Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation is again focused on Campus Crusade for Christ. CCC is the parent organization of Christian Embassy, which was the impetus for an Inspector General investigation earlier this year that found officers unlawfully supported the organization.
Weinstein’s latest accusations–which he contends will be integrated into his ongoing lawsuit against an Army Major and the Secretary of Defense–revolve around the concept of “government-paid missionaries,” a term sometimes used in reference to Campus Crusade military members. Read more
(Updated 31 Dec 07)
As government officers and followers of Christ, military Christians have a uniquely personal interaction with the sometimes controversial relationship between church and state. Even something as simple as saying “Merry Christmas” (see earlier post) can require consideration unthinkable in the civilian world. For each situation, Christians should stand by their beliefs; however, they need not do so polemically. For an interesting case study, consider some of the recent controversies (and responses) over Christmas displays:
Towns across the country have chosen to place nativity scenes, Christmas trees, and Menorahs on government property. When lawsuits and other attempts to remove them have failed, opposing groups have “joined” what they could not “beat”–they’ve put up their own displays. Read more
As noted at FoxNews and other news sources, some people are upset that a resolution acknowledging Christmas was opposed by 9 members of the House, while resolutions honoring other religions were passed unanimously. HR 847 (Christmas, Yes: 372/No: 9/Present/No Vote: 50) was identical in many respects to HR 635 (Ramadan, Y:376/N:0/P:56).
One lawmaker’s staff said she had
previously has opposed similar bills on Christianity because she “has concerns about separation of church and state.”
Apparently, those concerns apply only to Christianity, as the Representative voted “yes” on resolutions regarding Islam and Indian religious observations.
Many blogs and pundits have also skewered the Congress for wasting time, foisting Christianity on Americans, and entangling the government with religion, while those same people said nothing regarding the previous resolutions on other religions.
Some people, including the bill’s sponsor, Representative Steve King (R-Iowa), believe this is further proof of an undue hostility in America not toward religion, but toward Christianity. Whether true or not, the furor surrounding the resolution is indicative of the cultural sensitivity of Christianity in the public square, something military Christians would do well to remember.
(King acknowledged that he essentially proposed the resolution to make a point. Previously, he voted “present” on the other religious resolutions.)
The Christian Science Monitor did an interesting series on the impact and importance of Chaplains in the US military, as written by an embedded reporter in Afghanistan.
Merry Christmas…can we say that?
Both religious and secular news sources have repeatedly reported on the perceived “war on Christmas,” in which organizations (primarily retailers) have chosen to say (or not say) Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, or some other variation on the theme. For retailers, it is a business decision, whether good or bad, in which they attempt to appease one group of consumers or another. What they do probably has an impact on their sales figures, but influences little else.
Another question revolves around what is permissible for government officials. Lawsuits and controversy have erupted over Christmas (or “holiday”) displays (like in Wisconsin). Even President Bush has been taken to task for the White House Christmas Cards that don’t mention Christmas, but do contain Old Testament Bible verses that reference the Messianic prophecy. Military Christians, then, have a confusing cornucopia of examples to look at when trying to decide what is appropriate during the Christmas season.
Is there a right answer? What can military Christians do or say? Read more
As reported in the local paper, Clemson University (a state run school) is in “correspondence” with the ACLU over head football Coach Tommy Bowden’s annual “Church Day,” in which the team visits a church every year. The ACLU contends that Bowden was violating the separation of church and state by his actions, stating he had
abused his authority as Clemson University’s head football coach by imposing his strong personal religious beliefs upon student-athletes under his charge.
The University investigated and determined that the function would be allowed to continue, as it is on a voluntary basis.
Why should a military Christian care? The ACLU Read more
The Indianapolis Colts and their Coach Tony Dungy–who made waves this year as the first African American and outspoken Christian to win the Super Bowl–have received the American Spirit Award. According to the Air Force press release,
The American Spirit Award is the Air Force’s highest form of recognition given to civilian organizations for longstanding commitment and support to Air Force recruiting efforts.
Dungy’s book, Quiet Strength (review), was also a bestseller this year. (Photo Credit: USAF)
Michael Yon regularly writes personal experience articles for FoxNews, and did so recently when he saw an Iraqi Catholic service–attended by Iraqi Muslims and American soldiers–in which the Americans were thanked for their sacrifices.
Notably, Yon reports that local Muslim Iraqis specifically asked the American military to come and provide protection for the local Christian population. Read his full article on Dispatches From Iraq: Come Home.
It is regrettable that some will undoubtedly seize upon this positive story (and the presence of American soldiers in a Christian service in Iraq) as evidence for the rest of the world of our “crusade” in the Middle East.