A former Marine court-martialed in part for refusing to remove a biblical phrase from her workspace lost her appeal on Wednesday, when a federal court concluded the orders from her superiors did not constitute a “substantial burden” on her First Amendment rights.
Monifa Sterling, who was a lance corporal stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was court-martialed for various offenses relating to separate incidents – including disrespecting a superior officer, disobeying lawful orders, and failing to report to an assigned duty.
But the part of the case that fueled her court challenge involved orders to remove a personalized version of the biblical phrase from Isiah 54:17: “No weapon formed against thee shall prosper.”
Sterling taped the verses in three spots on her workspace. Court testimony said Sterling’s superior repeatedly ordered her to remove the signs — and when she refused, trashed them.
In its 4-1 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces turned away Sterling’s case.
“We reject the argument that every interference with a religiously motivated act constitutes a substantial burden on the exercise of religion,” the court said.
First Liberty Institute, the legal advocacy group representing Sterling, indicated it would appeal to the Supreme Court in coming weeks.
Her superior got twisted over, “No weapon formed against thee shall prosper,” in her personal workspace?? How in the world does that interfere with military discipline?