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News Brief

May 5, 2006
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Republicans approved an amendment to a military bill that would allow chaplains to pray “according to their own conscience,” but rejected a change calling for “sensitivity” to other faiths. “Each chaplain shall have the prerogative to pray according to the dictates of the chaplain’s own conscience, except as must be limited by military necessity, with any such limitation being imposed in the least restrictive manner feasible,” said the amendment passed Wednesday night by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee. The amendment addresses evangelical Christian anger at the military for preventing pastors from including references to Jesus in communal prayers or in ministrations to non-Christians. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) attempted to modify the amendment by adding a clause calling for chaplains to “demonstrate sensitivity, respect and tolerance for all faiths present on each occasion at which prayers are offered.” His proposal failed, with all but one Republican, Candice Miller of Michigan, voting against. Israel, who is Jewish, told JTA that the vote “undermines the values of pluralism.” The amended bill now goes to the full House.

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