GAO Publishes Conscientious Objector Study

At the direction of Congress, the Government Accounting Office conducted a study of conscientious objectors, the trends in the military, and the military processes.

A summary of the report, which also contains a link to the full report, indicates that over the past 5 years there have been 425 applications for conscientious objector status; 53% were approved and 44% were denied, with the others having some form of administrative status.  Of those that were approved, all but 14 received honorable discharges.  The remainder received “general” discharges.  Average time for application processing was 7 months.

Update: Weinstein Lawsuit Case Law

In previous posts (original, update) regarding the MRFF lawsuit against Jeremy Hall’s superior officer and the Defense Department, it has been noted that the American judicial system has been loathe to interfere with the separate judiciary of the military.  It has also been noted that, to this point, it does not appear Hall utilized the in-place grievance systems.

So as not to depend on “urban legend” and rumor, a little research resulted in finding the Supreme Court case of Chappell v. Wallace (1983), which addresses both of these concerns, and is quoted extensively below.

In Chappell v. Wallace, 462 U.S. 296 (1983), which can be referenced in its entirety here, the US Supreme Court held that superiors could not be sued by their subordinates because Read more

Military Christians and the First Priority

“What is the most important thing in your life?”

When asked what takes precedence in their lives, many active Christians have answered that their priorities are God, family, and their job, friends, or others. The answer is often repeated across career and social boundaries. Football players, soldiers, and politicians have all listed similar priorities: God, family, and job. This series of articles will expand on those three priorities, beginning with the first, or “God priority.”

One beginning note, however: A Christian’s priorities should serve as a guide, not necessarily a list of rules engraved in stone. Even if he has his priorities “set,” there are times that sacrifices must be made, and situations in life may require temporary adjustments to priorities to achieve a required goal or fulfill obligations. In the most obvious example, war often demands that soldiers be separated from their families for years at a time, which obviously has a negative impact on a military Christian’s “family priority.” The priority of family, though, does not override a serviceman’s duty to defend his country in time of war. Each situation, then, must be assessed on its own; in many cases, it depends… Read more

Update: MRFF Lawsuit Against Military

This is an update on the previous post (below) regarding the MRFF lawsuit against the military.

The MRFF lawsuit (now available) is “comprehensive” in that it lists virtually every military ministry the MRFF could think of, and accuses the military of undefined impermissible conduct with them.  Michael Weinstein lists 11 different “evidences” of “patterns and practices” of improper promotion of religious beliefs.  The 11 examples essentially comprise the most recent highlights of Weinstein’s “war” against evangelical Christianity in the military; some of the examples are vague, and none of them are substantiated.  One of them will likely be quickly ruled moot, as the 523rd Fighter Squadron “Crusaders,” terminology with which Weinstein objects, have been deactivated since May and thus no longer exist.

It appears Weinstein intends to use one court case to address Read more

New Religious Lawsuit against the US Military

According to a press release, Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has sued the military on behalf of an Army soldier.  According to the announcement, an officer harassed Army Specialist Jeremy Hall when he attempted to convene a meeting of atheists.  (The text of the suit is not yet available.)

Updated 20 September:  The text of the lawsuit is available hereSee the new post for latest commentary.

The lawsuit apparently names the Defense Secretary Robert Gates as defendant because the incident is evidence of “a pattern of military practices that discriminate against non-Christians in the military,” which he allegedly permitted in his role as Defense Secretary.

Much like his Academy lawsuit, it appears that Weinstein is attempting to aggrandize a discrete event into a larger opportunity.  A niche news article on the suit (which has yet to be seen in the mainstream media) indicated that the assertions meandered from the soldier to other unrelated issues, like alleged military support of civilian Christian organizations as well as the recent Pentagon IG report (previous commentary).  Weinstein himself has implied that this goes ‘beyond’ the two men, and said that  Read more

National Days of Prayer and Remembrance

President Bush has declared September 7-9 as “National Days of Prayer and Remembrance.”  From the press release:

We honor the members of our Armed Forces who died while taking the fight to our adversaries, and we are grateful for those who continue to protect our Nation and our way of life. Their courage, sacrifice, and dedication help preserve our freedom. We pray for their safety, for all those who love them, and for the peace we all seek…

During these days of prayer and remembrance, we reflect on all we have lost and take comfort in each other and in the grace and mercy of our Creator. May God guide us, give us strength and wisdom, and may He continue to bless our great country…

Roll Call: AF Religious Guidelines

This week’s Airman’s Roll Call, as announced in this article and published as a PDF, summarizes the Air Force religious guidelines as originally published in February of 2006.

The re-publication of the guidelines is interesting because the guidelines were ordered rescinded by act of Congress last year (see the Congressional Conference Committee report, which resulted in the passage of the Defense Authorization Act of 2007).

Addressing the confusion, one Chaplain reported that the Congressional direction was confused to begin with: it directed the rescinsion of the guidelines and the “reinstatement” of AFPD 52-1, which governed the Chaplaincy program.  However, the guidelines had nothing to do with AFPD 52-1, and 52-1 had never been superseded or replaced.  Finally, the religious guidelines were not a regulation, but a “statement” on the intended atmosphere of the Air Force.  Thus, with this latest release, it appears the Air Force is continuing to operate under the revised guidelines, as published in 2006.

High points from the Roll Call (emphasis added):

The religious guidelines…protect the constitutional right of all Airmen to practice their beliefs while respecting the beliefs of others.

Leaders at every level enjoy the same freedom of expression as all Airmen, but must ensure their words and actions are not construed as official, nor endorsing or disapproving of a particular belief.

Airmen are entitled to practice and freely discuss their personal faith beliefs. There is no restriction on voluntary discussions of religion or the exercise of free speech where it is reasonably clear the discussions are personal, not official or coercive.

Analysis of the Pentagon IG Report on “Christian Embassy”

Joint Ethics Regulation (JER), DOD 5500.7-R 5 C.F.R. section 2635.702
(b) Appearance of governmental sanction.
…an employee shall not use or permit the use of his Government position or title or any authority associated with his public office in a manner that could reasonably be construed to imply that his agency or the Government sanctions or endorses his personal activities or those of another…

On 20 July 2007, the Inspector General (IG) of the Pentagon published the report of its investigation of allegations of misconduct by military officers who participated in a “Christian Embassy” promotional video.  On or about 4 August the IG released a public version on its website.  Shortly thereafter, Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) celebrated its role as the instigator of that investigation nearly 9 months prior.  In typical hyperbolic fashion, Weinstein responded by saying

[The report reveals a] long and deep collusion with a fundamentalist, religious missionary organization, the ‘Christian Embassy’. That these senior Pentagon officials control the world’s largest nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal should eviscerate the American public’s trust and confidence in their military and civilian leadership…[The] MRFF intends to file expeditiously a comprehensive Federal lawsuit that will rapaciously pursue legal remedies to the multitude of horrific Constitutional violations this DoD/IG report reveals.

Other organizations were not so convinced.  The Family Research Council Read more

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