IMAGE: Klingenschmitt
Manuel Balce Ceneta  /  AP
Navy Chaplain Lt. Gordon J. Klingenschmitt receives communion and breaks his two-week fast to protest restrictions on prayer at Navy events as he conducts a worship service in front of the White House on Jan. 7.
updated 9/13/2006 7:29:39 PM ET 2006-09-13T23:29:39

A military jury found a Navy chaplain guilty Wednesday of disobeying an order by appearing in uniform at a White House protest.

A jury of five officers deliberated for an hour and 20 minutes before deciding Lt. Gordon J. Klingenschmitt disobeyed a superior officer's order. A superior had told Klingenschmitt he could appear in uniform at media appearances only if conducting a "bona fide worship service."

The penalty phase began immediately after the verdict. Klingenschmitt could be docked two-thirds of his pay for a year and reprimanded.

Klingenschmitt contended that his appearance at a March 30 news conference, held at the White House to protest a Navy policy requiring nondenominational prayers outside of religious services, qualified as a worship service.

Cmdr. Rex A. Guinn, the prosecutor, told the jury during closing arguments of the special court-martial that the case was "about an experienced military officer receiving a clear order to not do something."

Guinn said it did not matter that Klingenschmitt did not make a speech at the news conference. He said Klingenschmitt violated the order by deliberately engaging the media when he showed up at the event without receiving prior permission and handed out fliers to reporters in which he likened his actions to the civil disobedience of Rosa Parks.

In December, the Evangelical Episcopal priest went on an 18-day hunger strike in front of the White House over the right to invoke Jesus' name outside such services.

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