Jason Leopold, The Public Record - The U.S. Army has been subjecting soldiers to fundamentalist Christian prayer ceremonies against their will during mandatory military events in violation of their basic constitutional rights, according to a new lawsuit filed against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates by a U.S. Army soldier.
On at least three occasions beginning in December 2007, Army Spc. Dustin Chalker claims he was directed to attend military events, one of which was a barbecue, where an Army battalion chaplain led a Christian prayer ceremony for military personnel. Chalker, who said he is an atheist, asked his superiors for permission to leave the prayer sessions and on each occasion his request to be excused was denied, according to the lawsuit.
Despite Chalker's objections to being subjected to fundamentalist Christian prayer sessions, his Army superiors continuously forced him to attend other military events where the prayer ceremonies continued. . .
Chalker, 23, who has served in Iraq and Korea since February 2002 and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Combat Medic Badge, is the second Fort Riley solider to file a lawsuit against Gates alleging civil rights violations.
Spc. Jeremy Hall, who is also an atheist, sued the defense secretary and his supervising officer last year for allegedly trying to force him to embrace fundamentalist Christianity and then retaliating against him when he refused. . .