Fort Riley soldiers gunning for Jesus

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By PETER RUGG

For the second time this year, a soldier stationed at Fort Riley has filed a federal suit over the military’s religious practices.

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Today, Spc. Dustin Chalker filed the suit today, in conjunction with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. According to the suit, he was forced to attend three events in the past two years that featured prayers by the battalion chaplain. Chalker claims he was denied exemption from these events, stating that he was not religious. The suit names Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as defendant.

Before being stationed at Fort Riley, Chalker was deployed in Iraq. He has served in the military for six years, according to the MRFF.

This past spring, The Pitch published a story about Army Spc. Jeremy Hall, who filed a suit in September 2007 alleging that his superiors violated his First Amendment right to be free from government endorsement of religion. Like Chalker's complaint, Hall’s suit also named Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The MRFF is a co-plaintiff in both suits. The MRFF is a nonprofit that says it’s dedicated to protecting military personnel from unconstitutional religious practices. Hall’s suit is pending. Both suits are being handled by Lawrence lawyer Bob Eye.

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