Report: Hostility to Religion in US Military
The Liberty Institute recently published a 2014 edition of a 400-page report entitled “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America” (PDF). Sections I, II, and III are “attacks” in the public arena, schoolhouse, and against churches and other religious ministries, respectively.
For the first time, the report now includes a dedicated Section IV: “Attacks in the Military.”
Similar in theme to the “Clear and Present Danger” published by the Family Research Council, the Liberty Institute report includes a list of 46 incidents representative of the hostility toward religion within the US military [emphasis added]:
Hostility once unthinkable, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs telling grieving families as they arrive at their loved one’s funeral site that they may not have a religious funeral service, is becoming increasingly routine. Another line of hostility is a new wave of lawsuits attempting to eliminate all symbolism that touches on the numinous from our nation’s veterans memorials…
Religious freedom in the military is protected by the U.S. Constitution, Department of Defense regulations, service branch regulations, and case law. Nevertheless, recent attacks on our servicemembers’ religious freedom ignore this law and tradition.
Among others, the Liberty list cites the incidents surrounding Mount Soledad, Father Ray Leonard, Christians as “hate groups,” SMSgt Phillip Monk, the FFRF’s annual attacks on the US Navy’s shipboard nightly prayers, and Jason Torpy’s effort to remove “Deo” from the RCO logo.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation made a strong showing, accounting for about a quarter of all incidents cited in the report, including:
- the failed MRFF lawsuit Mullin v Gould (regarding Clebe McClary)
- criticism of Pentagon participation in the National Day of Prayer
- the famous USAFA whiteboard incident
- Nativity scenes on US bases
- USAFA’s Allen Willoughby
- USAFA’s Mike Rosebush
- “So Help me God” in the USAFA honor oath
- the censorship of Chaplain Kenneth Reyes
- Indiana’s General Marty Umbarger
In a less well-known example, the report also notes a paper by former USAFA instructor and retired US AF LtCol Jim Parco criticizing the freedom of religion within the military. Parco was also an ally of Weinstein’s MRFF.
Despite the fact that most of those incidents involve Christians, the report also cites the plight of Sikhs, who are currently unable to serve in the military without abandoning the articles of their faith, as well as a Jewish chaplain candidate who did not (initially) receive a beard waiver.
Military religious freedom is certainly getting more attention from groups that support it — as opposed to previous years, when there were more public advocates like Mikey Weinstein opposing it.
It remains to be seen whether lists of “hostility to religion” in the US military will get shorter — or longer — in the coming years.
Via the Acton Institute.