The Department of Defense issued a plethora of statements celebrating the Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which had prevented the Federal government from recognizing homosexual “marriage.” The ruling paves the way for the US military to provide marital benefits to homosexual couples.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is now the chair for the Senate Armed Services Committee, the panel that handles military personnel and administrative matters. Gillibrand’s reputation is one of advocacy for homosexuals:
Gillibrand…was one of the senators pushing hardest for repeal of the old Clinton-era “don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that restricted service by homosexuals.
She also recently sponsored a military benefits bill for homosexuals, requiring the military to treat homosexual “marriages” the same as heterosexual ones:
Gillibrand…introduced a [bill] named for a New Hampshire Army National Guard member, Chief Warrant Officer Karen “Charlie” Morgan, who died Feb. 10 of breast cancer. Morgan left a wife, Karen, who is not eligible for survivor benefits as would the surviving spouse of a male soldier…
Gillibrand said, “Same-sex partners of military service members should not be denied essential benefits because of who they are. We must ensure that all of our military families who have sacrificed so much have access to the services and treatment they need and deserve.”
Gillibrand’s committee chair comes as the US military has already stated its intent to grant such benefits — as soon as it stops being illegal. Gillibrand’s act would presumably repeal the Defense of Marriage Act — which means it is unlikely to pass the US House. The House is defending DOMA in court.
Meanwhile, while Secretary Eric Shineski has granted an exception for a homosexual regarding burial, Catholic Archbishop Timothy Broglio wondered out loud if the Department of Defense was already acting contrary to the law:
“This new policy under the guise of ‘equal benefits’ undermines marriage as the union of one man and one woman because it treats two persons of the same sex as spouses,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services…“Can the Secretary of Defense establish a policy that undermines federal law as established by [the Defense of Marriage Act]?”
Broglio gave an example of the impact of the governmental acceptance of homosexuality on religious liberty, using the position of a JAG:
Could a JAG officer choose, out of religious or moral convictions, not to give legal advice on marital and family issues to same-sex ‘partners’ without being subject to discipline? Forcing the officer to violate his conscience would not be fair…
Chaplains — whom Broglio oversees — are in the more obvious position of conflict, which make Broglio’s choice of example interesting. Chaplains clearly aren’t the only group affected — all servicemembers are.
Of course, a chaplain once said he’d be happy to counsel a homosexual couple on marriage: He’d counsel them they were living a sinful life, and he’d counsel them to stop.
Michael Weinstein will no doubt be up in arms again. Just days after he excoriated MajGen Marty Umbarger for his September 2011 video favoring a military support charity, it seems another General officer has done a similar thing. The self-appointed watchdog for endorsements of non-Federal entities by uniformed officers will likely be enraged.
Brigadier General Loree Sutton appears in a video on the website of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which is clearly a charity and non-Federal entity. The “problem,” if there is one, is Gen Sutton sings the praises of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence and its facilities, which were funded and built entirely by the charity Continue reading
The US Department of State recently released its 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom covering 199 nations and territories. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the state of religious freedom is worsening in the world:
“When it comes to this human right- this key feature of stable, secure, peaceful societies- the world is sliding backwards,” Clinton said.
While much of the publicity has focused on Egypt and Libya for obvious reasons, Secretary Clinton’s statement is particularly enlightening in that two of the primary countries called out in the report are Iraq and Afghanistan — whose governments have only survived because of the support of the United States and the sacrifices of its military.
In other words, religious freedom is suffering Continue reading
The US Army post at Fort Knox had apparently invited Ted Nugent, along with Styx and REO Speedwagon, to an event to be held on June 23rd. Following Ted Nugent’s recent foray into the spotlight for his comments at an NRA convention, his invite has been cancelled.
The reasoning for the cancellation:
A spokesman for Fort Knox told TheBlaze.com that having Nugent perform “would be a conflict of interest since the military has the obligation to be apolitical.”
The article, printed on MSNBC, notes that such a statement is tortured:
Such a claim, though, seems dubious Continue reading
Update: The Army defended its actions, with FoxNews saying it was a “cautionary move to preserve “military order and discipline,”" not censorship.
In a surprisingly underreported story, the US Army reportedly censored — and then admitted the wrong of censoring — US military Catholic chaplains during their performance of their Catholic Mass. Catholic priests were apparently given letters to read to their parishes explaining the Catholic opposition to the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring insurance coverage for things that violate Catholic beliefs.
On Thursday, January 26, Archbishop Broglio emailed a pastoral letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it be read from the pulpit at Sunday Masses the following weekend in all military chapels. The letter calls on Catholics to resist the policy initiative, recently affirmed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, for federally mandated health insurance covering sterilization, abortifacients and contraception, because it represents a violation of the freedom of religion recognized by the U.S. Constitution.
The US Army’s Chaplaincy office responded: Continue reading
By now most of the world is probably aware of the accusation that four US Marines urinated on corpses in what is apparently Afghanistan. One of the group videotaped the event for posterity.
The event brought out a slew of condemnations from all sides:
- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: “This conduct is entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military and does not reflect the standards of values our armed forces are sworn to uphold.”
- Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos: “wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos.”
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “It is absolutely inconsistent Continue reading
[US Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton noted that among the challenges facing LGBT people is “when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens…”
Secretary Clinton said Continue reading
According to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton’s new book, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, a member of then-President Bill Clinton’s administration floated the idea of allowing a U-2 to be shot down with the intent of starting a war. The plan?
what we really need in order to go in and take out Saddam is a precipitous event — something that would make us look good in the eyes of the world. Could you have one of our U-2s fly low enough — and slow enough — so as to guarantee that Saddam could shoot it down? Continue reading
According to a State Department press release, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will host an Iftar on September 7th. The meal breaks the Islamic day-long fast that is continuous for the month of Ramadan. The US Army has also supported Iftars in Iraq.
Meanwhile, separate official Army press releases, complete with graphic banners, announce the upcoming Jewish celebrations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The articles explain the meaning behind the holy days.
Religious freedom in America, and its military, at work.
The Time Magazine picture of the disfigured Afghan girl — reportedly the result of an attack by her husband — has justifiably raised the issue of the rights and status of women in Afghanistan. The logic seems reasonable; if Aisha had not been a woman, it is unlikely she would have been subject to such abuse. The “women’s rights” cause also fits with the common theme of some Western supporters — including some in America — of the Afghan war effort.
In an interesting contrast, the airwaves have been awash with condemnation of the attack that left 10 Christian aid workers dead in Afghanistan last week. Karl Eikenberry, US ambassador to Afghanistan, said this is a video statement: Continue reading
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo is chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the US Bishop’s conference has asked Congress not to approve language in the Defense Authorization Act that would permit US military facilities to conduct abortions.
The Cardinal noted that federal policies have prohibited military facilities from performing abortions since 1988, with the exception of 1993-1995 when Clinton overturned the policy (it was later re-instituted by Congress).
The Cardinal joined with military diocese Archbishop Broglio Continue reading
Several sites have already documented the decision by the Afghan government to “suspend” the activities of two Christian aid groups after allegations of “proselytizing.”
US-based Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid will not be allowed to operate while the allegations, aired Sunday on Afghan television, are investigated, said Mohammad Hashim Mayar, the deputy director of the Afghan government office that oversees nongovernment organizations, known as NGOs.
Mayar said officials did not have any evidence of proselytizing beyond the television report…
Proselytizing is illegal in Afghanistan, as it is in many Muslim countries. It is a hot-button issue for many Afghans sensitive to the influence of the scores of foreign aid groups operating in the country to help it recover from decades of war.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom is a bipartisan US government panel that issues an annual report on the American government’s support of religious freedom.
This year, the report indicates that the US government is becoming less concerned with “religious freedom in its foreign policy and national security decisions,” despite evidence of religious persecution around the globe.
In particular, the USCIRF took issue with the government’s recent semantic change that replaced “religious freedom” with Continue reading
In 1996, an Air Force chaplain urged his congregation to participate in the “Project Life Postcard Campaign,” an attempt by the Catholic Church to persuade Congress to overturn President Clinton’s veto of the partial-birth abortion ban. Military leadership believed that such actions constituted “political lobbying,” so chaplains were prohibited from encouraging their congregations to participate. With the assistance of the Becket Fund, the chaplain sued and won in District Court in April of 1997. [Becket Fund report]
In 1999, an Air Force lieutenant trained as a missileer asked that he not be placed on alert with an officer of the opposite gender. (This would require him to be in the cramped quarters of a missile control center for days at a time with only the company of the other officer.) Because he felt that the potential for temptation would affect his commitment to his wife, he sought relief under Department of Defense regulations requiring religious accommodation. Several commanders accommodated him; eventually, one revoked the accommodation and gave him an “unprofessional” rating on his OPR. Fearing the OPR would unjustly hinder his career, the lieutenant appealed to a records correction board to have the OPR amended; they partially edited the “unsubstantiated” statements on the OPR. Eventually, the lieutenant sued the Air Force with the assistance of the Becket Fund. A year later (2003), the Air Force settled and removed the OPR and all references to it from his records. [Becket Fund report]
In late 2005 Navy Lieutenant (Chaplain) Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a 1991 USAFA graduate, went on a hunger strike near the White House to protest an effort to have him removed from the military for insisting on praying “in Jesus’ Name.” He said he would maintain his hunger strike until the President signed an executive order codifying the chaplain’s right to pray in accordance with his beliefs. After 16 days, the chaplain ended his strike when his commander wrote a letter stating he was permitted to pray in Jesus’ Name while in uniform. [Klingenschmitt personal website]
Today, two Air Force officers–a chaplain and an F-16 fighter pilot–have joined the defense of an ongoing lawsuit that has pitted the Air Force against Michael Weinstein, a 1977 US Air Force Academy graduate who claimed that his son had experienced the fruits of proselytizing evangelical Christian cadets and officers. According to the Alliance Defense Fund, the two joined the Air Force defense because if Weinstein prevailed, “their ability to share their faith and to candidly discuss religion…would be in jeopardy.” The fighter pilot stated that he felt he had the “right to discuss my faith without censorship or fear of retribution.” [ADF Report]
In the face of public scrutiny of religion in its ranks, it appears the military is slowly distancing itself from religion. The initial Air Force religious guidelines told officers they could not use public expressions of faith, advocate a particular belief system, use “well-intentioned” expressions of belief, or have religious content in their emails. While the first revision of those guidelines softened those stances, the potential that the Air Force could one day become anti-Christian now seems possible. Christian officers must not only assess their actions in the light of regulations but also consider the court of public opinion. An otherwise permissible action could still conceivably result in a detrimental news headline, official complaint, or Congressional investigation; even if a Christian was “acquitted” after a complaint, would the cost—to his professional career or personal witness—be worth it? If even chaplains are investigated for religious offense, what is a Christian fighter pilot to do if he desires to have an active witness for Christ? Continue reading