US Army General Hosts Islamic Iftar

US Army BGen Miguel Castellanos, the CJTF-HOA deputy commanding general, recently hosted an Islamic iftar to celebrate the breaking of the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The event began with US Navy Chaplain (Cmdr) Abuhena Saifulislam leading some foreign troops in Islamic prayers. (Saifulislam had recently performed the same ritual for the State Department in Djibouti.)

BGen Castellanos made an interesting statement near the article’s conclusion [emphasis added]:

“In the U.S., there are many traditions and observances that mean a lot to us,” said Castellanos to his Somali guests. “It is also our military tradition to celebrate and observe all faiths with those who serve with us so I am very thankful for the opportunity to share in this tradition with you.”

BGen Castellanos’ statement briefs well, but is that really “our military tradition”? When was the last time you saw the US military “celebrate and observe” any specific faith or religious event? Quite the opposite seems to be true. Even something as benign as announcing a “Christmas” party instead of a “holiday” party will generate complaints from those with sensitive dispositions.  It hardly seems the US military would have the moral courage to “celebrate and observe” religious faiths.

It seems, rather, that the US military does generally allow its troops to celebrate their faiths, but as an institution it generally “celebrates and observes” no religious events (with the exception of the occasional Islamic one like this, ironically enough).