An interesting, if not always positive, set of Newsweek articles chronicles “God and War:”
According to local news reports, the debate between Weinstein and Sekulow at the Air Force Academy was “cordial.” Presumably, both sides are working on their after-action reports, as none have yet been published. According to the Fox report, Weinstein had demanded to speak at the Academy and the debate was the format the Academy agreed upon. The only content yet known about the debate includes Weinstein’s assertion that Jewish servicemen not be allowed to wear a yarmulke, while Sekulow maintained they should.* Weinstein also made known his intentions to file another lawsuit against the Air Force, this one including plaintiffs that have standing. The debate can be heard here.
*Neither Weinstein nor Sekulow were entirely correct about the yarmulke. While Rabbi Goldman did lose his lawsuit in 1986 in which he sued to wear the yarmulke, the 1988 (updated in 2003) version of Department of Defense Instruction 1300.17 specifically allows the wearing of a yarmulke. There are still “exceptions,” but the Jewish headgear is the only religious apparel specifically mentioned.
Multiple press releases announced the settlement of the lawsuit against the Veterans’ Administration that sought to add the pentacle to the list of “approved” symbols of faith. Under the terms of the settlement, the VA will add the symbol to the list. The VA must also replace headstones previously provided to Wiccans with no marker. Ironically, the AU has claimed ‘victory,’ though this agreement did not meet the AU’s previous request that the “unconstitutional” list of emblems be abandoned.
According to his website, Mr. Weinstein is scheduled to debate Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the ACLJ, at the Air Force Academy on 24 April. The Academy website says that the debate is to answer the question, “What is the appropriate balance between religious freedom and official neutrality in the military?” Sekulow’s announcement is here.
President Bush announces the annual National Day of Prayer here. The day will be celebrated on May 3rd this year. An interesting history of the tradition is contained in former President George H. W. Bush’s 1989 proclamation:
Since the approval of the joint resolution of the Congress on April 17, 1952, calling for the designation of a specific day to be set aside each year as a National Day of Prayer, recognition of such a day has become a cherished annual event. Each President since then has proclaimed a National Day of Prayer annually under the authority of that resolution, continuing a tradition that actually dates back to the Continental Congress, which issued the first official proclamation for a National Day of Prayer on July 12, 1775. By Public Law 100-307, the first Thursday in May of each year has been set aside as a National Day of Prayer.
See President Bush’s Easter message here.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State posted a scathing article on former Navy Chaplain Klingenschmitt. They included quotes from a letter written by his former commander asserting Klingenschmitt’s “dishonesty.” The AU hailed the former chaplain as a vaunted martyr of the religious right. More interesting, in the public comments on the article, both Klingenschmitt and his former commander have faced off with scathing rebuttals.