updated 9/14/2006 4:07:46 PM ET 2006-09-14T20:07:46

A jury on Thursday recommended that a Navy chaplain receive a letter of reprimand for disobeying an order by appearing in uniform at a political news conference at the White House.

The jury also recommended that Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt forfeit $250 pay per month for a year but suggested that the monetary punishment be suspended.

Rear Adm. Frederic Ruehe, commander of the Navy's Mid-Atlantic Region, must decide whether to approve the recommendation.

The jury of five officers at Klingenschmitt's special court-martial determined Wednesday that he had disobeyed a superior officer's order prohibiting him from wearing his uniform during media appearances without prior permission.

The charge centered on a March 30 news conference protesting a Navy policy that requires nondenominational prayers outside of religious services.

Klingenschmitt had argued that he was allowed to wear his uniform if conducting a "bona fide worship service." He said he believes he was punished for making a political speech in uniform because he prayed in Jesus' name.

"Jesus was crucified, Peter and John were flogged and I got a minor reprimand," Klingenschmitt said in a telephone interview after court. "I have not yet become a martyr for the faith."

He said he would appeal the conviction and fight to remain a chaplain if the Navy tries to oust him. He said senior naval officials had already decided to fire him before the event.

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

Klingenschmitt had faced a maximum punishment of a reprimand and fines of $41,916, or two-thirds of his annual salary. He also could have been restricted to base for up to two months.

Military prosecutor Cmdr. Rex Guinn said the government had proved its case.

"Justice was done," Guinn told reporters.

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