16 October 2013

Separating Truth from Idiocy in Shutdown Rhetoric

The headline from Reuters reads: Navy priest sues over right to celebrate Mass during U.S. shutdown

Let's look at what the article actually says

A Roman Catholic priest who says the government shutdown keeps him from performing religious services at a U.S. Navy base filed suit with a parishioner on Tuesday to be able to celebrate Mass at a chapel.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington by the Rev. Ray Leonard, of St. Marys, Georgia, claims the shutdown barred him from carrying out religious duties at the Kings Bay, Georgia, submarine base.

Leonard and parishioner Fred Naylor, a Navy veteran from St. Marys, said the shutdown violated their First Amendment rights to free speech, association and exercise of religion.

Leonard, a civilian, said he had been told that if he celebrated Mass at the base's Kings Bay Chapel voluntarily during the shutdown he would be arrested. Leonard's contract with the Navy started on October 1, when the shutdown began.

The suit said that the chapel was closed to Catholic services but Protestant services were still being held there.

Scott Bassett, a base spokesman, said the Navy lacked funds to pay Leonard and denied he had been told he would be arrested. Active-duty personnel unaffected by the shutdown were performing Protestant services, he said.

The suit seeks to prevent the government from applying a law that allows voluntary services only in emergencies.

The lawsuit is filed against Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy.

He's not a "Navy Priest" as the headline alludes. He's a contractor hired to support a Navy base that does not have an active duty priest assigned to support the on-post population.
They're also not prohibiting anyone's First Amendment exercise of religion. They're preventing the use of government facilities to do so by non-government employees. No one is stopping Catholics on post from going to a local church.
Is it stupid? Yes. It's absolutely stupid that a bunch of adults in Washington are acting like 8-year-olds. Moreover the choices about how different departments and agencies behave during the government shutdown has been equally stupid.
But it's not an attack on religion, it's not an attack on the military, and it's not an attack on the First Amendment, unless you're already inclined to believe the worst about everything you see about the President.

By: Brant

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