Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy) | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in politics

ACLU suit against military prayer never happened

The statement

"The ACLU has filed a suit to end prayer from the military completely."

Chain email, found by PolitiFact Georgia reader

The ruling

So has everyone heard about the big legal case going on in Washington?

Not the recent three-day hearing before U.S. Supreme Court about the federal government's health care law and its controversial individual mandate.

We mean the case about the American Civil Liberties Union suing the U.S. military, according to a widely circulated chain email.

"ACLU has filed a suit to end prayer from the military completely," the email said. "They're making great progress. The Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus' name in prayer thanks to the ACLU and others. I'm not breaking this one. If I get it a 1000 times, I'll forward it a 1000 times! Let us pray. … Prayer chain for our Military … Don't break it!"

This claim has been circulating for a few years. It may have gotten started in 2006, when a Navy court reprimanded and docked the pay of an evangelical Protestant chaplain. Lt. Gordon J. Klingenschmitt was found guilty of disobeying an order by appearing in uniform at a political protest in front of the White House. He had been critical of the Navy's policies that he said prevented him from saying "Jesus" in a prayer.

In 2009, rumors of an ACLU lawsuit to end prayer completely in the military began spreading through the Internet. That year, PolitiFact swatted down a claim that the ACLU filed a lawsuit to have all military cross-shaped headstones removed with a Pants on Fire ruling.

A year or so later, websites began debunking the claim about prayer in the military.

We checked with the U.S. military to see if anything has changed since the rumors began.

"That's utter lunacy," said Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Defense Department spokesman. "I'm not aware of any notification from the ACLU toward that end."

An ACLU spokeswoman told us the same thing.

"This email has been widely circulated, but there is no such ACLU lawsuit of this kind pending, nor do we intend to file one," spokeswoman Molly Kaplan told us via email. "Military chaplains are certainly allowed to practice their specific faith when conducting specifically sectarian ceremonies and to serve in non-denominational roles when ministering to service members at-large, according to their training."

This one is a Pants on Fire.

This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at

ACLU suit against military prayer never happened 04/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 20, 2012 8:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. AP: Rick Scott to name Jimmy Patronis CFO on Monday


    From the AP's Gary Fineout:

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott is turning to a long-time political ally and former north Florida legislator to take over one of the top elected jobs in state government. 

    Then state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City Beach, left, and Gov. Rick Scott, tour downtown Panama City, Fla. on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Scott will name Patronis CFO on Monday.
  2. Despite Pride success, Grand Central business owners upset over losing parade


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Grand Central District was packed with people Sunday, there to enjoy the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    Patrons eat lunch and cool off inside of the Community Cafe during the St. Pete Pride Street Festival along Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times

  3. Rays blow another lead, lose rubber match to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles rallied past the Rays on Sunday, winning the rubber match of the three-game series 8-5.

    Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop (6) scores in the eighth in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow heads back to Sunshine State with promotion to St. Lucie


    Tim Tebow is coming back to the Sunshine State.

    Columbia Fireflies outfielder Tim Tebow looks out from the dugout before the team's game against the Augusta GreenJackets on April 6 in Columbia, S.C. Columbia defeated Augusta 14-7.
  5. 'Sharknado' coming to Tampa Theatre with director Q&A


    A movie about a tornado filled with man-eating sharks has to be better on the big screen, right? You'll have a chance to find out for yourself when the Syfy network's original Sharknado screens at Tampa Theatre.

    The original 'Sharknado,' which premiered in 2013, will screen at Tampa Theatre.