“God’s Warriors” on CNN, 21-23 August 2007

As previously posted, CNN’s special on “God’s Warriors” runs this week.

The CNN site lists the topics as:

Judaism: Murder in Hebron and Settler vs. Soldier
Islam: Holy Killing and Martyrdom
Christianity: Christians and Falwell and The Culture War

With murder and holy killing juxtaposed with Falwell and a culture war, it is fairly easy to see why some are worried that CNN will equate evangelical Christians with radical Islam.

Their “objectivity” remains to be seen.

ACLJ Represents Pentagon Officers

The ACLJ recently responded to the release of the Pentagon Inspector General’s report.  They said

We think the legal conclusions of the Department of Defense Inspector General are incorrect as a matter of fact and as a matter of law. 

They also stated that they represent two of the officers, including the retired Chaplain who was the focus of much of the report.

See the FRC response and original post below.

FRC Responds to Pentagon IG Report

According to One News Now, Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, is concerned that organizations like Weinstein’s MRFF may “extrapolate” the IG’s recent decision regarding Pentagon officers’ participation in a Christian Embassy video (see recent post below).

The IG found that the officers violated Joint Ethics Regulations regarding endorsement of a “non-federal entity while in uniform,” but also noted that the violations had nothing to do with religion.  Weinstein has proclaimed on his website that the report proves

…the intentional dismantling of the Constitutionally mandated wall separating church and state by some of the highest ranking officials in the Bush Administration and the U.S. military…

Perkins points out that the issue at stake was not Constitutionality or the Establishment Clause, as Weinstein insists, but non-religious ethics regulations.

Perkins expressed concern that “extrapolation” to the appearance of punishing the officers’ involvement with a religious organization (which was not the case) may “intimidate…military personnel from being associated with religion.”

Tikkun Covers Weinstein…with a Catch

Tikkun, which describes itself as a “progressive Jewish magazine,” recently gave an interview to Michael Weinstein in which he repeated many of his standard lines (America is equivalent to Nazi Germany in 1937, on a train to Slaughterville, withering fields of fire and sucking chest wounds, etc).

When Weinstein couldn’t come up with one, Tikkun told him it believed that the reason for the rise of the “Christian Right” was that only Christians were adequately responding to a “spiritual crisis” in America.  Weintein was asked how he would address this “crisis:”

How do you build character in this multi-religious, pluralistic way, that is feminist, that is sensitive to people, and yet is part of this huge, military, dominate-the-world force that seems to be what the American military is up to now?

His response:  Read more

Pentagon Report on Christian Embassy Completed

As noted recently in Time magazine (and the Washington Post, as of 6 Aug), the Inspector General completed its investigation (on July 20th) into the participation of military officers in a Christian Embassy promotional video.

No “official” release of the “Official Use Only” report could be found, though a few sites have scanned copies–most notably, Michael Weinstein’s MRFF, which claims credit for instigating the investigation. [Edit:  The IG has released a public version on their website.  It is now available here.]

Notable quotes from the report:

Military officers who appeared in a promotional video for Christian Embassy improperly endorsed and participated with a non-federal entity while in uniform.  (Violates JER Sections 2635.702b and 3-300a, and DoD and Service Regulations on uniform wear.)

Two participants were found not to have violated any rules, because though they personally endorsed Christian Embassy  Read more

Appeal Dropped in Government/Religious Speech Case

The Defense Logistics Agency has ended its appeal of a case in which an employee was barred from posting a “religious” message on an employee bulletin board.  (See the ADF article.)  (The case was decided in District Court in March in favor of the employee.)  The case involved an employee who posted a message stating that supporting the Combined Federal Campaign could result in support of abortion and homosexuality, among other things.  Read more

Christians and the Hindu Senate Invocation

On 12 July 2007, Rajan Zed, a Hindu resident* of Nevada, delivered a mantra for the traditional daily opening prayer in the US Senate.  Few Americans know his name, and fewer know what he said.  What many Americans know, however, is that he was interrupted.

Objectively, three people were removed from the Senate chamber during Zed’s chant.  Depending on the news source cited, the “activists,” “protesters,” “Christian patriots,” or “heroes” were arrested for “praying in Jesus’ name” or “disrupting” the Senate proceedings.

The three people openly said they were Christians, and they knew they could be arrested for what they were going to do.  They also said they were “not heckling,” but hoping their prayer would be a “shield” from God’s wrath over the Hindu “idolatry” in the nation’s Capitol.  James Klingenschmitt, the former Navy Chaplain, was in the Senate chamber and noted the irony of a government that would apparently suppress Christian prayer but allow that of a Hindu.

When the Hindu invitation was announced, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU)–which ordinarily vociferously opposes government-endorsed chaplains–welcomed the incident as a step toward “diversity,” not because they agreed with the concept of government-backed prayer, but because it would make “the Religious Right…go insane.”  Read more

5th Circuit Vacates Suit Against School Board Prayers

An interesting split-decision [pdf] found that an anonymous plaintiff, represented by the ACLU, lacked standing to sue a school board for their opening invocations.

While the ADF called this a “blow” to the ACLU’s practice of suing with “offended observers,” it is worth noting that the court did not rule on the merits of the case.

[The “offended observer” refers loosely to accusations of “planting” people in public meetings who are suddenly offended.  Those who accused groups of using that tactic claimed they were unable to find a “real” offended person and thus had to create their own.  This supposedly led to lawsuits where plaintiffs were virtually unknown to the community that was in support of the challenged activity.]

A concurring opinion noted:  Read more

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