After a concerned guardsman informed FFRF that ceremonies at the Pease Air National Guard Base regularly schedule chaplains to deliver Christian invocations at mandatory gatherings, FFRF urged the base to remove prayers from the ceremonies.
However, even after FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover noted that such practices are unconstitutional, the New Hampshire Air National Guard commander responded that religious promotion would continue.
"While base chaplains have the right to freely exercise their religion, they do not have a constitutional right to a government-sponsored microphone or to impose their religion on guardsmen attending a mandatory event," wrote Grover to Commanding Officer Colonel James Ryan. "Halting chaplain-led prayer at base events should offend no one. Guardsmen and military chaplains will remain free to practice their religion on their own time, in their own way."
Absurdly, 17 members of Congress signed an ill-informed letter penned by Rep. Doug Collins and Sen. James Lankford in support for the Air National Guard's constitutional violation.
Grover wrote to Collins condemning the congressional advocacy for government endorsement of Christianity. The decision to continue mandatory prayers contradicts the original purpose of military chaplains, Grover wrote, which is to accommodate the free exercise of religion by creating opportunities for service members to voluntarily participate in religious exercises.