Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s recent attacks on religious freedom — and the apparent subservience of the US Air Force to his every whim — have inspired the US Congress to write opposition to Weinstein into law. Twice.
In the first, US Rep John Fleming (R-La.) successfully inserted language into the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would be more explicit than that which was in the 2013 version — and which was subsequently dismissed in a “signing statement” by President Obama. (According to reports, the Department of Defense has yet to produce regulations implementing the provision, as required.) Rep Fleming’s amendment, Section 530, says [wording changes from 2013 highlighted]:
ACCOMMODATION- Except in cases of military necessity, the Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs, actions, and speech of a member of the armed forces reflecting the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member and, in so far as practicable, may not use such beliefs, actions, or speech as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment.
DISCIPLINARY OR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION- Nothing in paragraph (1) precludes disciplinary or administrative action for conduct that is proscribed by chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code (the Uniform Code of Military Justice), including actions and speech that
threatenactually harm good order and discipline.
The amendment also passed the Senate Armed Services Committee after being proposed by Senator Mike Lee (R-Ut). Rep Fleming said this more forceful wording was a response to the ever-increasing numbers of Christians lodging complaints that they are being discriminated against merely for speaking or acting in accordance with their faith, even when such speech or actions are consistent with the law and military regulations [emphasis added]:
Even though last year’s National Defense Authorization Act clarified that military members are allowed to hold personal religious beliefs as a matter of conscience, the Pentagon, especially the Air Force, has clearly demonstrated an overly narrow interpretation of how Christian chaplains and military members are allowed to express their beliefs, even off duty.
In a statement, the Obama administration threatened to veto the NDAA over that language (among others) to which the administration “strongly object[ed]” (though the 2013 bill received the same threat). This earned a rebuke from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) and the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. The Family Research Council said this indicated Obama had “joined forces” with “anti-Christian activist” Michael Weinstein. For its part, the ACLU called the language a “license to discriminate.”
As a “religious freedom” advocate, Weinstein should be supporting this amendment to the NDAA, right? At worst, he should be saying it is unnecessary, because the Department of Defense already has a policy that accommodates religious practice except when prohibited by military necessity. Doesn’t it?
Predictably, perennial critic Weinstein was not pleased, calling the action [formatting original]:
Absolutely RIDICULOUS aggression against our troops’ religious liberty!! We promise you that MRFF will fight against this TOOTH AND NAIL…
In case you didn’t get that, Michael Weinstein is calling a rule that protects religious exercise “aggression” against “religious liberty.”
Also at Deseret News.