a Bible verse is not deemed a religious exercise.

Although the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Appeals upheld Sterling's conviction she is taking her case to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

The Liberty Institute is representing Sterling.

Liberty Institute Director of Military Affairs and Senior Counsel Mike Berry said the ruling on Sterling was ridiculous.

"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," Berry said. "Restricting a Marine's free exercise of religion is blatantly unconstitutional.

"If a service member has a right to display a secular poster, put an atheist bumper sticker on their car, or get a Star of David tattoo," Berry said, "then Lance Corporal Sterling has the right to display a small Bible verse on her computer monitor."

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