US Navy Relents as Group Defends Military Religious Freedom

Though it occurred somewhat under the radar these past two weeks, new US military policies clashed with religious freedom, resulting in outside groups coming to the aid of US troops and their liberties.

Late in June, the US Navy Fleet Forces Command, which administratively oversees Naval forces based within the continental United States, issued “additional Force Health Protection guidance” regarding COVID-19 mitigation procedures. In theory, Fleet Forces Command had already declared “HPCON C minus” in late March, and the late June message was a “reiteration” or reminder of that status. However, the latest release was notable (making the local news in many places) and very specifically clarified the somewhat vague HPCON C- with detailed mandatory procedures and prohibitions – including a specific statement on religious services – even those off military installations.

As printed in the Navy message (PDF):

5.A.7.B.4. (U) SERVICE MEMBERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM VISITING, PATRONIZING, OR ENGAGING IN THE FOLLOWING OFF-INSTALLATION SPECIFIC FACILITIES, SERVICES, OR ACTIVITIES…

5.A.7.B.4.F. (U) DINE-IN RESTAURANTS (TAKE-OUT AUTHORIZED), BARS, NIGHT CLUBS, CASINOS, CONFERENCES, SPORTING EVENTS, CONCERTS, PUBLIC CELEBRATIONS, PARADES, PUBLIC BEACHES, AMUSEMENT PARKS OR OTHER EVENTS DESIGNED TO PROMOTE LARGE GATHERINGS, TO INCLUDE INDOOR RELIGIOUS SERVICES.

While seemingly Read more

Chris Rodda: US Troops Can Proselytize with this One Neat Trick

Chris Rodda has long been a “creative” writer, despite her sometimes claim to be an apparent amateur historian. While she has been quick to call out the errors of others with whom she disagrees, she ignores the errors of those who are on her side. She has also published a bevy of, to put it nicely, misleading writings. For someone so quick to call others “liars,” she has a very unique view of the truth.

With that in mind, Rodda published a blog yesterday with an attention-grabbing title:

National Defense Authorization Act to Include Military Training on How to Force Religion on Others.

Like much of what she writes, though, her title wasn’t true. (Most obviously, the NDAA hasn’t left either side of Congress yet, much less gone through conference committee or to the President. In other words, the NDAA doesn’t “include” anything yet.)

The short version of a long, meandering blog (Rodda has never been one for being succinct), is that Rodda is upset about Senate bill 4049, which was introduced in the Senate only a couple of weeks ago. Within it, the Senate requires the US military to conduct training on “Religious Accommodation” that must include:

  • Federal statutes, DoD Instructions, Service regulations regarding religious liberty and accommodation for members of the Armed Forces
  • The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
  • Section 533 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
  • Section 528 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016

Of that content, Rodda takes issue only with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The RFRA is fairly short, and it says the government cannot “substantially burden” exercise of religion, with some Read more

The USAF and Race: We Can Do Better, But it’s Not My Fault

For review:

  • The US Air Force hasn’t had a male Secretary of the Air Force since 2013.
  • The outgoing Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force is African American. The incoming CMSAF is female and Asian American.
  • The incoming Chief of Staff of the Air Force is African American.
  • Of the last three Chiefs of Staff of the Air Force, two were Jewish.
  • Both the US Army and US Air Force (acting) have been led by a homosexual Service Secretary.

Every day it seems there’s an article about the first woman to do something in the Air Force (with an all-female crew), or the Army (again), or the first black woman to do something in the Air Force, or the first Sikh woman to do something in the Army, or how many different ways the Air Force can launch aircraft with only one skin color or gender on board (and the Navy does it, too).

See “Diversity: You’re Doing it Wrong.”

Yet, somehow, the US military, and the US Air Force in particular, manage to be accused of institutional racism, gender discrimination, religious extremism, and intolerance — by those very same people. In recent days, US Air Force and other military leaders have been practically tripping over themselves running to microphones, hand-wringing and expressing contrition for unclear — or imagined — affronts. Or, in other cases, those leaders are simply making direct accusations against their own Service [emphasis added, capitalization original]: Read more

US Military Ignores Faith, Celebrates Pride in Homosexual Behavior

Last month, despite the lack of any pronouncement from their Commander-in-Chief, a few US military facilities continued the Obama-era tradition of celebrating the sexual behaviors of a few of their service members.

At Yokosuka, the US Navy held a socially-distanced Pride cake cutting, attended by about 10 people, including the facility’s commander, Navy Capt Rich Garrett.

Naval Warfare Center Dahlgren celebrated Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley in an in-depth personal profile, noting he

volunteers…in the Hampton Roads LGBTQ+ community by performing as the drag queen, Harpy Daniels.

That’s…disturbing.

March Air Reserve Base noted the “evangelistic” message of Marvin Tucker, who Read more

Military Religious Freedom, Swastikas, and Police Officers

With politics, COVID-19, and racial tensions enrapturing the US public these past few months, there’s been little to discuss in the realm of military religious freedom. There has been little public movement in the case of the Manchester VA and the POW Bible. The decision to censor US Army chaplains, while significant, has quickly fallen out of the public view. (The conversation continues at higher levels, where there may yet be a coming resolution.)

As a result, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein – with a self-described “laser like” focus on religion in the US military – has had to find something else to talk about.

It started with a Weinstein complaint about headstones in a VA cemetery in San Antonio, TX, where German POWs from World War II are buried. It seems many Read more

Senator Cruz Defends Religious Freedom, Chris Rodda Embarrasses Herself

On Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) sent a letter (press release, PDF) to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper highlighting the US Army’s kowtowing to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s demands to restrict religious liberty in the Armed Forces. Some of the language may seem very similar to what was written on this site the same day [emphasis added]:

The [MRFF] has been waging a campaign against the chaplaincy, and frankly, against religious freedom in the military generally. In response, the Army has censored chaplains’ religious speech based on the flawed and arbitrary notion that military chaplains may not carry out their official duties outside of a religious ceremony that occurs within the four walls of a chapel.

As with other members of Congress in the recent past, Cruz reminded Read more

The US Army Restricts Chaplains to the Chapel’s Four Walls

As the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic increasingly restricted personal interaction, US military chaplains did what many of their civilian counterparts were doing and increased their “virtual” presence through online chapel services and videos. Chaplains who could no longer interact with their troops on the PT field, in the barracks, or in the halls — like Chaplain (Maj) Brian Minietta — found other ways to do so, including using their units’ Facebook pages.

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein did not like this, claiming that the presence of chaplains’ video messages on unit Facebook pages constituted command endorsement of the message and coercion of subordinates to those beliefs. According to Weinstein acolyte Lawrence Wilkerson, whose primary claim to fame is being the former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, these military chaplains were actually violating the US Constitution.

While laughable on its face, it would seem the US Army Chaplain Corps ultimately agreed. It provided guidance (PDF) to its chaplains on May 26th in which it instructed chaplains to keep “specific religious” messages off unit Facebook pages:

General encouragement can be placed on a unit webpage, but specific religious support content should be on a dedicated UMT, RSO, or Chapel webpage.

In fact, as the MRFF gleefully noted, the Chaplain guidance went Read more

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