In what has been described as “an astonishing attack on religious freedom,” Catholics at a Navy base were banned from attending worship services because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.
In response, the Thomas More Law Center announced it has filed a lawsuit over the orders at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia.
The legal team said a Catholic priest who serves the community on the military base “has been prohibited from even volunteering to celebrate Holy Mass without pay and was told that if he violated that order, he could be subject to arrest.”
Without explanation, however, Protestant services continued.
“This is an astonishing attack on religious freedom by the federal government and the latest affront toward the military since the beginning of the shutdown,” said a report by the Thomas More Law Center.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on behalf of Father Ray Leonard, a Catholic priest contracted to serve as base chaplain, and Fred Naylor, one of Leonard’s parishioners and a retired veteran with more than 22 years of service.
Leonard, a civilian serving on a contract basis, had served Tibetan populations in China for years.
“I was disallowed from performing public religious services due to the lack of religious freedom in China,” he said in an affidavit. “I never imagined that when I returned home to the United States, that I would be forbidden from practicing my religious beliefs as I am called to do and would be forbidden from helping and serving my faith community.”
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