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 Continue reading

More than 500,000 Biblesticks Provided to US Troops

An article at CrossMap notes that Faith Comes By Hearing, an audio Bible ministry, announced they have now provided more than 500,000 mp3 Bibles to US troops:

Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) began their Military BibleStick program in 2008…More than 500,000 of these small, digital Audio Bibles have been provided free of charge to America’s brave men and women in uniform. The ministry distributes the devices through active duty chaplains and chaplain assistants. To date, over 1,500 chaplains have requested BibleSticks and participated in the outreach.

As a point of reference, in 2010 the number was 100,000.

Also at OneNewsNow.

Mikey Weinstein Demands Removal from AFA Bigotry Map

The American Family Association recently made waves when it published an interactive “bigotry map” designed to “expos[e] anti-Christian bigotry in America.”

Highlighted in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is none other than Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

MRFF on AFA Bigotry Map

While the atheist Center for Inquiry “demand[ed]” to be added to the AFA’s map, Weinstein’s reaction was not so jovial: He had his lawyers fire off a letter demanding to be removed. In an unusually whiney-sounding missive, Continue reading

US Veterans Join Christian Militias in Fight against ISIS

While there has been plenty of coverage on foreigners leaving their home countries to join ISIS, somewhat less talked about has been those who have traveled to the region to join the fight against ISIS — some for religious reasons, some for reasons of simple justice, and some probably for their own reasons:

Saint Michael, the archangel of battle, is tattooed across the back of a U.S. army veteran who recently returned to Iraq and joined a Christian militia fighting Islamic State in what he sees as a biblical war between good and evil.

Brett, 28, carries the same thumb-worn pocket Bible he did whilst deployed to Iraq in 2006 – a picture of the Virgin Mary tucked inside its pages and his favourite verses highlighted.

“It’s very different,” he said, asked how the experiences compared. “Here I’m fighting for a people and for a faith, and the enemy is much bigger and more brutal.”

Further:

Matthew VanDyke says he is “stepping in where the international community failed.”

In a post on Twitter Thursday, the American said he has spent the last two months “helping to raise a Christian army” in Iraq to fight the Islamic State group.

“The international community does very little for Christians in the Middle East, so if they’re not going to do it, we’ll do it.”

FoxNews even led with a headline of “Onward Christian Soldiers” for a time.

The situation is probably Continue reading

Chaplains Continue Support in Afghanistan

Kabul Chapel

Even as the war in Afghanistan “ended” last December and US forces have drawn down, US military chaplains continue to serve the needs of US troops on the frontlines:

A Religious Support Team comprised of Airmen assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Chaplain Corps made the pilgrimage to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and Forward Operating Base Oqab to provide spiritual care and religious accommodation to Airmen deployed in austere conditions…

The chaplains (and their armed assistants) are doing an admirable job of providing face-to-face service to all troops in Afghanistan, even as it remains difficult to do so.

Report: Air Force Actively Recruiting LGBT-Friendly Chaplains

Stephen Boyd, the ecclesiastical endorser for the United Church of Christ (UCC), recently revealed that the US Air Force is actively seeking chaplains that are more friendly to homosexuals. Referring to Chaplain Robert Ward, an Air Force chaplain recruiter, Boyd said:

Chaplain Ward shared that the Air Force has come to realize that the Air Force Chaplain Corps cannot minister to all the men and women who wear the uniform. In the post-Don’t Ask Don’t Tell world and in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, chaplains who can openly serve the LGB community are scarce…

The Air Force has decided to intentionally recruit men and women from more progressive denominations to serve in the Air Force Chaplain Corps.

To that end, Boyd — who also supports the idea of atheist chaplains — said Ward had sent messages seeking recruiting opportunities to only 12 (of the “more than 200″) military chaplain endorsers: Those 12 had the correct “ecumenical/pluralistic spirit” and Continue reading

Book Review: One of the Few

Jason Ladd
Ladd Publications

The title and cover imagery of One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview recall the iconic slogan of the US Marine Corps: The Few. The Proud. But the book is about far more than the US Marines. One of the Few is also about “one of the few” Christians and fighter pilots in today’s society.

One of the Few is not a traditional book about fighter pilots. The three-part book does chronicle US Marine Jason Ladd’s journey to become a fighter pilot, and his flying as a fighter pilot in combat. More central to the book, however, is the story of Ladd’s journey to becoming a Christ-follower, a journey that only starts with Ladd’s tortured admission he was living as an atheist for many years.

Ladd comes to that realization through Continue reading

Military Christians as the New DADT

In response to recent attacks on religious freedom, an article by Chuck Holton questions whether Christians in the US military have become the new class of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” worried the chaplains who follow the biblical view of same-sex relationships. Congress then stepped in, passing a bill that guaranteed the rights of all military personnel to exercise their faith.

Ron Crews, head of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said the result of that legislation is that “chaplains can be chaplains.”

Unfortunately, there continue to be attacks on Christians who want to exercise or express their faith as they serve in the US military. (The article cites the story of Chaplain Lawhorn, for example.) While these attacks have generally come from outside the service — from critics like Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, for example, who attacks even Christian church services — the US military has sometimes reacted to these attacks as if the critics were correct from the outset, even if they were ultimately proven wrong.  The perception of this propensity is unprecedented on any other issue over which the military is critiqued.

The result has been Continue reading

Air Force Pulls B-52 from Boneyard

B-52 Flies out of AMARGIn a relatively rare occurrence for the big bomber, the US Air Force un-mothballed a 50-year-old B-52 from the storage base in Tucson, AZ, and flew it to Barksdale AFB:

The 53-year-old Stratofortress, tail number 61-1007, nicknamed the “Ghost Rider” had been in storage at the desert in the care of [AMARG] since 2008…Ghost Rider, after upgrades, will become the first B-52 to return to duty from the Boneyard.

The plane was reportedly revived to replace Continue reading

F-16 Crash Blamed on Pilot Error

F-16 Missing Wing

Last October’s midair collision between two Oklahoma Air National Guard F-16s was blamed on pilot error:

The pilots…were flying in formation, conducting tricky combat maneuvers, with a third F-16 role playing as an attacking enemy. The two pilots lost sight of each other before their right wings collided 16 seconds later in clear skies.

The instructor lost control and ejected; the student returned Continue reading

SecDef Makes Ambiguous Statement on Transgender Service

Newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter held a townhall type “troop event” in Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. During the question and answer session, transcribed on the DoD website, a US Navy Lieutenant Commander asked Secretary Carter about his

…thoughts on transgender service members serving in an austere environment like this in Kandahar?

Given the pressing world events the Secretary of Defense for the United States could address, it was a somewhat surprising question.  Secretary Carter gave what could best be described as an “ambiguous” answer, first saying he hasn’t looked at it much, then saying he’s “open-minded,” but also returning to the standard of “suitability for service:”  Continue reading

Archbishop Broglio on Chaplains, Military Religious Freedom

Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, speaking at the 90th anniversary installation and awards luncheon of the Joint Veterans’ Council of Cuyahoga County (JVCOCC), Ohio.

The role of chaplains in preserving our constitutionally protected freedom of religion was addressed by the Rev. Timothy Broglio, archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA…

In speaking about chaplains, Broglio noted that they “can assure that someone in the military is not forced to renounce his First Amendment rights while he or she puts his or her life on the line to defend those rights for the rest of us.”

Broglio said he wanted to join the JVCOCC in saluting all chaplains, “to thank them for making religious liberty not a slogan, but a reality in the armed forces.”

Wise words. Read more about the event.

Chris Rodda Caught in Lie over Military Religious Freedom

For a person who practically makes a living calling people “liars,” you’d think Chris Rodda would be more careful not to put herself in the position of being perceived as untruthful.  But that’s precisely where she found herself just last week.

In a lackluster article that explained the MRFF’s objection to the “odious” missionary trip of US Air Force SMSgt Larry Gallo (discussed previously), Rodda goes after FoxNews’ Todd Starnes for his statement that George Washington would have been “thrown in the brig” for praying at Valley Forge, were he to do so today. The MRFF wouldn’t have objected to Washington’s prayer, Rodda exclaimed,

just as [the] MRFF would never object to any member of today’s military…privately engaging in any religious activity.

While “never object[ing]” is a bit less enthusiastic than “supporting” or “defending,” it is at least a non-confrontational position that acknowledges the rights of military members.

The problem is, Chris Rodda’s statement isn’t true.

One of the more Continue reading

Congressmen Seek Army Review over Chaplain’s Punishment

Twenty four members of Congress wrote a letter (PDF) to Secretary of the Army John McHugh questioning the circumstances surrounding the Letter of Concern given to Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn.

While the Army has maintained that Chaplain Lawhorn wasn’t “punished” (and therefore there is apparently nothing to discuss), the Congressmen communicated their concerns that even the “administrative action” was chilling to rights protected under the law and Constitution:

We believe this administrative action sets a dangerous precedent for Army suicide prevention initiatives, the role of Army chaplains, and most importantly, the ability for service members to exercise and express religious beliefs, as protected under the First Amendment and reinforced by current law and DoD regulations.

The letter also raises concerns that the action Continue reading