US Army Master Sergeant Nathan Sommers made waves last year when he said he faced retribution from the Army for political bumper stickers, reading conservative political books, and serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his promotion party after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Those controversies apparently boiled over into what the Army called a substandard performance evaluation (which MSgt Sommers contested). The poor evaluation triggered a review of his continued enlistment, and he was recommended for discharge — even as his other appeals were still being processed. Since he was eligible to retire, he was essentially forced to do so.
Master Sergeant Nathan Sommers, a 25-year veteran of the military and a decorated soloist in the U.S. Army Band Chorus, claims he was forcibly retired from the Army due to his religious and conservative political beliefs.
Todd Starnes at FoxNews reports on the decision by a local National Guard armory not to be recognized at a local Vacation Bible School — because, they said, it would violate the military policies on religion. (The Washington Times and others subsequently picked up the story.)
Bible Baptist Church in Carthage…decided to honor the military during their annual Vacation Bible School. The theme was “God’s Rescue Squad.” And each day of the week, the church invited local “rescue squads” to visit with the boys and girls.
In what has become a recurring theme, atheists lobbying for a spot in the military chaplaincy misrepresented demographic data to support their cause. Again. The American Humanist Association — which is attempting to endorse the first atheist chaplain — equates the military category of “no religious preference” with “a secular values system.”
“23% of US military soldiers claim “no religious preference” thus indicating a secular values system”
Update: Jason Torpy, UCC endorser Stephen Boyd, and US Army Major Ryan Jean have announced their intentions to provide a briefing to Congress on the need for a humanist/atheist chaplain. Their announcement repeats the misleading fact that many in the military declare “no religious preference.”
US Rep John Fleming (R-La) again added an amendment to the annual Defense Appropriations bill that would prevent chaplains from being commissioned in the US military if they don’t have a proper endorsing agency. Because non-theists don’t have a religious endorsing agency required by military regulations, his bill has the effect of preventing atheists or humanists from becoming chaplains; Continue reading →
Gordon Klingenschmitt, the former Navy chaplain discharged over a controversy about “praying in Jesus’ Name,” has won the GOP primary for the US House of Representatives for the 15th District in Colorado.
Klingenschmitt expressed confidence in a November victory, as the district is heavily Republican — and also boasts a significant military population.
Klingenschmitt was also sued, unsuccessfully, by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and his wife, Bonnie, over “imprecatory prayers.” Klingenschmitt sued the Weinsteins in return, claiming abuse of process and defamation. His suit survived dismissal last January, with the defamation claim being allowed to proceed.
US Army Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson was recently profiled (at The Root, a website for “African-American influencers”) as an example of diversity in the US military, given her position as the “most senior-ranking black woman” in the military made her an indicator of the “color of change.”
While there are often many criticisms regarding the practice of highlighting “differences” in a world that is supposedly blind to such differences, Gen Anderson did make one comment that is valuable in discussions about being an example to others [emphasis added]: Continue reading →
Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana Republican, criticized the military for appearing “zealous to shut down expressions of faith.”
“This is our military telling service members to raise their hands and ask permission before they dare to utter an expression of faith,” Mr. Fleming said during a speech at the Family Research Council.
Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund noted that Congress had twice passed laws requiring the US military to “be more accommodating to religious beliefs and practices,” laws Continue reading →
Late last month, James and Welsh convened a “Religious Freedom Focus Day” conference of senior chaplains and legal and manpower officials to discuss the policy. An Air Force spokeswoman, Rose Richeson, declined to make the results of the April 28 meeting public, saying it would be “too premature to provide an interview.”
It would seem, though, someone may have heard what occurred:
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council…said that based on what he’d heard from people at the meeting he expected the Air Force to “make a policy change shortly.”
The article says Perkins’ statement “alarms supporters of the policy,” and cites exactly one person: Michael “Mikey” Weinstein. The policy Continue reading →
A member of the Virginia Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Squadron, Wilson hasn’t been permitted to fly the jet since early 2012. He’s fighting disciplinary actions that he sees as retribution for going public.
Wilson has reportedly had his promotion revoked, been prohibited from serving in a full-time position with ACC, and told he would face an FEB — a flying evaluation board that would likely take away his wings.
The changes have been criticized by almost everyone, including Congress, religious liberty advocates, and even religious groups who might benefit from grooming or uniform wear waivers. The policies do not expressly address religious expression, and the waivers they allow are temporary and subject to the whim of local commanders, according to some sources.
The US military recently revealed that two applicants have been denied waivers under the new policy.
The 2014 National Day of Prayer was already marginally controversial because of the US military’s decision to allow uniformed servicemembers to attend at the request of Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Al).
There were largely only two stories that came out of the event: Dr. James Dobson called President Obama the “abortion president,” and Rep Janice Hahn (D-Ca) walked out.
When the DoD declined to respond to Weinstein’s letter demanding they withdraw participation from the National Day of Prayer held by Congress, he declined to make his normal vitriolic demands that the military would have to “tell it to the judge.” Instead, he threatened…more letters:
Weinstein [said] that “it is likely there will be more letters” sent to the Pentagon regarding their objection to the involvement of the Pentagon with the task force.
True to his word (this time) Weinstein wrote another (long) letter (PDF), claiming the National Day of Prayer event not only caused the DoD to violate the law, but also put Congress in violation of the law. Despite some concerted efforts on his part, the letter Continue reading →
Update: Congressman Lamborn’s potential political rivals reacted, with Republican Bentley Rayburn, a retired Major General and 1975 USAFA graduate, saying Lamborn hasn’t done enough to support religious freedom at USAFA, while Democrat Irv Halter, also a retired Major General and 1977 USAFA graduate, says Lamborn has gone too far.
Now, Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado (home to the US Air Force Academy) has written a letter signed by 22 other congressmen asking Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James to revise the policy at issue:
The August 2012 Air Force regulations which govern religious freedom and expression (AFI 1-1) are inconsistent with Congressional intent and current law…
The first issue Lamborn cites is the “undefinable” standard the Air Force uses [emphasis added]: Continue reading →
Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., suggested the Air Force has more work ahead to convince Congress that retiring the A-10 is a smart move.
“So for about $3.5 billion over the next five years, if [Congress] could find the money, could you afford to keep the A-10 on board?” Graham said.
Welsh said money wasn’t the only problem…
In an interesting twist, the US Army — which has traditionally been “accused” of wanting the A-10 and criticizing the Air Force for wanting to get rid of it — actually seems to be supportive of the decision: Continue reading →
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.”