Reversed: US Navy Continues Catholic Chaplain Contracts

Various outlets have reported the US Navy reversed the “controversial” decision (highlighted here yesterday) to cancel contracts for civilian Catholic chaplains, which was reportedly done either as a cost-savings or because it didn’t serve the proper demographic, depending on who you asked.

The religious services will continue for at least the next year, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander Navy Region Southwest, said in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.

“Contrary to previous discussions, this year we will continue contracted religious ministry programs and services similar to what we’ve had in place previously,” Bolivar said. “We will also continue to assess how best to meet the needs of our sailors and their families throughout the region.”

The decision to axe the civilian chaplain contracts was criticized by Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese that encompasses the military service.

The Navy’s actions had even caught the attention of their Commander-in-Chief, with President Trump tweeting about the reversal: Read more

US Navy Cancels Catholic Services, Other Religious Services Continue

Various news outlets covered the US Navy’s decision not to renew the contracts of civilian chaplains who were filling critical billets in the military chaplaincy:

The Navy has declined to renew contracts with Catholic priests in a supposed “cost-cutting” move, leaving bases without enough chaplains to keep services going…

The San Diego Tribune’s headline was somewhat misleading, as “other religious services continue” because most of the contract chaplains are Catholics, so the “other religious services” will continue to be served by active duty military chaplains.

Part of the Navy’s reasoning, according to Vice Admiral Yancey Lindsey, was that chaplain contracts were ended

at bases where those services are readily available in the surrounding community outside the base.

Such reasoning is dangerous toward Read more

Mikey Weinstein Gets Marine Corps to Cancel Speaker Because of Christianity

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently celebrated the fact the US Marine Corps acceded to his demands in only “64 minutes” and canceled the scheduled presentation of Jay Lorenzen, a retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. The presentation was to be on the Gettysburg battlefield. Weinstein’s criticism of Lorenzen was stark, as described by his research assistant Chris Rodda:

Last night when an email came in to MRFF from a Marine Reserve JAG, reporting that 120 Marine Reserve JAGs were to be required to virtually attend a “battle-study” training of Gettysburg tomorrow led by a Jay Lorenzen, the name was very familiar to us at MRFF as a staff member of none other than Campus Crusade for Christ.

One look at the website for Lorenzen’s “High Ground at Gettysburg” training confirmed that the JAG’s concerns that this was to be a Christian proselytizing event were well founded.

Or, as Weinstein put it (in his characteristic poor grammar and ellipses flair): Read more

Breaking: US Military Bans Gay Pride Flag on Installations

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issued a memorandum that, according to one news outlet, “effectively” banned the Confederate flag — without saying so:

The new guidance governs the display and depiction of flags on military installations, and while the policy does not specifically mention the Confederate battle flag, it is not listed among the flags permitted to be displayed…

“The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols,” Esper added.

Critics of the flag are celebrating — but don’t seem to realize the guidance bans the LGBT or “gay pride” flag, as well. Members of the US military have flown the rainbow/gay pride flag in Afghanistan and around the world on US military installations, and US troops have even stood in formation under it.

Though potentially unintentional, if you’re going to have a “neutral” policy toward flags (another question altogether), then it should “effectively” ban the gay pride flag. Waving a flag that celebrates a particular Read more

Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion Flirts with Dangerous Language

Yesterday, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett chaired the first meeting of the Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion – a recent creation of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper explicitly in response to the death of George Floyd. In that meeting, Secretary Barrett used some direct – if somewhat unspecific – language [emphasis added]:

Diversity is more than tolerance. Genuine diversity generates acceptance. This Board’s mandate is to move forward with alacrity and positively transform the Defense Department for today’s service members and for generations to come.

Alacrity notwithstanding, her statement begs the question: What does she mean by “acceptance” that is more than tolerance?

For context, consider that Read more

Christian Fighter Pilot Returns to the Sky

LtCol Jonathan “Flood” Kassebaum, commander of the 125th Operation Support Squadron at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, Florida, flew an F-15 Eagle last week – eight months after nearly being electrocuted in his backyard.

Kassebaum was severely injured while working on a project in the backyard of his family home. He remained lifeless for nearly 12 minutes after the electrocution and was placed in a medically induced coma.

In his civilian life, Kassebaum is the Lead Pastor of the Crossing Church, and he told his story at the Read more

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

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