Naval Academy denies humanist wedding in main chapel
By By Carrie Wells and The Baltimore Sun
Aug 01, 2013 at 5:34 PM
The U.S. Naval Academy turned down a recent graduate's request to hold a "humanist" wedding in the main campus chapel because it was not a Christian ceremony, a move the American Humanist Association is calling unconstitutional.
Ensign Sean A. Cruz, a 2012 Naval Academy graduate, applied to hold his wedding in the historic chapel next year. A humanist celebrant, similar to a Christian minister, was set to officiate. Humanism is defined by its followers as a secular worldview that encourages ethical practices and contributions toward the greater good.
Naval Academy officials released a statement saying they would continue to work with Cruz to find a "fitting and commensurate venue" for his wedding.
"The Naval Academy Chapel is a religious venue used for Protestant and Catholic services since its dedication in 1908," the statement said. "The chapel contains permanent Christian architectural features that make it inappropriate for non-Christian or non-religious wedding ceremonies."
Bill Burgess, an attorney for the Washington D.C.-based American Humanist Association, argues that the Naval Academy cannot restrict weddings on religious grounds because the chapel is publicly-owned.