The third installment of pictures documenting religion and its place in the US military begins with photographs of free exercise. The first set includes photographs of the US military’s efforts to support expressions of the Jewish faith.
These pictures continue to demonstrate that the US military goes out of its way to support the free exercise of its troops, even when that free exercise might raise eyebrows among conspiracy theorists when it is associated with the US government or the US military. Celebrations of holy days, the wearing of religious artifacts in uniform, religious celebrations while armed and in uniform, even something as simple as a bar mitzvah in Iraq are shown among the photographs.
Men and women of faith can be in – and express their faith within — the US military. These pictures and those to come – all of which are publicly available – show that faith has a fitting and integral role in many lives in the military.
These photo galleries are now part of the Resources page of ChristianFighterPilot.com.
Updated with names of crew.
The Air Force announced that a C-17 Globemaster III crashed shortly after takeoff from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, on Wednesday, killing the four crewmembers. There are indications the crew was practicing for the upcoming Arctic Thunder airshow this weekend. While large aircraft occasionally have incidents on landing or on the ground, the catastrophic loss of a military cargo aircraft from a flight mishap is a relatively rare event.
Elmendorf leaders have announced the 2010 Arctic Thunder airshow will proceed as planned.
As is the common practice, the Air Force did not speculate and will conduct a month-long investigation to determine the cause.
UPDATE: The Air Force released the names of those killed on the C-17:
Maj. Michael Freyholtz
Maj. Aaron Malone
Capt. Jeffrey Hill
Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo
Dong Yun Yoon, whose family was killed when a crippled F/A-18 Hornet crashed into their home, has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the federal government and Boeing for negligence. The Navy has reportedly settled 24 claims totaling more than $800,000 over the crash, with 10 claims totaling $14.4 million outstanding.
Yoon’s lawyers received a letter Monday from the Navy Office of the Judge Advocate General, which had been negotiating with the crash victims, rejecting the last of the Yoon family’s administrative claims for wrongful death and personal injury…
Yoon’s reaction to the crash was notable, as he called on people to pray for the pilot rather than blame him.
There is no indication the pilot is individually liable or party to the lawsuit.
Lt Gen David Hurley, Vice Chief of the Defence Force of Australia, extended an open invitation to the 2010 Military Christian Fellowship Battlesmart seminar to be held in September.
The seminar will encourage and equip Christians to prepare for and succeed in spiritual battles. The guest speakers are Lieutenant General David Hurley, the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, and Brigadier (Retd) Jim Wallace, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. Topics included in ‘Battlesmart’ are spiritual warfare, ‘Behind Enemy Lines,’ prayer warriors and spiritual health while deployed.
The organization’s flyer notes that
Battlesmart is a forum where we can strengthen each other in our Christian walk and the challenge of being Jesus’ ambassadors in the ADF.
It is refreshing not only to see MCF-A put on a seminar of such value to Christians in the service, but also to see support from a Christian within the military who has lived the life of faith and been successful as a professional officer.
The MCF-A website announced the upcoming seminar.
Dr. Don Snider, Col (USA, Ret) was previously quoted here with respect to his article on faith and war. Last year, before the repeal of the policy known as “Don’t ask, don’t tell” became such a talking point, he made a presentation on that very subject at the US Army War College, entitled “Reacting to the Coming Changes in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”"
The article has some interesting perspectives, and its conclusion is telling:
It is quite insufficient for the Christian officer to react to this change in professional ethics with what I have heard on occasion, “We will just have to suck it up.” That is not leadership, rather a very poor form of followership. With study and reflection on your own part and much discussion within the fellowship, this is an evolution that you can deal with forthrightly, either in or out of active military service.
But you will have to be clear as to who you are, what you really believe, and whether you can be authentic as a Christian officer in your approach to the personal and professional tensions this change will produce. Needless to say, an inauthentic or incongruous reaction will be self-defeating to your leadership, and perhaps even toxic to your organization’s effectiveness. Time is short. I trust this outline will help you to start the necessary study and reflection.
Read Snider’s full article.
Chaplain (Col) Jacob Goldstein often attracts attention when he visits military units, as he is one of the few personnel sporting a full beard in his Army fatigues. Goldstein is one of seven orthodox Jewish Chaplains serving in the US Army.
A recent article notes his presence at a local training event in California. In the article, Goldstein takes an interesting view on spirituality in the armed forces:
“The military gives great deference to religion,” said Goldstein, “You ask any commander – any Soldier that is spiritual and has some religion makes for a good Soldier. The fact the Soldier has some kind of comfort and has some faith – regardless of that faith – if you believe in something, that’s important.”
Such a statement — a spiritual soldier makes a good soldier – might ordinarily draw a stern and caustically worded rebuke from Michael Weinstein or his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, if it came from a Christian. This is particularly relevant since two of his litigation vehicles have been atheists. (Interestingly, Goldstein has previously defended the military against Weinstein’s accusations.) Ironically, though, a member of the MRFF has recently been taken to task for degrading atheists.
Reza Aslan is reportedly Read more…
In the debate on the policy commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” some have taken to saying service by open homosexuals is no morally different to religion than is service by those who have divorced and/or remarried. That argument fails, however, because the military works actively to support marriages and prevent divorce: Read more…
In an interesting and well-received move, the US Army has begun assigning Chaplain-candidates to the US Army’s Leadership Development and Assessment Course, through which ROTC cadets train. The commander of the school, US Army Col. Paul Wood, praised the efforts to integrate the Chaplains-to-be with the officers-to-be:
“We know chaplains as those responsible for religious services, pastoral care, and answering the difficult, solitary questions we all sometimes ask.”
“The Army Chaplaincy is…giving its candidates a place to train while assisting Army ROTC with the leadership development process. Through religious support, counseling and their ministry of presence, they play a crucial role in the making of lieutenants.”
By being alongside cadets for 29 days embedded in each regiment, sleeping in tents and under the stars, navigating the same terrain, and overcoming the same obstacles, these young candidates carry a kind of credibility that other cadre and leaders here can’t match, Wood said.
The unique program seems to have the benefits of engendering a beneficial relationship between both the officer corps and the Chaplaincy within the Army.
On 13 July 2010 US Army 1LT Chris Goeke was killed in combat in Afghanistan. He was one of three Soldiers to die in that firefight and his loss, like theirs, has been mourned across the continents.
The legacy of Goeke lives on, however. He was known not only as a good Soldier, but also as a good Christian. This was told in the first person by his friend, Rajiv Srinivasan, a Hindu, at a blog at the New York Times:
Chris discovered his personal relationship with God and served as one of his finest Christian servants… Read more…
Categories: Government and Religion Afghanistan, Bible, christopher goeke, conspiracy, Hindu, Islam, mikey weinstein, Military, Public Expression, Rajiv Srinivasan, Religion
Canadian Capt. Brian Bews ejected from his CF-18 just moments before it impacted the ground at the Lethbridge County Airport in Alberta, Canada. CNN.com carries a professional video of the crash captured from the reviewing stand. In an interesting irony, the music playing from the flight line speakers is “Stayin’ Alive.”
High resolution photos of the incident taken by Ian Martens of the Lethbridge Herald show the ejection sequence in amazingly precise detail.
The first picture shows the seat leaving the aircraft: Read more…
First Lady Michelle Obama christened the US Coast Guard Cutter Stratton last Friday. There was a slight groan from the crowd when the first swing failed to break the bottle; the second was successful. Maritime tradition considers the failure of the bottle to break on christening “bad luck.” In one recent example, the Queen Victoria was reported to be a victim of the “Camilla curse” when a virus broke out on the cruise ship’s maiden voyage after the Duchess of Cornwall failed to break the bottle on the ship’s christening.
Maritime superstition notwithstanding, of course, it is laudable the First Lady would take the time to support the Coast Guard and the longstanding tradition of christening sea-going vessels.
Perhaps someday such celebrations will be overcome by events. After all, ship christening has a long and historied spiritual connection, and even the term christening is ripe with religious connotation. (See the US Navy’s official history on ship christening.) Those who want to strip any vestige of religious association from the US military will undoubtedly claim the blessing or christening of military equipment violates the Constitution and endangers American servicemembers fighting in our nation’s wars. Such a critique would be ridiculous, of course, but that hasn’t stopped similar ones made to date.
Categories: Government and Religion bottle break, christening, Church and State, coast guard, cornwall, dorothy stratton, Military, Navy, Obama, queen victoria, Religion, Tradition
US Army Lt Dan Choi, the opponent of the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” who has protested publicly in uniform, has formally been discharged from the Army for being homosexual. He announced his homosexuality on tv last year. Criminal charges for his protest at the White House were recently dropped.
Though it is surprising to see the military suggest a connection between religion and the warfighter, it did precisely that when it highlighted US Islamic government civilians who are supporting the military’s efforts at war.
Azza Meshal. Dr. Rony Shahidain. Muhammad Mizan. Three American-Muslim engineers supporting U.S. Army to equip the Soldier with the capabilities he needs to defeat this country’s enemies abroad.
Meshal, who wears the hijab, also noted the response of her government coworkers when she continued to wear the Islamic garb immediately following the terrorist Read more…
The US military notes its continuing efforts to use money and cultural support for Afghans to normalize their lives and their country. As noted previously, the US military has direct access to government funds to “meet emergency needs of civilians in support of humanitarian operations.”
The article notes that one intentional recipient of such US government funds has been mosques, both in Afghanistan and Iraq. As noted by a unit Chaplain, Chaplain (Capt) Abraham Sarmiento:
The next project brought buckets of paint, brushes and rolls of carpet in an effort to refurbish two mosques that were still in disrepair from the Soviet occupation. Read more…
The Baptist Press notes a concern that the controversy over the repeal of the policy commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may be completely avoided until after the November elections, in order to avoid potential backlash on members of Congress from conservative districts.
In a move that would potentially stoke that controversy, one Senator is preparing to offer amendments to the Defense Authorization Act that will address not only the DADT provision, but also that on abortion:
Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he’s prepared to offer amendments striking the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and pro-abortion language from the bill.
The Senator also supported the growing current of comments indicating members of the military oppose the change but feel unable to express that concern (while those who support it are doing that very thing):
Inhofe said he recently returned from a trip to Iraq in which military personnel expressed to him concern that their voice isn’t being heard. He said personnel told him, “We want to be heard and now we find out that … they’ve already decided how it’s gonna turn out.”