Weinstein Blasts Commandant’s Assignment

In a typically scathing commentary, Mr. Michael Weinstein lambasted the move of General Caslen, currently Commandant at West Point, to lead an infantry division out of Hawaii.  Caslen was one of several flag officers who appeared on a Christian Embassy video investigated by the Inspector General last year (previous post).

Expanding his hyperbolic and alliterative repertoire, Weinstein called this a “tragic trifecta of travesty” and likened the General to Iraqi militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr.  He also criticized Caslen’s association with OCF, which he said was a

virulently fundamentalist Christian organization devoted to gaining unconstitutional control of the U.S. armed forces…

As with everything else, Weinstein has promised to add this to his ongoing lawsuit (in fact, he said it would go to the “head of the list”).

ACLJ Petitions for Military Chaplains

The ACLJ, which is sometimes referred to as the Christian version of the ACLU, renewed its call for a petition to protect the right of military Chaplains to pray within the dictates of their faiths, even outside scheduled sectarian services.  This appears to be an update to a similar push last year.  While there are no explicit rules that prohibit a sectarian prayer outside of a religious service (those that did exist were rescinded by act of Congress), the “sensitivity” of the subject has led many to avoid any perception of it whatsoever.

The ACLJ also noted an as-yet unpublished story out of Iraq which contends that a Christian service was “suppressed” because of the “Chaplain’s theology.”

While the religious situation in the military is not nearly so dire as the ACLJ (or the MRFF) would sometimes seem to think, there are people on both sides that do believe it is, and they are making concerted efforts to influence both the military and national opinion.

UPDATE: OneNewsNow picks up the story here.

Second T-38 Crashes

As if a reminder was needed of the danger of the military fighter pilot profession, a T-38 crashed at Sheppard AFB today.  It was the second in 8 days (after a crash at Columbus AFB), and has led the AF to tentatively ground the entire fleet.  The T-38 is the primary jet aircraft used to train future fighter and bomber pilots.

As covered by Fox, CNN, and AF.mil.

Ethics and Professional Conduct

Our service succeeds only because of the integrity of our Airmen…
– Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne

Ethical challenges are a virtual certainty in the military.  While some instances are “obvious,” like temptations to steal or cheat, some situations are unique in the military environment.  For example, a variety of Air Force members—including one general officer—were recently punished for inappropriate influence in regard to a $50 million contract for the Thunderbirds.  It is unlikely that many of those involved considered themselves to be overtly “cheating” or “stealing,” yet the actions were treated just as severely.  A few years ago, two Boeing executives (one a recent Air Force retiree) were sentenced to prison for unethical conduct with respect to ongoing government negotiations. Read more

The Military and the National Day of Prayer

As previously noted, the National Day of Prayer is May 1st, by virtue of Presidential declaration and in accordance with US law.  According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has complained that the NDP “task force” (associated with Focus on the Family) has coordinated with military bases and Chaplains for the observance.  Using his oft-repeated hyperbolic and alliterative talking points, Weinstein promised

that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation fully [intended] to include this despicable collusion in [their] current Federal litigation against the Department of Defense as yet another stunning example of a pernicious and pervasive pattern and practice of unconstitutional rape [of] religious liberties…

Jason Leopold, a former journalist and frequent voice for the MRFF, took issue with the fact that coordinators for the task force were required to sign a statement that ‘confirmed their commitment to Christ.’ Read more

National Day of Prayer: May 1st, 2008

From the Presidential Proclamation,

Americans of many different faiths share the profound conviction that God listens to the voice of His children and pours His grace upon those who seek Him in prayer…I ask the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, each according to his or her own faith, for the freedoms and blessings we have received and for God’s continued guidance, comfort, and protection.

A background on the tradition can be seen here.

Some have complained that the National Day of Prayer has been “hijacked” by the “religious right.”  This perception is probably due to the fact that Christians have been the most enthusiastic about supporting the observance.  As explicitly stated by the National Day of Prayer “task force,” each American is free to observe the NDP as they desire, or not at all.  Though they are expressing this “tolerant” view, some participants of the alternative “inclusive” NDP plan to picket the observances coordinated by the NDP task force.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Air Force Deputy Chief of Chaplains Brigadier General Cecil R. Richardson will speak to a Dallas-area observance of the NDP on “Prayer as Our Tradition.”   As with all military associated events, “persons of all faiths, cultures and generations are encouraged to attend.”  General Richardson has been selected to become the next Air Force Chief of Chaplains.

Congressional Call for Chaplain Investigation

As noted on the Charlotte Observer, Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) has called for a

government investigation of all US military chaplains who were approved by Abdurahman Alamoudi.

All military Chaplains are required to have an endorsement by an ecclesiastical body.  Alamoudi formed the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council, which provided such an endorsement for Muslim Chaplain candidates.

Alamoudi is now serving 23 years in jail on terrorism related charges, after having been involved financially with Libya and with an assassination plot on Saudi Prince Abdullah.

Though Myrick has been criticized for her statement, it is noteworthy that Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) voiced the same concerns over 5 years ago.

Depending on the source, there appear to be approximately a dozen Muslim Chaplains in the military.  Notably, one government web article in 2006 stated that there were more Muslim and Jewish Chaplains than there were Catholic per military observant.

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