Religious Objection to Military Autopsy

As noted at the ADF, the AP has reported that an Army Private contacted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation after the Army autopsied his deceased infant son.  The Private indicated that he was Muslim and objected to the autopsy on religious grounds.  Reports indicate that the MRFF plans to include this, as everything else, in their ongoing lawsuit.

While the situation is regrettable, it is not isolated to this military case or this religion.  Many government offices perform autopsies over the religious objections of the family, and the courts have apparently supported their ability to do so–particularly when the cause of death is suspect, as it was in this case.  It is not, then, a case of military “anti-Islamic prejudice and bigotry,” as Michael Weinstein asserts.

It is also worth noting that the religious opposition to autopsy is equally valid in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths.  There is no objection to the practice in their core doctrines, though “interpretation” in each could lead to the conclusion.

Air Force Awards Chaplains Service

According to an AF.mil article, the Air Force has announced the winners of the 2007 Chaplain Service Awards.  Among many others was included the “Spirit of the Four Chaplains Award,” which honors the memory of the four Chaplains lost on the USAT Dorchester 65 years ago this year.  In the quartet there was a Catholic Priest, Jewish Rabbi, and two Protestant Chaplains.  More information on the four Chaplains can be seen on the website of the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, which

exists to further the cause of “unity without uniformity” by encouraging goodwill and cooperation among all people.

“Unity without uniformity” may be an excellent way to describe the necessary relationships among those of varying faiths in the military today–where Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines work together without any requirement that they necessarily believe the same tenets (or are required to accept the truth claims of another system).

Jewish Chaplains in Iraq

An AF.mil article highlights the unique circumstances of a Jewish US Air Force Chaplain in Iraq.  The article notes that he is the only AF Jewish Chaplain in the AOR, though a recent article at the Jerusalem Post indicates that there are four more in the US Army also deployed there.

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

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