Prior to dropping its previous lawsuit against the Department of Defense, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a new lawsuit on behalf of an Army soldier who was required to attend military formations at which “sectarian Christian” prayers were delivered.
The relief sought by the MRFF is not that the prayers end, but that the soldier not be required to attend those mandatory formations. The unwieldiness of implementing this relief would have the effect of requiring all mandatory formations (whether in fact or perceived) to be free from sectarian prayer (which the 11th Circuit said would be impossible to define), or simply free from any prayer at all.
In its current filing, the MRFF does not attempt to prove that the prayers advanced a religion Continue reading
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the 11th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that found a Georgia commission’s practice of opening their sessions with prayer was Constitutional. According to the article, the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State claimed that
overtly Christian prayers [with respect to the government] are an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
Instead, the court indicated (in its ruling here) that it was not appropriate for the judicial branch to “parse” prayers; and if they did, no one would be able to agree on what was or was not appropriate.
Whether invocations of ‘Lord of Lords’ or ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Mohammed’ are ‘sectarian’ is best left to theologians, not courts of law….We would not know where to begin to demarcate the boundary between sectarian and nonsectarian expressions….Even the [plaintiffs] cannot agree on which expressions are “sectarian.”
The ruling reflects the Supreme Court precendent Continue reading
The Air Force Times has an article on one of the first pilot training graduates to be assigned to a UAV rather than an aircraft. He displays an admirable perspective:
The Air Force is bigger than me. The Air Force doesn’t exist to serve my needs, I exist to serve the needs of the Air Force.
Currently, Air Force offers bonuses of $125,000 to Air Force pilots who commit to stay on active duty for five years beyond their active duty service commitment. The Air Force Times reports that 68% of eligible pilots accepted it, above the 66% goal.
Interestingly, the numbers for fighter airframes were low.
- F-22 – 43%
- F-16 – 51%
- F-15C – 68%
- A-10 – 53%
By contrast, the F-15E community had an 81% acceptance rate, and all other airframes, including heavies and helos, were above 68%.
By and large, the reasons cited Continue reading
Not long after proving monetary incentive for officers to leave the military, the Air Force Times reports that the Air Force is now trying to get some officers to come back. Citing a shortage in the aviation career field, the Air Force is apparently looking for pilots for the role of ISR, as well as possible UAV pilots.
As previously noted, CAPT (USN) Neil Block is a Jewish lay leader who was personally involved in the investigation of alleged anti-Semitism in the Fort Benning community.
Now, Block himself is the target of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. In an article written by Jason Leopold, Michael Weinstein has called for his “immediate dismissal by Fort Benning” for his comments “trivializing” the incident, which Weinstein calls an “Army hate crime”:
Mr. Block displays a truly alarming and willful reckless disregard for the truth of this tragic Army hate crime and subsequent cover-up…Mr. Block is apparently the current reigning Poster Child for Army religious predator apologists.
[In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that Leopold is a frequent advocate for the MRFF, and has received an award from them.]
The vitriol directed toward CAPT Block inspired an open letter at Jews in Green.
Also noted at the Religion Clause.
According to the Associated Press, the Army has given non-judicial punishment to a soldier who assaulted a fellow trainee (previous discussions). The assault has been widely reported in concert with the victim’s complaints of discrimination because of his Jewish faith; however, the Army indicates there was no evidence the incidents were related. Michael Weinstein disagreed, saying
Michael Handman was turned into a punching bag for the Army because of his religious faith.
The incidents were also reported at the blog Jews in Green, where CAPT Neil Block, USN (Ret), has commented. He was the retired Jewish officer and local leader brought in to provide an assessment of the situation, and his comments are enlightening.
Also noted at the Religion Clause.
According to a variety of press reports, Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has withdrawn its lawsuit filed on behalf of Jeremy Hall against the Department of Defense. The decision comes after months of delays in the MRFF’s deadline (and days prior to the current one) to file a response to the military’s motion to dismiss.
Some reports have implied that the decision was based on Hall’s plan to leave the Army next year; however, since the lawsuit was announced last year Hall has widely reported that he planned to leave the Army. The decision to abandon the case now is inconsistent with Weinstein’s frequent comments in support of it, including a recent assertion that a post-lawsuit IG visit would bolster the case.
The more likely cause Continue reading
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution carries an article on the recent complaint of a Jewish Army trainee regarding religious discrimination (see previous discussion).
The AJC notes that there were three “offenses”:
In an article related to the previous CFC discussion, the Military Times has an “info center” on the CFC that includes a list of charities.
In what is a continual struggle in the military, the Air Force times carries an article on rules in the 2009 Defense Authorization Act that govern the review of explicit materials sold on military bases. Such materials are frequently the target of advocacy groups and remain one of the few “vices” that the military preaches against yet still sells.
As noted at Fox News, a US Army trainee complained of religious discrimination after superiors used remarks denigrating to the Jewish faith and required him to remove his yarmulke. (As previously noted, some religious attire is authorized in uniform; in fact, the yarmulke is the only such attire specifically mentioned.)
The soldier also was the victim of assault. According to Fox News, the Army does not believe the events are connected. Michael Weinstein, however, not only believes they are, but believes that those responsible must be Christians.
[T]hese ever more frequent, tragic matters [are the result] of unbridled, military-sponsored Christian religious oppression…
Like every allegation, Weinstein said he intends to include this in his lawsuit(s).
Also noted at the Religion Clause.