Tag Archives: ACLU

US Naval Academy Midshipman Laments Mealtime Prayers

A US Naval Academy midshipman (cadet) recently took to the internet to complain about Annapolis’ tradition of noon mealtime prayers. (This daily tradition has been under routine attack almost annually, often from the ACLU.)  With emphasis added:

Every day the entire brigade of midshipmen congregates in our massive dining hall for lunch, and every day one of the chaplains gets up in front of everyone and says a prayer before the meal. Most of the time it’s a Christian chaplain from some denomination or another, but usually once a week there’s a Jewish chaplain.

I guess there’s really nothing wrong with it, since I don’t have to pray if I don’t want to, but it is incredibly annoying when you just want to eat your lunch and get on with the day. It doesn’t help that some of the chaplains (especially the Jewish ones, for whatever reason) are incredibly long-winded.

Something occurred to me the other day during prayer. As usual, I wasn’t bowing my head, but was instead looking around at the rest of the midshipmen, the majority of whom are religious. It occurred to me that there’s just something incredibly servile about seeing 4000-odd otherwise intelligent people all bowing their heads in unison. To me, the act of bowing your head is saying in body language that you’re not good enough on your own and you can’t do anything without the help of whatever higher power you happen to believe in. I’m generally not an angry atheist; I like to live and let live, but every time I see that, I become an incredibly angry atheist for a brief moment.

Every cadet is allowed to grouse, of course. It’s practically required to survive four years at any of the US military’s service academies.

The disturbing thing Continue reading

Sikh Denied ROTC Files Lawsuit

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the US Army on behalf of Sikh Hofstra University student Iknoor Singh, who was denied entry into ROTC because he would not comply with Army grooming standards that conflict with his religious beliefs.

From the filing (PDF):

When Mr. Singh asked for a religious exemption from these rules…, Defendants denied his request, despite approving similar religious and medical accommodations for other uniformed Army personnel in recent years.

Mr. Singh is now left with an untenable choice: Enlist as an ROTC Cadet and abandon the sacred religious practices that he has followed his entire life, or forfeit his dreams of joining ROTC–along with Continue reading

Atheists Attack Military Bibles, DoD Defends

The American Humanist Association claims it wants to support religious freedom when it demands an atheist chaplain. Simultaneously, it is threatening “legal action” because camouflage Bibles are available at a military inprocessing station for the Missouri National Guard.

The…recruitment center for the National Guard as well as other military offices…exhibited and offered camouflage-covered Bibles free of charge to recruits enlisting in the National Guard…The letter was sent on behalf of an anonymous recruit who felt that the government was impermissibly endorsing the Bibles and coercing recruits to take them…

The letter demands that the government immediately cease its practice of offering Bibles to National Guard recruits and remove any biblical literature from its possession.

The person who complained was a member of Continue reading

Multiple Religious Freedom Groups Call Military Policy Insufficient

A strikingly broad-swath of religious liberty groups has written a letter (PDF) the office of the Secretary of Defense contending the military’s recent religious accommodation policy “change” doesn’t go far enough. In one point they make:

Even if an original accommodation request is approved, religiously observant service members would be required to submit a new request for the same accommodation every time they receive a new assignment…

In other words, a Soldier allowed to have a beard for religious reasons would have to re-apply with every assignment change for a continuing accommodation — and could conceivably have to shave in the interim.

The letter was signed by groups as diverse as the ACLU, ADL, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Becket Fund, Chaplain Alliance for Continue reading

Report: Bible Controversy at Maxwell AFB

FoxNews Todd Starnes reports on a “Bible controversy” at Maxwell AFB that is, actually, many years old:

For more than a decade new military recruits at Maxwell Air Force Base – Gunter Annex in Alabama have received a Bible from Gideons International volunteers. But that tradition has come to an end after volunteers said they were told by the military that they would no longer be allowed to personally distribute the pocket-sized Bibles to recruits.

A MEPSCOM spokesman explained a little bit more:

Gaylan Johnson, is a public affairs officer for the Military Entrance Processing Command. He told me the Gideons’ side of the story is “not strictly true.”

“They can place their literature within our facility, but they are not allowed to stand there and talk with applicants or hand them (the Bibles) out.”

Unfortunately, this is the product of an old ACLU complaint — from Continue reading

Military Patches Ruined by Political Correctness?

Somewhere a military staff officer is scratching out a memorandum restricting the creation, use, and publicity of the long-running tradition of creating unit patches…

When Walt Disney created thousands of military unit insignia in World War II — all for free — he understood the positive contributions such insignia brought to morale, camaraderie, and the mission. While a majority of aircraft nose art faded with the end of WWII, units still supported those “intangible” military necessities with slogans, unit mottoes, and unit patches.

Decades later, those traditions continue, though relatively new widespread publicity has dampened some of those earlier spirits.

In one recent famous example, a group of atheists complained that a government office had the word “God” (Deo, actually) on their organizational patch. The unit acquiesced and replaced it with “miracles.” The atheists weren’t totally pleased, but they seemed to let it go since they’d had a victory over Deo.  As was noted at the time, unit and mission patches are often a collection of relevant imagery, inspirational quotes, inside jokes, and even subtle references to classified details. For example, a list of mission patches here explains the inclusion of a cluster of six stars on a patch is actually 5+1 — referring to Area 51.

More recently, the National Reconnaissance Continue reading

ACLU Defends American Troops Attacked by Mikey Weinstein

In an interesting twist, the ACLU recently praised a decision by the US Army that “protect[ed] First Amendment rights” of Soldiers — but it was precisely the opposite position of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, who claims his MRFF is the “sole group” providing soldiers that very protection. The ACLU said [emphasis added]:

[There have been] reports that Army diversity trainings have labeled various religious and socially conservative organizations as “extremist” or “hate groups.”

In response to some of that criticism, Army Secretary John McHugh recently suspended these trainings. The ACLU commended that move in a letter to the Army last week that dispels the perception left by some that the trainings were uniquely anti-Christian. The ACLU also urged the Army to better protect the First Amendment rights of military personnel going forward and offered suggestions on how to do so.

The Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition similarly applauded the decision by the Army to end and standardize those briefings.  (To be fully accurate, the Continue reading

CFC Charity Season to Begin

On September 1st the annual Combined Federal Campaign will begin.  Most troops will know this because a unit rep will come and ask them if they want to donate.  Contributions can be made automatically from a servicemember’s paycheck.

As has been noted before, the CFC hosts a wide variety of “charities,” including groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Focus on the Family.  This year, Michael Weinstein likely hopes to make up his year’s losses, as his MRFF appears Continue reading

Military Officer Accuses Marine Corps of “Legal Charade”

A recent article published by the ACLU was by-lined “Colleen Farrell, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.”  Captain Farrell slammed the US military for its “charade” in following the now-rescinded policies prohibiting women from certain combat roles.  As Captain Farrell describes it, the policies were not that females couldn’t serve in combat roles; as executed, the policies prevented females from serving greater than 45 days in a combat role:

Because of the combat exclusion policy, women Marines Continue reading

ACLU Lauds Bill to Allow Abortions in Military Facilities

Update: Respected Christian leader John Piper agrees with calling Obama’s statement “blasphemous.”

The ACLU is applauding the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health (MARCH) for Military Women Act, which would allow US military facilities to conduct abortions if paid for privately.

This sentence pretty much summed up the ACLU position:

It’s not hyperbole to say that overturning the ban on privately-funded abortions on military bases can save lives.

Yes, they actually said killing innocent children “saves lives,” but in the current culture that shouldn’t be too surprising.  The Baptist Press noted President Obama said pro-life laws — which are an effort to protect children — are “impeding progress.”

“After decades of progress there’s still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than Continue reading

Marines to Try Out Buddhist Mindfulness, Critics Stay Silent

Update:  Former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt says the Marines should be considering Christianity, not Buddhism:

“I think getting rid of anxiety is important. We need to decrease the suicide rate among our Marines,” he agrees. “But Buddhism is not the way to do that. I think Christianity is intellectually a better way to promote healthy mental awareness.”

Like Chaplain Lee, Klingenschmitt wonders where the normally vociferous critic Michael Weinstein is right now [emphasis added]:

Klingenschmitt wonders why Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has not complained about this.

“He ought to be up in arms about Buddhism being forced on our Marines, but he’s pretty silent on this because he’s really not interested in freedom of religion; instead he’s interested in silencing Christianity,” the former chaplain reasons. “So his deaf silence about this Buddhism issue proves that he’s a hypocrite.”

Klingenschmitt prevailed when Weinstein filed a lawsuit against him.  Now Klingenschmitt is suing Weinstein.

The Associated Press finally picked up the story discussed earlier about an early December announcement the US Marines were experimenting with “mindfulness,” or “Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training” based in some parts on eastern religions.

Marine Corps officials say they will build a curriculum that would integrate mindfulness-based techniques into their training if they see positive results from a pilot project. Mindfulness is a Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present…

“Some people might say these are Eastern-based religious practices but this goes way beyond that,” said Jeffery Bearor, the executive deputy of the Marine Corps training and education command at its headquarters in Quantico, Va.. “This is not tied to any religious practice. This is about mental preparation to better handle stress.”…

The goal is noble, even if it seeks to minimize the inherently religious aspects of the very objectives they are pursuing.  Faith — including, notably, the Christian faith — has long been thought to play an important role in an individual’s dealings with stress.

Perhaps someday the government will be able to publicly acknowledge the value of religious faith — and thus encourage such faith among US servicemembers.  For now, retired Chaplain (BrigGen) Douglas Lee said Christianity is so stigmatized the military is desperately looking for ways to fight stress and suicide — even to religions other than the hope that can be found in Christianity.

“I personally believe that part of the problem is that because of the attacks on traditional Christianity and Judeo-Christian values, the course guys are struggling because they don’t see anybody talking about hope…So they’re desperate to find some way to reduce the suicide rate.”

Lee also noted it was no small irony that people like Michael Weinstein and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have had nothing to say about the military borrowing aspects of religion — so long as it isn’t Christianity:

Lee contends those groups would be complaining loudly if the Camp Pendleton class incorporated Christian practices.

He’s right.  Weinstein normally has a vitriolic list of alliterative adjectives when the military so much as glances in the direction of Christianity.  But he’s probably all for government-endorsed religious elements if they undermine the plans of the super-secret Christian Triumvirate shadow government trying to take over the world.

(The MRFF discovered their plans for a secret underground bunker, so they’ve had to change their headquarters.  Rumor has it they favor chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.)

Also at the Washington Post.

FRC Criticizes US Military Adoption of Yoga

In early December the Washington Times posted a lengthy article on the US Marines “expanding use of meditation training” — essentially, aspects of yoga and Eastern religions.  The article was little different than the ones noted here over the past several years, documenting the increasing official acceptance — and even mandatory use — of the physical aspects of some Eastern religions.

More recently, the FRC‘s Tony Perkins criticized the military’s incorporation of “meditation:”

In the military, it’s out with God — and in with the goofy!…As part some new training, Marines are being asked to join weekly yoga and meditation classes…

Former Army Captain Elizabeth Stanley…insists the new age Continue reading

Homosexual Websites Claim Military Censorship

A few homosexual advocacy websites have used their military members’ access to DoD networks to claim the US military is censoring websites identified as “LGBT.”

It’s bad enough the United States Department of Defense censors Towleroad and AMERICAblog – banning the gay civil rights Web sites from being accessed on DOD computers – and it’s even worse that the Pentagon has no problem permitting their computers to access Ann Coulter’s and Rush Limbaugh’s hate-filled Web sites…

While claiming persecution is all the rage, this is actually really old news.  The ACLU has been going after libraries and public schools for years for using the same web filtering software — BlueCoat and its categories — the DoD uses.  So much ire has been aimed at BlueCoat it has revised the wording of its filter and made a point of publishing its ‘neutral stance’ on the topic.  It only provides a service; its customers choose how to employ it.

Also, as noted before (when an Air Force Sergeant tried to get ChristianFighterPilot.com blocked from military servers as “hate speech”), it is difficult to Continue reading

President Criticizes NDAA Clauses with Signing Statement

When President Obama signed the much-ballyhooed NDAA into law, he also issued a “signing statement,” a fairly recent presidential practice that explains the Executive Branch take on the Legislative Branch’s work.  The President’s signing statement notes the Constitution only allows the President to accept or reject the bill as a whole, but he still objects to some provisions.

The New York Times notes he took issue with restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo detainees, and several sites highlighted his consternation over Section 533, previously described as containing ‘religious liberty protections.’  The Section was a compromise between the House and Senate and had been opposed by atheists and the ACLU.  The White House had previously objected.  President Obama said:  Continue reading

Maxim Magazine Tightens Aim at Military Audience

In an interesting bit of timing, given the Air Force Chief of Staff’s recent health and welfare inspection, Maxim magazine was covered by the New York Times in a story highlighting its ubiquity within the military.

Why?  Basically, troops can’t get racy magazines like Playboy or Penthouse shipped to the war zone overseas — but Maxim, while it may skirt the line, doesn’t cross it:

Maxim, a testosterone-fueled magazine featuring adolescent humor and plenty of scantily clad actresses, has become for today’s Army what Esquire was to soldiers fighting in World War II and Playboy was during the Vietnam War…

The sale of “explicit” magazines on military bases comes up in the news every few years.  At one point, Lifeway publishers was attempting to create a Christian alternative to the popular magazines.  For now, the rules actually “benefit” MaximContinue reading