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By Francis Lee, OnePeterFive, July 8, 2020
Francis Lee is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He has served on two deployments in the South China Sea as part of Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Japan. His writing has appeared in Crisis Magazine, Catholic World Report, and Providence Magazine. The views expressed are those of the individual only and not those of the Department of Defense (DoD).
On June 23, the Navy issued an order that banned sailors from attending off-base indoor religious services in order to effectively combat COVID-19. We must take into account that, prior to this announcement, the Navy had suspended most, if not all, on-base indoor religious services. Any sailor seeking spiritual nourishment through off-base indoor religious services would be “subject to adverse administrative and/or disciplinary action.”
Chaplain Col. Ron Crews, U.S. Army (ret.), executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, responded, “We are stunned that the Navy would issue this unlawful order.” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of Military Services released a press statement on July 4: “Upon receiving this information I immediately contacted the Navy Chief of Chaplains’ Office. They have been unable to offer any relief from these provisions. My attempt to contact the Chief of Naval Operations has not even been acknowledged.” The Navy directive, as originally designed, stands. ….