Religious Speech in the Military: Freedoms and Limitations
AIR FORCE ACADEMY COLORADO SPRINGS CO DEPT OF LAW
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The freedom to speak and to freely exercise ones religion are two central guarantees of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Military members retain these foundational rights, which the courts broadly protect. But there are characteristics of the military -- including its rank structure and the need for good order and discipline essential to accomplishing the militarys crucial mission -- that justify constraints on the religious speech of all military members beyond what would be constitutionally tolerable in the civilian context. Moreover, additional constraints are imposed on military leaders religious speech by virtue of their rank and position. This article addresses what military leaders need to know about rights and limitations on religious speech, both their subordinates and their own. After examining the freedom of religious speech and three constitutional limitations, the article highlights three selected religious speech issues proselytizing, official prayer, and religious displays. It concludes by providing leaders with 10 guiding principles on religious speech.
- Sociology and Law
- Humanities and History
- Military Forces and Organizations