An Air Force officer wants the Navy to grant him permission to attend indoor religious services.
Through his attorneys, Maj. Daniel Schultz said the Navy last week issued COVID-19 regulations that bar personnel from attending activities including “indoor religious services.” According to First Liberty, a Texas-based law firm that specializes in religious cases, Maj. Schultz currently falls under Navy regulations because he is attending the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California.
“Major Schultz is a devout Christian and his sincerely held religious beliefs compel him to participate in religious services at his church, in person,” First Liberty said in a letter sent to officials at the Navy-run school. “Because it bans him from attending church and participating on the worship team, the Navy order substantially burdens Major Schultz’s sincerely-held religious beliefs.”
The Navy regulations permit personnel to take part in other public activities, such as using mass transit, hosting social gatherings and participating in protests while religious worship activities are singled out, First Liberty said.
“The Navy order violates the First Amendment and the (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) and it should be rescinded,” First Liberty said.
“If the Navy truly believes it has a compelling interest in banning church attendance, then the least restrictive means of furthering that interest is to grant Major Schultz a religious accommodation,” First Liberty said in its letter.
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