DoD Rebuffs Mikey Weinstein Criticism on National Day of Prayer

As he has occasionally done before, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has complained about the upcoming National Day of Prayer to be held at the Capitol, equating the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is helping to organize the event, with al Qaeda.  Weinstein “respectfully demands” not only that any DoD participation be prohibited, but that the DoD

aggressively investigate and appropriately punish any of the individuals and/or organizations that would have allowed for uniformed personnel to participate in this sectarian spectacle

The Defense Department appears non-plussed:

Army officials on Friday said there were no plans to back out of the event. The Army still intends to send Continue reading

Army ROTC to Hold Lecture on Religion and the Military

The University of Arkansas Army Reserve Officer Training Corps is planning a lecture on April 24th specifically on the issue of religious freedom in the US military.

The lecture and discussion will provide a platform for students to learn more about religious freedoms in the military and discuss experiences with other veteran students. The event will give students and future service members the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the lecture topics and the speakers’ life experiences.

The speaker will be Continue reading

Congressmen Call Air Force Religion Rules Unconstitutional

Update: Congressman Lamborn’s potential political rivals reacted, with Republican Bentley Rayburn, a retired Major General and 1975 USAFA graduate, saying Lamborn hasn’t done enough to support religious freedom at USAFA, while Democrat Irv Halter, also a retired Major General and 1977 USAFA graduate, says Lamborn has gone too far.

A few weeks ago congressmen asked the Secretary of the Air Force to document and explain the Air Force religious policy and its application at the US Air Force Academy, following USAFA’s command decision to pull down a Bible verse on a cadet’s whiteboard. As noted then and in a subsequent congressional hearing, the Air Force has relied heavily on AFI 1-1, a Chief of Staff level AFI published in the final days of General Norton Schwartz’s tenure in 2012.

Now, Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado (home to the US Air Force Academy) has written a letter signed by 22 other congressmen asking Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James to revise the policy at issue:

The August 2012 Air Force regulations which govern religious freedom and expression (AFI 1-1) are inconsistent with Congressional intent and current law…

The first issue Lamborn cites is the “undefinable” standard the Air Force uses [emphasis added]:  Continue reading

Chuck Norris: Air Force “Airbrushes” Religious Liberty

Chuck Norris, a former Air Force Airman among other notable achievements, recently expressed disappointment at the Air Force’s decision to pull down a US Air Force Academy cadet’s Bible verse. He quotes and then agrees with retired General Jerry Boykin of the FRC, who noted

Once the academy allowed cadets to use these whiteboards for their personal use, censorship of religious commentary is unacceptable…

Norris then listed 10 examples of “prohibition of religious expression” in the military over the past few years, including USAFA’s Operation Christmas Child, Just War theory in ICBM training, the Camp Pendleton Cross, and the live Nativity in Bahrain.

He concluded the list with the perception that it gave him:  Continue reading

Remarks by President Obama at Easter Prayer Breakfast

In these Holy Days, we recall all that Jesus endured for us — the scorn of the crowds and the pain of the crucifixion, in our Christian religious tradition we celebrate the glory of the Resurrection — all so that we might be forgiven of our sins and granted everlasting life…

None of us are free from sin, but we look to His life and strive, knowing that “if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is perfected in us.

Read President Obama’s remarks here.

Air Force Reverses, Will Review Religious Freedom Policy (Video)

View the video from approximately 4:10.

How’d you like to be the cadet who posted Galatians 2:20?  You are personally responsible for influencing religious liberty policy in the US Air Force.  Nicely done.

A few weeks ago the US Air Force Academy made the news when a Bible verse was stripped from a USAFA cadet’s dry erase board. The incident led Congressmen to question the Air Force leadership about the incident when they appeared for a budget meeting. Secretary James and Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh were initially defensive, citing AFI 1-1 as the justification for the command action against the cadet, though they did agree to provide a written explanation for the action. General Welsh famously expressed his “single biggest frustration” over what he called the untrue “perception [of] religious persecution” in the Air Force.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Secretary James seemed to have tweaked the Air Force reaction.

In response Continue reading

US Army Supports Air Force Plan to Cut A-10

The Air Force defended its decision to cut the A-10 from its inventory in a meeting with lawmakers last week:

Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., suggested the Air Force has more work ahead to convince Congress that retiring the A-10 is a smart move.

“So for about $3.5 billion over the next five years, if [Congress] could find the money, could you afford to keep the A-10 on board?” Graham said.

Welsh said money wasn’t the only problem…

In an interesting twist, the US Army — which has traditionally been “accused” of wanting the A-10 and criticizing the Air Force for wanting to get rid of it — actually seems to be supportive of the decision:  Continue reading

Air Force Leaders on Core Values

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh, and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody recently took to YouTube to explain the Air Force core values “matter.”

The video is interesting, but even more interesting is the way the official Air Force Facebook page intro’d the video [emphasis added]:

When you voluntarily raised your right hand and took the oath of enlistment to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against enemies foreign and domestic — you purposely gave up a piece of yourself. You were remolded and given a new set of core values, which are integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.

That statement seems to presuppose that men and women enter the Air Force without values of integrity, service, or excellence. While that is absolutely Continue reading

USAFA, Whiteboards, and Bible Verses, Part 2

The US Air Force Academy apparently determined it was “inappropriate” for a cadet to write a Bible verse on the dry erase board outside his room door (because his roommate was a “leader”).

No worries.  USAFA still has a Bible verse in a far more public place:  The center of its campus, at the bottom or a 9-foot tall statue of Robbie Risner:

Who will go?  Send me!  – Isaiah 6:8

Pres. Obama told Generals to Support DADT Repeal or Resign

Buzzfeed obtained a video of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp speaking to US Coast Guard Academy cadets on January 8th. In it, he recounts a meeting with President Obama in 2010, in which the President told the “5 service chiefs” to support his plan for repeal of the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — or get out:

Papp revealed that Obama was unwilling to compromise with service leaders over DADT during a meeting in 2010. “We were called into the Oval Office and President Obama looked all five service chiefs in the eye and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I cannot divulge everything he said to us, that’s private communications within the Oval Office, but if we didn’t agree with it — if any of us didn’t agree with it — we all had the opportunity to resign our commissions and go do other things,” he said.

The context of the answer was a question from cadets about  Continue reading

The Bible and the POW/MIA Table, Part II

“Eat everything they give you, no matter how disgusting; it’ll keep you alive. You’ve just been tortured, and that’s not the end of it; resist to the limits of your sanity, or to permanent physical damage. You’ll know when you get there.” And he concluded: “And pray; if you haven’t been, start. We’re going to get through this, and I’ll see you when it’s over.”

General Robbie Risner, prisoner of war and the Senior Ranking Officer in the Hanoi Hilton, to newly arrived POW Gen Charles G. Boyd, 1963.

Kind of makes you wonder what those POWs would think of the Air Force removing a Bible from their POW/MIA table.

General Risner died late last year.

Multiple Religious Freedom Groups Call Military Policy Insufficient

A strikingly broad-swath of religious liberty groups has written a letter (PDF) the office of the Secretary of Defense contending the military’s recent religious accommodation policy “change” doesn’t go far enough. In one point they make:

Even if an original accommodation request is approved, religiously observant service members would be required to submit a new request for the same accommodation every time they receive a new assignment…

In other words, a Soldier allowed to have a beard for religious reasons would have to re-apply with every assignment change for a continuing accommodation — and could conceivably have to shave in the interim.

The letter was signed by groups as diverse as the ACLU, ADL, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Becket Fund, Chaplain Alliance for Continue reading

Fort Hood Says Chaplain Shielded, Protected Soldiers

In the days following the last Fort Hood shooting, several stories emerged about those who were there. Once again, a “female officer” confronted the gunman and ended the spree. As with many shootings, the assailant stopped when confronted with equally deadly force — renewing calls for the military to lift the “gun free zone” status of military bases.

Another story was buried in just a short paragraph of a local CBS report, though the station elected to cite it in the headline, “Fort Hood Chaplain Saves Soldiers By Shielding Them With Own Body, Breaking Windows To Allow Them To Flee.” Quoting LtGen Continue reading

Mustache March: Tradition, Camaraderie, and IG Complaints

Update: General Welsh announced the Mustache March winners.  Retired Naval officer Sara Zak published her own commentary in the Air Force Times, calling it all a “setback for AF’s strong women.”  US Air Force Major Deirdre Gurry begged to differ in her Air Force Times column, saying she’s “proud to say that since World War II women have been invited to join” the military “boys’ club.”

Besides the Air Force Times letter written by the disgruntled female officer, it seems the attempt at a little fun by Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh generated some grief as well — including a concerted effort to get him fired:

Retired Navy Commander Sara Zak [sent] a complaint to the Air Force inspector general’s office, she asked that Welsh step down and rescind the challenge, saying the activity was “contrary to his Chief of Staff of the Air Force message to airmen he issued in January, [that] it perpetuated an environment conducive to sexual harassment, and that the Air Force should acknowledge [that] traditions that denigrate or fail to show proper respect to all airmen will not be accepted as part of the Air Force culture.”

Zak — whose retired Navy status makes her interest unclear — was pretty much told to pound sand, so she tried every other avenue she could think of:  Continue reading