Marine veteran discharged over Bible verse may appear before military’s highest court

Former Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling. (Image: Liberty Institute, Wynona Benson Photography)

A veteran discharged over ignoring an order to take down a Bible verse adhered to her computer might have her say as her case may be heard by the military’s highest court.

The Washington Times reported that former Marine Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling received a bad-conduct discharge and was reduced in rank to an E-1 private after refusing to comply with an order from her superior while stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in 2013.

The Bible verse “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” was taped on the side of Sterling’s computer in triplicate.   She refused to take down the variation of Isaiah 57:14 when ordered by a staff sergeant and was eventually discharged.  The violation of a lawful order and other low-level offenses led to the decision.

In February, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Appeal said the verse “could be interpreted as combative and could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.”

Sterling lost her appeal, but the case has been taken on by the Liberty Institute, a nonprofit organization.

“To me, this is analogous to:  What if a Marine wants to get a tattoo of a cross on their shoulder or on their back.  Is the Marine Corps going to tell them that is religious and you can’t do it?” said Michael Berry, a Liberty Institute attorney overseeing the appeal.

According to The Washington Times, Sterling’s upcoming appeal will hinge on her legal team’s presentation of religious rights protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The 1993 law states that the government must provide a good reason to restrict religious activities.  The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces might hear the case later this year.

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