Amid the controversy over Presidential addresses at university graduations, the White House announced with far less fanfare the commencement schedule of the Vice President. Biden will deliver the graduation address at civilian colleges, as well as the US Air Force Academy on May 27th.
Though Notre Dame has captured the media attention, the White House previously announced President Obama will also speak at the US Naval Academy on May 22nd. Traditionally, the President rotates among the military academies for a graduation address each year.
Updated: CNN now carries the story.
The Sikh Coalition has announced a “campaign” to convince the US Army to allow members of the Sikh faith to serve in uniform. Two medical students, one a dentist, one a doctor, were reportedly recruited by the Army only to be told later that they would not be able to wear their religious apparel while in uniform.
According to the site, the Sikh faith requires that they carry their “articles of faith,” which include “unshorn” hair, a turban, a metal bracelet, a kind of shorts, and a kirpan (or “Sikh sword”). In general, these accoutrements have been found to be inconsistent with military uniform regulations; therefore, Sikhs would have to give up these articles of faith while in uniform Read more
The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Specialist Dustin Chalker and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The lawsuit (discussed previously and available here) alleged that Chalker was forced to attend formations that had Christian prayers. It asked that the Courts direct that the DoD not require Chalker to attend formations at which a prayer was given.
The motion to dismiss contains a variety of strong points (some of which have been mentioned on this site previously). In particular Read more
According to a variety of reports, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has called for the dismissal of Chaplain (Major General) Douglas Carver, the US Army’s Chief Chaplain. As noted earlier, Chaplain Carver had called for a day of prayer and fasting among his Chaplaincy corps on April 8th, which coincided with the beginning of Passover celebrations in the Jewish community.
Weinstein claimed he’d received a “tsunami” of complaints against the Day of Prayer, though his MRFF is the only organization to protest. Weinstein, who is Jewish, said
The fact that this would fall on this same day is not just wrong or bad, but unforgivable, and Carver should be severely disciplined.
By contrast, some responses, by those of both the Jewish and other faiths, expressed support for the Chaplain, noting that Jewish fasts are entirely appropriate on this day. One post appears to have been written by Chaplain (Col) Jacob Goldstein, the US Army’s “Senior Jewish Chaplain,” Read more
The Air Force announced the selection of 308 candidates for Officer Training School. This is 36% of the 865 applications; nearly 50% of the selectees were enlisted Airmen.
OTS continues to be a popular means for becoming an officer–the first step to becoming a military pilot.
There has long been a shortage in Chaplains in the Guard and reserve, as previously noted. The Stars and Stripes notes that reservists are currently in high demand, as they are activated to fill posts of Chaplains who are deployed downrange.
Said one such Chaplain, who had been activated multiple times over the past decades:
“[The soldiers] sought reassurance that they were there for the right purposes. A lot of them had religious questions about God — ‘What does God think about this?’ People wanted to be baptized. There are no atheists or agnostics in foxholes.”
The Baptist Press notes the story of Chaplain (Col) James White of the 10th Mountain Division,
Fine sand and blinding dust swirled across the Iraqi desert, providing cover for U.S. Army soldiers to advance deeper into enemy terrain. The lead Humvee inched cautiously forward. The soldiers on point radioed to a support group behind them — and asked for a chaplain…
“We’re scared,” the soldiers told Chaplain White when he joined them. “Could you take a few minutes to pray with us?” “We all knelt there in the sand and prayed,” said White…
Heading back to the support unit, White awaited the impending battle…[The soldiers] drove slowly forward — and suddenly met a Russian-built T-72 tank. The battle was on.
Chaplains serve a vital–and unique–role in our nation’s armed forces.
As noted at the Stars and Stripes, Col Kimberly Toney was cleared in the 3rd Air Force investigation of her email that linked to a video with religious content (hosted on a website with content allegedly hostile to the President) (previous discussion).
From the article:
“After a thorough consideration of the facts, the Third Air Force has concluded Colonel Toney acted inadvertently and unintentionally and did not willfully violate Air Force policy or (Equal Employment Opportunity) guidelines,” said Lt. Col. Dave Honchul, 3rd Air Force’s director of public affairs.
Notably, the article also notes that the Air Force received no complaints from servicemembers or civilians over the email.