An interesting article on CNN.com that comments on US soldiers and their faiths during December–when three faiths have significant religious events: U.S. troops turn to faith amid realities of war.
As noted in a prior post, Michael Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation intend to expand their recent lawsuit against the military, intending to impact religion in the military as a whole. The MRFF’s lawsuit against the Air Force Academy was thrown out in 2006. Like the Academy suit, the recent lawsuit is based on an individual event, but Weinstein intends to similarly use it to (in his words) Read more…
The Christian Post notes that Christians across the country will unite in 2 days of prayer for American servicemen this weekend, as part of the larger “Pray for America,” which “recognizes the need to pray for the U.S. military and America:”
Pray for our soldiers and sailors now serving throughout the world and for the recovery of those wounded in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pray for an awareness of Christ in the lives of our military.
Pray for our military families dealing with the separation of their loved ones and for those whose loved ones have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The President’s annual Christmas message can be viewed on the White House site.
During the Christmas season, our thoughts turn to the source of joy and hope born in a humble manger on a holy night more than 2,000 years ago. Each year, Christians everywhere celebrate this single life that changed the world and continues to change hearts today.
We also remember our brave men and women in uniform who have volunteered to defend us in distant lands. Many of those who have answered the call of duty will spend Christmas far from home and separated from family. We honor their sacrifice, ask God to watch over them and their families, and pray for their safe return.
As the President demonstrates, it is not improper for an official in a position of authority to acknowledge the unique tenets of a religious faith observance. For those who are curious, the President also issued messages earlier on Hanukkah, Eid al-Adha, and even the non-religious Kwanzaa. It is worth noting that each message was announced separately to honor the individual event on the occasion of its occurrence. The President respected each celebration individually, and did not issue a combined ”holiday” message that would have diminished the significance of the special occasions.
Make the most of this time with your loved ones – Meeting the needs of today’s Air Force means many of us have to spend time away from our friends and family. It’s their support that helps us perform our vital Air Force mission, and for this very reason, we must make the most of the time we have with them. Set aside time for your spouse, children, significant others and yourself.
Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation is again focused on Campus Crusade for Christ. CCC is the parent organization of Christian Embassy, which was the impetus for an Inspector General investigation earlier this year that found officers unlawfully supported the organization.
Weinstein’s latest accusations–which he contends will be integrated into his ongoing lawsuit against an Army Major and the Secretary of Defense–revolve around the concept of “government-paid missionaries,” a term sometimes used in reference to Campus Crusade military members. Read more…
(Updated 31 Dec 07)
As government officers and followers of Christ, military Christians have a uniquely personal interaction with the sometimes controversial relationship between church and state. Even something as simple as saying “Merry Christmas” (see earlier post) can require consideration unthinkable in the civilian world. For each situation, Christians should stand by their beliefs; however, they need not do so polemically. For an interesting case study, consider some of the recent controversies (and responses) over Christmas displays:
Towns across the country have chosen to place nativity scenes, Christmas trees, and Menorahs on government property. When lawsuits and other attempts to remove them have failed, opposing groups have “joined” what they could not “beat”–they’ve put up their own displays. Read more…
As noted at FoxNews and other news sources, some people are upset that a resolution acknowledging Christmas was opposed by 9 members of the House, while resolutions honoring other religions were passed unanimously. HR 847 (Christmas, Yes: 372/No: 9/Present/No Vote: 50) was identical in many respects to HR 635 (Ramadan, Y:376/N:0/P:56).
One lawmaker’s staff said she had
previously has opposed similar bills on Christianity because she “has concerns about separation of church and state.”
Apparently, those concerns apply only to Christianity, as the Representative voted “yes” on resolutions regarding Islam and Indian religious observations.
Many blogs and pundits have also skewered the Congress for wasting time, foisting Christianity on Americans, and entangling the government with religion, while those same people said nothing regarding the previous resolutions on other religions.
Some people, including the bill’s sponsor, Representative Steve King (R-Iowa), believe this is further proof of an undue hostility in America not toward religion, but toward Christianity. Whether true or not, the furor surrounding the resolution is indicative of the cultural sensitivity of Christianity in the public square, something military Christians would do well to remember.
(King acknowledged that he essentially proposed the resolution to make a point. Previously, he voted “present” on the other religious resolutions.)
The Christian Science Monitor did an interesting series on the impact and importance of Chaplains in the US military, as written by an embedded reporter in Afghanistan.
Merry Christmas…can we say that?
Both religious and secular news sources have repeatedly reported on the perceived “war on Christmas,” in which organizations (primarily retailers) have chosen to say (or not say) Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, or some other variation on the theme. For retailers, it is a business decision, whether good or bad, in which they attempt to appease one group of consumers or another. What they do probably has an impact on their sales figures, but influences little else.
Another question revolves around what is permissible for government officials. Lawsuits and controversy have erupted over Christmas (or “holiday”) displays (like in Wisconsin). Even President Bush has been taken to task for the White House Christmas Cards that don’t mention Christmas, but do contain Old Testament Bible verses that reference the Messianic prophecy. Military Christians, then, have a confusing cornucopia of examples to look at when trying to decide what is appropriate during the Christmas season.
Is there a right answer? What can military Christians do or say? Read more…