Soldier Mentions God. Mikey Weinstein Complains. Film at 11.
Update: Nearly a month later, Mikey Weinstein complained that the disclaimer discussed below was “lipstick on a pig.” Weinstein appeared offended that he hadn’t been consulted and that his demand that Col Hundley be “publicly punish[ed]” was ignored.
The latest US service member to publicly mention his faith and get castigated by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein is US Army Col Thomas Hundley. In a 400-word post at the US military’s official Health.mil, Col Hundley provided one of his regular “Motivational Monday Messages” and recounted his grandfather’s admonition “You just gotta give God a little something to work with.”
He finished with
I challenge you to join the Operation Live Well team on the journey to attain a “new you” in 2016. All we have to do is give God and ourselves a little something to work with. Happy New Year!
and included a list of “improvements” for 2016, among which was
1. Improve your spiritual fitness through increased prayer.
Cited by Military.com’s Bryant Jordan, Weinstein said he complained because
Hundley’s use of an official blog to plug his religious views is proselytizing and unconstitutional…
“Col. Hundley has absolutely no business or authority under American law to be conflating his Army officer rank, title and position with his professed evangelical Christian faith.”
In response to his complaint, Army Regional Health Command’s IG told Weinstein his report would be “handled by another agency” it did not identify.
Contrary to Weinstein’s flowery language, Col Hundley did not “plug” his religion, nor did he attempt to convert anyone. Weinstein’s accusation Col Hundley was “conflating” his position with his faith indicates Weinstein needs to look up the definition of that word, as Col Hundley clearly did no such thing.
In fact, the “spiritual fitness” reference is entirely consistent with the US Army’s own program of Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness.
Col Hundley’s article is entirely permissible, and Weinstein’s call for it to be treated otherwise because of religion would demand the Army unlawfully discriminate.
But everyone knows Weinstein is sensational and artful for pull-quotes to be used in the press. The heart of the matter is what other Army Soldiers reportedly said [emphasis added]:
Mikey Weinstein…said he filed a complaint…after hearing from service members critical of Hundley’s inclusion of religion in an official website…
Weinstein said he is now representing 18 clients who are opposed to the religious slant to Hundley’s writings.
Those complaints don’t indicate concerns over coercion or conversion — the criticism is over the mere presence of religion in the article. Just like the pseudo-fabricated outrage at the USAFA football team, the complaint is only because a member of the US military is doing or saying something that has religious content.
It is certainly a possibility that, like the USAFA cadet previously cited, these Soldiers are offended by the “inclusion of religion” in Col Hundley’s article.
It is certainly a possibility that, like the USAFA cadet, these Soldiers need to learn that the US military values diversity, and with diversity comes exposure to different views — and the right to have and express those views is protected by both US military regulations and the law.
While Christianity is hardly the only belief mentioned in an official military story, thanks to Mikey Weinstein Christianity has been the only one attacked and the only one “disclaimed” by the US military.
To that point, in response to the Weinstein complaint, the Army added a disclaimer to Col Hundley’s article saying
Individual contributor articles are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Defense Health Agency, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, or the Defense Department.
It would be nice if the Army would affirmatively dismiss Weinstein’s machinations, but its nice to know at least they’re not kowtowing to him. You can read more of Col Hundley’s commentaries — of which there are many — at the bottom of this page on Operation Live Well.
For his part, Weinstein took a personal dig at Col Hundley, saying
Col. Thomas Hundley can’t figure out whether he’s an active duty senior Army officer or an evangelical Christian missionary…
Weinstein presents a false dichotomy, since every Christian is a missionary.
Probably realizing the irony, in the biographical lead-in journalist Bryant Jordan said Weinstein “advocates for religious freedom in the armed forces.”
About that dictionary…