Over the past couple of years, there have been a few complaints that the military, government, and the VA have been evangelizing their members. These complaints have occasionally led to controversial responses, but the reaction rarely generates the headlines of the first complaint. In a fairly unusual turn of events, a former Chaplain for the Veterans’ Administration is claiming that those actions, far from encouraging “religious freedom,” are in fact discriminating against Christians.
Last year, the Fayetteville VA hospital “neutralized” its chapel by removing Christian symbols, which included covering the stained glass windows with blinds and sawing the crosses off the back of the chairs. The VA Chaplain, Archie Barringer, was asked to retire after he protested the actions. He now has the attention of his congressman, and the Rutherford Institute is investigating the possibility of suing the VA in response.
The Kansas City Star, which has increasingly become an outlet for press releases from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, noted that Weinstein’s MRFF has complained of a broadcast by the Trinity Broadcasting Network that contains military content. The 2-hour video, the “Red, White and Blue Spectacular” hosted by Christian music singer Carman, was filmed in 2003 and rebroadcast in 2005 as a military-focused independence celebration. The video is scheduled to be rebroadcast this year.
The primary complaint was an interview with then-Major General Van Antwerp, who was also then-President of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Carman was also given a tour of an Aegis cruiser and an interview with the uniformed Pentagon Chaplain.
Weinstein, who calls this a “repeat” of the “putrescent disgrace” of the Christian Embassy filming Read more
As noted at the Religion Clause, the Baltimore Sun carries an article on the ACLU’s most recent threat of “legal action” against the US Naval Academy for holding “mealtime prayers.” The Academy said it
does not intend to change its practice of offering Midshipmen an opportunity for prayer or devotional thought during noon meal announcements.
Such challenges have been going on for years, and were discussed here more than 2 years ago. The Alliance Defense Fund has volunteered to help defend the Navy against the ACLU.
As noted on the local Gazette, Walter Netsch, Jr, designer of the famous and sometimes controversial Air Force Academy cadet chapel, has died.
The Stars and Stripes reported on an official Army message board that covered a variety of topics, but whose most popular forums were on topics of religion. A portion of the religion-oriented forum was recently discontinued.
The article hypothesized that the popularity of the forum was due to the fact that it reflected the diversity of the Army community, rather than many other online forums that are dominated by one group or another.
The Baptist Press covers a speech by the Army chief of Chaplains, Maj Gen Douglas Carver, to the Southern Baptist Convention in early June.
“Our soldiers carry a heavy, heavy load…and we get to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ unencumbered while in uniform.”
An interesting commentary by an agnostic Air Force sergeant on his recent deployment reveals that the relationship between Airmen and their Chaplain is about far more than religion–or the lack thereof.
Blogs and news articles have highlighted the fact that General Norton Schwartz (official bio), the current selection to replace outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley, is Jewish. They emphasize that he is inheriting a service with “issues” involving evangelical Christians. The Forward notes that Michael Weinstein, who has sued the Defense Department for alleged Christian bias, has already asked to meet the General, even though he has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
Regrettably, the unnecessary focus on religion distracts from what many in the Air Force find more interesting: the fact that the new Chief of Staff will be the first non-fighter/bomber pilot to lead the Air Force in its history. (An official list of all Chiefs of Staff can be viewed here.)