Rev. Franklin Graham has charged that "there's a tolerance in our culture for everything-except the things of God and His Word" after a Christian Marine corporal was court-martialed for displaying Scripture verses at her computer work station.
"No weapon formed against you shall prosper." This is the Bible verse (Isaiah 54:17) that Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was court martialed over," Graham, who is the President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrote in a Facebook post published on Wednesday. "Unbelievably, she was criminally prosecuted by the U.S. government for displaying this encouraging Scripture on her computer in her workspace. Give me a break-really? Can our society be at a point where a supervisor can order a young Marine to remove a Bible verse from her computer? Others are able to display secular messages without any opposition, but Sterling was targeted by her supervisor. Today there's a tolerance in our culture for everything-except the things of God and His Word. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has been asked to review LCpl Sterling's case-let's pray that this kind of targeting and persecution of Christians by our government will be stopped."
Sterling was convicted last year at a court martial when she did not follow orders to take down the small trips of paper with the Old Testament scripture displayed on her desk, including a paraphrase of Isaiah 54:17, "No weapons formed against me shall prosper."
She represented herself at her trial in February last year, citing her right to religious expression under the First Amendment and her protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.However, the military court found that the Biblical quote could "easily been seen as contrary to good order and discipline," and added, "Maintaining discipline and morale in the military work center could very well require that the work center remain relatively free of divisive or contentious issues such as personal beliefs, religion, politics, etc.," Fox News reported.
Sterling's rank was subsequently reduced from lance corporal to private and she was given a bad conduct discharge, which damaged her future chances at finding employment and makes her ineligible to receive veteran benefits, according to The Washington Post.
Earlier this week, the Liberty Institute and Paul Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General and law professor at Georgetown University who won the Supreme Court case against Obamacare filed by Hobby Lobby, announced they are appealing her case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the highest military court.
Mike Berry, Liberty Institute's director of military affairs and senior counsel, told Christian Today, "If the government can order a Marine not to display a Bible verse, they could try and order her not to get a religious tattoo or go to church on Sunday. Restricting a Marine's free exercise of religion is blatantly unconstitutional.
"If a service member has a right to display a secular poster, put an atheist bumper sticker on their car or get a Star of David tattoo, then Lance Corporal Sterling has the right to display a small Bible verse on her computer monitor."
In a separate interview, Berry told Fox News he believes the additional charges against Sterling were trumped up to cover "a conflict between her and her supervisor."
Liberty Institute attorney Hiram Sasser added, "This is a very scary time when you are not allowed to have a very small printed Bible verse in your own personal workspace because it might offend other Marines."