The church at Kings Bay Naval Base in happier times.
The Thomas More Law Center has filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in reaction to what they call “an astonishing attack on the religious freedom” of Catholics at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia who have been denied access to religious services on the base and whose priest has been locked out of his chapel.
Because of the priest shortage on military bases, contract priests are employed by the government to ensure that a priest is available when an active duty Catholic Chaplain is not present.
Due to the government shutdown, many GS and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide have been banned from working – even volunteering – despite provisions in the Pay Our Military Act that for provides the funding of employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale and well-being of the military. Reportedly, Protestant services continue to take place and only Catholic services have been shutdown.
Via The Thomas More Law Center:
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Father Ray Leonard, a Catholic priest contracted to serve as base chaplain and Fred Naylor, one of Father Leonard’s parishioners and a retired veteran with over 22 years of service. Fr. Leonard is a civilian Catholic Pastor contracted by the Department of Defense (DoD) to serve as a military chaplain at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia.
Fr. Leonard who served Tibetan populations in China for 10 years, informed the court in an affidavit; “In China, I was disallowed from performing public religious services due to the lack of religious freedom in China. I never imagined that when I returned home to the United States, that I would be forbidden from practicing my religious beliefs as I am called to do, and would be forbidden from helping and serving my faith community.”
On October 4, 2013, Fr. Leonard was ordered to stop performing all of his duties as the base’s Catholic Chaplain, even on a voluntary basis. He was also told that he could be arrested if he violated that order. The approximately 300 Catholic families, including Fred Naylor’s, served by Fr. Leonard at Kings Bay have been unable to attend Mass on base since the beginning of the shutdown.
Additionally, Fr. Leonard was locked out of his on-base office and the chapel. Fr. Leonard was also denied access to the Holy Eucharist and other articles of his Catholic faith. The order has caused the cancellation of daily and weekend mass, confession, marriage preparation classes and baptisms as well as prevented Fr. Leonard from providing the spiritual guidance he was called by his faith to provide.
The submarine base is remotely located. It consists of roughly 16,000 acres, with 4,000 acres comprised of protected wetlands. There are approximately 10,000 total people on the base.
A Catholic Church is located off base in the town of St. Mary’s. However, many of the parishioners both live and work on base and do not own a car and cannot otherwise access transportation. Therefore a sixteen (16) mile journey to and from the off-base church is simply not possible. Moreover, many of the sailors have an extremely limited amount of time off. With their time highly regimented, they are not given a long enough break time for this exceptionally long walk and the Mass service.
Defendants in the lawsuit are the Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Department of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Department of the Navy, Ray Mabus.
Andrew Montalvo, a Talkshow Producer for KFYO out of Lubbock, Texas says this attaclk on religious liberties is “pure spite” coming from the White House.
The chapel is small, regularly unmanned, and when not being used for religion is used also for special events, as the religious symbols are easily removed.
In addition to the argument that it costs nothing to keep open, several times I assisted in setting up and tearing down special events at the chapel, not under order, but voluntarily.
There is absolutely no reason why the chapel would be closed other than the White House going out of its way to hurt the religious and trample on their liberties.
This is why Obama appointed the dim-witted Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary – he was expected to be a “Yes Man” to the Regime’s far- left agenda and he is delivering.
Hat tip: Gateway Pundit.
In other news, via Publius Forum, Obama Administration Says Anti-Muslim ‘Hate Speech’ Can be Punished.
Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, said that inflammatory material against Islam might be a violation of federal civil rights laws. Such a violation could bring the federal government down on those opposing Islam here in the US.
As reported by The Tullahoma News, Killian and the FBI’s Kenneth Moore hosted a “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” to “help” the community learn how anti-Islam speech could land an American before authorities.
“This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion,” Killian told the paper. “This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are.”