Monifa Sterling Marine Bible Verse

Court Decision, Marine Supervisors, and the Bible Combine for Terrifying Trend

In Articles, Christian News, World by JD Rucker2 Comments

Update: Even trusted news sources can be misled, particularly when it pertains to having only one side of the story available. While the trend of secularism in the world and in many government offices including the military is rising, there can be challenges to the notion based upon the individual incident. If the comment below is accurate, then this is one of those cases where the surface story is opposite of the whole story. We will keep the story up for the same of pointing to a possible retelling from the comments.

The vast majority of the US military seems to still be serving properly and righteously, but every now and then something pops up that makes us terrified about our future. In the case of the religious persecution against Monifa Sterling, we pray that this is an isolated incident. Unfortunately, it seems to be a trend.

First and foremost, if Monifa Sterling needs a job, we would be very proud to talk to her about that, for the record.

Second, I’m going to be brief with the breakdown of the events because it fills me with anger that is not conducive to our stance. We want to love all people, but when a Marine supervisor betrays the Bible and when a military court finds this to be acceptable, we must pray for those who are being misled and for ourselves to maintain composure. It’s that terrifying and infuriating at the same time.

The short of it is this: Sterling had a Bible verse displayed by her work computer. Her supervisor was offended by it for whatever reason, trumped up charges against her, and the court system decided that this was acceptable behavior. The dangerous trend that is emerging both in the military and in the civilian side of American society is that religious rights are protected as long as they’re not Judeo-Christian rights.

Who took America away and replaced it with hypocritical idiocy and dysfunction?

I’m going to cut this article short. It’s just too maddening. Please read more about it on Fox News:

As it now stands – Sterling is unemployed and looking for work. It’s a process made harder because of the bad conduct discharge from the military. Hopefully Liberty Institute will be able to restore this Christian Marine’s good name and expunge the charge.

Comments

  1. Marine Discharged For Christian Messages? Nope. Try Again.

    Readers of this blog know that we are big proponents of speech and freedom of religion. We believe that these two rights are listed first inthe Bill of Rights for a reason as they are central to the existence of mankind in society and deserving of protection.

    With that in mind, allow us to introduce you to Monifa Sterling. Sterling has been in the news lately for allegedly being dismissed from the United States Marine Corps for posting Bible messages on her computer. Her story has gotten coverage from media outlets like Fox News, the Blaze, Christian Today, the Washington Times, the Washington Post, and even outlets across the pond.

    The headlines scream the outrage:

    Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse

    Marine Who Refused to Remove a Bible Reference Posted in Her Work Station Was Court-Martialed and Given a Bad-Conduct Discharge. Now, She’s Fighting Back.

    Hero marine discharged and prosecuted as criminal for putting BIBLE quote on her computer

    US Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse from her computer

    (We love the “Hero Marine Discharged…” headline for as far as we can tell, Sterling would not be considered a “hero” under normal definitions. A person who wins a Bronze or Silver Star is a hero. A Medal of Honor recipient is a hero.

    Sterling?

    Not so much.)

    If Sterling had been dismissed from the Marine Corps for a Bible verse, the tone of this post would be different. We too would be raising our voice to claim an injustice had occurred. While we think there has been a shift in the military against Christians and Christianity under the Obama administration, the Sterling case is not evidence of that shift.

    If anything, the Sterling case is a case of a person who did something wrong crying wolf and claiming they are a victim when they are not.

    Sterling was convicted in a general court martial …

    …of failing to go to her appointed place of duty, disrespect towards a superior commissioned officer, and four specifications of disobeying the lawful order of a noncommissioned officer (NCO), in violation of Articles 86, 89, and 91, Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. §§ 886, 889, and 891.

    For her actions and inactions, former Lance Corporal Sterling was reduced in rank to a private and given a bad conduct discharge (BCD.)

    Sterling was assigned to help Marines with their Common Access badges at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In that capacity, she shared a work space and computers with other Marines.

    Sterling’s relationship with her Commanding Officer, Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Alexander was at best, rocky. In May of 2013, in the midst of this contentious relationship, Sterling printed out three signs (a term that was used by both parties at her trial) in a 28 point size font (a little less than one half an inch) which read “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

    The signs were a derivative of Isaiah 54:17 which reads:

    No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
    And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
    You shall condemn.
    This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    And their righteousness is from Me,”
    Says the Lord. Isaiah 5417 NKJV

    Sterling put three signs up – one on the computer’s tower case, one on her monitor, and one on the in-box at the work station. Sterling would later claim at trial that she put three signs up to signify the Trinity. Although the signs were big enough to be seen from several feet away, Sterling claimed she put the signs up to encourage herself.

    When SSgt Alexander saw the signs, she took the “weapon” to be a reference against her and ordered Sterling to take them down. Sterling refused. After a heated exchange where Sterling was disrespectful to Alexander, Alexander took the signs down herself. The next day Sterling replaced the signs and after being ordered to take them down again, she refused. At the end of the day, Alexander again took the signs down again.

    There are two important points to be made here.

    First, an order given by a superior officer is always considered to be lawful until it is proven not to be. If Sterling wanted to challenge the order as not being legal, her course of action was to take the signs down and appeal to a higher authority up the command chain. Sterling did not do that.

    Secondly, and maybe more importantly, Sterling never raised the specter that the verses were a religious expression. That defense was not raised until trial. It is hard to make that case that Sterling was court martialed for expressing a religious belief when she herself never made that claim at the time of the incident(s). Sterling also did not raise an issue of religious accommodations for a recognized religious belief at the time of the incident. That too was a claim that was made later and only at trial.

    If this was the only incident, perhaps the idea there was a religious bias could be raised even absent Sterling speaking out at the time of the event. Alas, Sterling was not yet finished.

    In August of 2013, the appellant (ed’s note: Sterling) was on limited duty for a hip injury and wore a back brace and TENS unit during working hours.3 The medical documentation (chit) included a handwritten note stating that “[w]earing charlies & TENS unit4 will be difficult, consider allowing her to not wear charlies.”5 The uniform of the day on Fridays for the appellant’s command was the service “C” uniform and when the appellant arrived at work on a Friday in her camouflage utility uniform, SSgt Morris ordered her to change into service “C” uniform. The appellant refused, claiming her medical chit exempted her from the uniform requirement. After speaking with medical, SSgt Morris again ordered the appellant to change into the service “C” uniform. The appellant again refused. SSgt Morris then brought the appellant to First Sergeant (1stSgt) Robinson who repeated the order. Again, the appellant refused.

    On 12 September 2013, 1stSgt Robinson ordered the appellant to report to the Pass and Identification building at the front gate on Sunday, 15 September 2013, from 1600 until approximately 1930 to help distribute vehicle passes to family members of returning deployed service members. This was a duty the appellant had performed before. The appellant refused, showing 1stSgt Robinson a separate medical chit that she had been provided to treat a “stress reaction.” This chit recommended that the appellant be exempted from standing watch and performing guard duty.6 Additionally, on 03 September 2013, the appellant was prescribed a medication to help prevent the onset of migraine headaches.7

    On 13 Sept 2013, the appellant was ordered to report to Major (Maj) Flatley. When she did so, Maj Flatley ordered the appellant to report to Pass and Identification on 15 September 2103 to issue vehicle passes and ordered her to take the passes with her. The appellant told Maj Flatley that she would not comply with the order to report and refused to accept the passes. On 15 September 2013, the appellant did not report as ordered.

    On 13 Sept 2013, the appellant was ordered to report to Major (Maj) Flatley. When she did so, Maj Flatley ordered the appellant to report to Pass and Identification on 15 September 2103 to issue vehicle passes and ordered her to take the passes with her. The appellant told Maj Flatley that she would not comply with the order to report and refused to accept the passes. On 15 September 2013, the appellant did not report as ordered.

    In the August 2013 incident, Sterling told SSgt Morris that he should call the medical division to verify her claim she was not required to wear the uniform of the day – the service “C” or “Charlies.” SSgt Morris did just that and after speaking to the medical division was told that Sterling could wear the TENS unit with the uniform of the day. In the face of the medical division allowing her to work the post and SSgt Morris’s legal and direct order to report, Sterling still refused.

    The September incident is even more bizarre. Sterling was taking medication for “stress and migraines.” The side effects of the drug included dizziness, drowsiness, “alert issues,” and numbness in hands, feet, and tongue. For those reasons, the prescription required the drug to be taken at night. However, on the day in question, Sterling went against the prescription and took the drug in the morning before church. The court concluded that Sterling did not have the right to disobey a legal order to report to a post when it was her actions that caused the issue.

    In summary, Sterling refused to obey a legal order in refusing to remove the signs in the work area, disrespected an NCO, disobey the same order the next day, then refused a legal order to report to a post and then refused to obey another order to report to another post where a case can be made that she and she alone caused the issue.

    In deciding her appeal, the three member court wrote:

    …..the members heard of a contentious relationship between a junior Marine and her superiors. It is not clear why the relationship became contentious, but at a certain point, the appellant decided that her command was “picking on her” and began to refuse to follow orders. Her conspicuous disobedience to her SSgt, repeated refusals to wear the appropriate uniform, and flagrant disrespect of a commissioned officer were all exacerbated by her own presentencing testimony, where the appellant continued to blame her command for her actions and left the members with absolutely no indication of her willingness or potential for further service.

    This is not a case of a person being prosecuted or persecuted for her religious beliefs. This is a case where a person tried to be cute in labeling a superior officer as a “weapon formed against her,” getting into a fight with that same officer and then repeatedly refusing to follow legal orders.

    Far from being the victim, Sterling got what she wanted as at her trial, her lawyer made the following summary to the court:

    “As you go through and deliberate upon what punishment would be appropriate, I would just ask you . . . to make it quick. [LCpl] Sterling, as she has said, is recently married. And she has also said, she is not long for the Marine Corps one way or the other. And so whatever punishment you give her, I would ask that it be a punishment that quickly brings [LCpl] Sterling’s association with her command and the Marine Corps to an end. LCpl Sterling is no longer in a position that she can be an asset to her unit . . . [t]aking that into account, we would ask that whatever punishment you assign … quickly allow[s] both the Marine Corps … [and LCpl] Sterling, herself, to move on to a place where both sides can prosper.”

    The Marines granted her plea to leave and move on. A bad conduct discharge was the best way to accomplish that.

    Sterling wanted to leave the Marine Corps and that is fine. Leaving while acting like a petulant child is not the way to go. Perhaps she didn’t think through the long term consequences that a bad conduct discharge will encompass – no benefits and having to list that BCD on employment applications. Perhaps that is why she is raising the religious persecution angle at this time. Perhaps she now realizes the devastating repercussions the BCD will have on her future.

    With all that in mind, it is not up to conservatives or Christians to support her now other than to say “repent” and move on. There is no reason to think that this case is an example of religious persecution in the military.

    If anything, this is a case of a woman who started to believe that superior officers are “not the boss of me!” and acted in a manner that demonstrated that belief.

    Christians and conservatives can find better fights than this one to fight.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Mark, for bringing this to our attention. It’s a perfect example of how easily we can jump to conclusions when the other side of the story is not heard. When researching this piece, we looked for denials or comments from the military but there were none available to us. Now we get to see another side. Thank you.

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