Each year since 1993 the President has declared January 16th to be “Religious Freedom Day,” in order to remember the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. President Trump has not yet released his proclamation.
Update: From President Trump’s proclamation [emphasis added]:
Our Constitution and laws guarantee Americans the right not just to believe as they see fit, but to freely exercise their religion. Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification. These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy…No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law.
Jefferson’s statute continues to be a strong expression for the value of religious liberty even today. Though the statute has been discussed in many places and in great depth, there are two important points to take from the statute. First, Read more
The Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial in Rockdale County, Georgia, was vandalized in December. A plaque, two statues, and the globe they held, all made from bronze, were ripped from the site. Three people have been arrested.
At this point, there’s no immediate indication the vandalism was connected to the nationwide purge of “racially offensive” monuments. One source estimated the cost of repairs at more than $200,000.
Another question, however, is whether the monument, repaired or not, will survive the newfound fury of atheists.
Atheist Jason Torpy and others like him have been on a crusade Read more
Kori Schake is a fellow at Stanford University and co-edited a book with now-Secretary of Defense James Mattis. (She also called then-candidate Donald Trump a “unique risk to US national security“.) In an article about the politicization of the deaths of US troops, she notes the US military is increasingly seen as a means to a sociopolitical end:
Research…points to a growing belief the military is fair game to mine for partisan talking points because of its place as America’s most trusted institution.
That’s something the homosexual movement discovered a few years ago, as they claimed an American service member who was willing to serve and potentially sacrifice his life for his country should, in return, have his preferred sexual lifestyle permitted, validated, and even honored. The homosexual Read more
Hemant Mehta, an atheist blogger at the pay-per-click Patheos, celebrated a “gotcha” against one-time Senatorial candidate Roy Moore when Mehta decided how to describe the faith of their lawyer.
The “issue” started when Kayla Moore, Roy Moore’s wife, reacted to claims they were anti-Semitic by noting “one of our attorneys is a Jew.”
Truth be told, the “I have friends who are…” defense is always awkward — but it is also common. (Even Michael “Mikey” Weinstein uses it in defending against claims he’s anti-Christian.) But not yet satisfied, critics began an in-depth investigation to figure out who this mystery Jew was — because, well, who knows?
Finally, Kayla Moore simply told them: Read more
Col Daniel Murray was fired from his job as the 62nd Medical Squadron Commander at Joint Base Lewis McChord last September. As usual, the Air Force had said he was terminated for the non-descript and meaningless “loss of confidence in his ability to lead and command.”
Never to be denied a story that might sell newspapers, the Air Force Times filed a FOIA request for the details [emphasis added]:
Before he was removed from command…Col. Daniel Murray’s leadership was marked by concerns about his fairness, rock-bottom morale in the squadron, and his tendency to discuss religion in ways that made his airmen feel uncomfortable.
The report seems to indicate there wasn’t one individual thing that led to his removal, but rather a combination of complaints (official and unofficial gripes) that inspired the Air Force to fire him. It might be a rare instance of the vague “loss of confidence” actually being an apt excuse.
As the Air Force Times cleverly included in their headline, however, there Read more
A local story repeated at the Stars and Stripes covers Willard Keith Staneart, who served as an Army chaplain during Vietnam. Faced with the potential of an overwhelming attack by the Viet Cong, Staneart spoke with his battalion commander:
“He said, ‘Chaplain, every one of these young men are like my own sons. Their parents and their spouses are dependent on my getting them home safely,'” Staneart said. “He says, ‘I’ve failed. They’re all going to die tonight.'”
The commander asked Staneart to go around, pray with and counsel the men.
“I took a Bible, went Read more
Some astute writing from Stephanie Barclay of the Becket Fund, as published at The Witherspoon Institute [emphasis added]:
The Supreme Court has consistently held that a government’s desire to protect people from emotional harm…does not constitute a compelling government interest…The Court has protected speech deeply hurtful to the dignity of others, including protesters at the funeral of a Marine killed in action with signs that say things like “God Hates Fags”…
The Court has correctly explained that any other result would “effectively empower a majority to silence dissidents simply as a matter of personal predilections.”…
These are not simply hypothetical thought experiments. After Read more
The Times of Israel recently covered the retirement (last April) of US Navy Chaplain (CAPT) Jon Cutler — who was notable, apparently, because he was both Jewish and homosexual.
The article is rich in unintended irony, including celebrating the free exercise of the Jewish faith by US service members in the Middle East — in an era when some are advocating the free exercise of Christian troops be restricted, even within the borders of the United States.
Further, the theme of integrity returns to the issue of homosexuality in the military: With regard to serving as a homosexual before the repeal of DADT: Read more