Today is the National Day of Prayer. President Obama issued his proclamation, saying in part
All of us have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Our laws protect these God-given liberties, and rightly so. Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship.
If you’re not the “right kind” of Christian while you serve in the US military, it seems Michael Weinstein — frequent critic of religious freedom in the US military – really doesn’t like you so much — and he apparently wants the government to come after you [formatting original]:
The forced imposition of fundamentalist Christianity throughout our American armed forces is the perpetual “flavor of the day,” and has been for decades [sic]…
[There is] continual, systemic proselytizing among United States military personnel. This brainwashing results in widespread, brutal stigmatizing of those opposed or indifferent to fundamentalist Christian doctrine–a savage trampling of their Constitutional rights!…
How…does allowing this utterly reprehensible nonsense to continue not produce a greater threat than the handful of neo-Nazis still Continue reading →
Saeed Abedini, 32, was in Iran last summer to finish building an orphanage when members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard took him away in a bus for prison. He has been held captive and reportedly beaten and tortured since September.
Since former cadet (and current MRFF “client”) Blake Page made his awkward public departure from West Point over “criminal” Christianity, there has been a simmering of the issue of prayer at the US Military Academy. For the most part, the only loud voices were critics who want to see West Point end public prayers.
The Alliance Defending Freedom just recently weighed in, encouraging West Point to stand firm in the face of criticism and honor both its legacy and religious freedom. The ADF’s David Hacker said
“The First Amendment allows public officials to acknowledge our nation’s religious heritage,” he notes. “Anti-religious groups with misguided ideas about the First Amendment should not be allowed to destroy a time-honored, perfectly constitutional American custom.”
Each year since 1993 the President has declared January 16th to be “Religious Freedom Day,” in order to remember the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (see 2009). President Obama has not yet issued his proclamation this year but will likely do so today [Update: Now here]. CitizenLink, associated with Focus on the Family, noted an irony in the forthcoming Presidential proclamation while the Administration is being sued — for impinging upon religious freedom.
Jefferson’s statute continues to be a strong expression for the value of Continue reading →
While it potentially raises more questions than it provides answers, a Wall Street Journal opinion piece does a reasonable job of trying to present a balanced portrait of religion in the US military as it pertains to the requirements of the Constitution.
Isn’t it a First Amendment-violating “establishment of religion” for the military to appoint religious officials? No, it isn’t…The chaplains exist not for the military or the government generally, but to give military men and women access to their religion.
The problem is how to achieve this objective without creating an environment that seems to associate the military with particular religious views…
Although military personnel can’t be forced to muffle their religious beliefs, courts have long given the military more flexibility than other employers to regulate freedom of expression. The military can therefore discourage officers from expressing their faith in ways that create pressure on their subordinates…
Author David Skeel, a University of Pennsylvania Law School professor, even grants the military might be a model for society in its handling of religious freedom: Continue reading →
In a letter to Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon and other officials, Americans United asserted that the academy’s prayer policy runs afoul of the Constitution and violates the rights of cadets.
West Point responded simply by saying there are no mandatory prayers at the Academy. Americans United seems to believe the First Amendment was written to protect offended ears, not speech. Their letter supports — unwittingly or not – the stereotype that merely being exposed to a ‘religious act’ is offensive and therefore illegal [emphasis added]: Continue reading →
Airmen from Yokota Air Base, Japan, were joined by the University of Guam, the local community and charitable organizations to provide more than 39,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to islanders during Operation Christmas Drop Dec. 11 to 18.
A commenter on AF.mil site sarcastically noted it is only a matter of time before someone complains about the name of the operation hiding an attempt to conver the locals…
The Stars and Stripes had a few more details, including the Operation’s use of condemned Air Force parachutes, and the unfortunate consequences of using a chute that’s too small.
Former Army Captain and current atheist Jason Torpy was working overtime doing damage control over the past week, as various outlets picked up the story of his complaint over the “live nativity” occurring during NSA Bahrain’s annual “Holiday Tree Lighting.” His comments appeared on a variety of sites covering the controversy; in each case, he basically said he didn’t demand NSA Bahrain cancel it — he just called it “unconstitutional” and a danger to US troops — that’s all. Of course, he did say that cancelling it was “preferable to” letting it happen:
If the scene had to be cancelled, that is unfortunate but it is also preferable to the government-sponsored proselytism [*See note, below] the Live Nativity would have added to an otherwise positive celebration.
FoxNews accurately reported that Torpy’s complaint to the Inspector General led to the cancellation of the event to occur during Continue reading →
“A lot of people told me I couldn’t be both a Marine and a missionary,” [LCpl Brady] Knowles said before he left for the LDS Church’s Indianapolis Mission last year. “But when I talked to the Marine recruiters and told them I was going to serve a mission, they told me it could be worked out. And it was.”
The feast’s origins come from the story of Abraham heading up a mountain to sacrifice his son, but his son’s life was spared by God’s provision of a ram. In a spirit of thankfulness during this festival, animals are sacrificed and the meat divided into portions — some being kept by the family, and the rest given away to the poor.
The unit’s commander noted the troops’ desire to participate in the religious festival, despite the fact they weren’t Muslims: Continue reading →
Army’s keystone manual for detailing fundamental principles of comprehensive religious support.
Much of the 40-page manual is little more than logistics and structural guidance on how chaplains and religious support are to be integrated into Army operations. That the Army felt the need to publish such a document, however, is one indicator of the high value it places on such religious support.
The manual begins with an introduction on the history and importance of chaplains:
Chaplains have served in the U.S. Army since the first days of the American Revolution and many have died in combat. These chaplains represented more than 120 separate denominations and faith Continue reading →
It seems fair to say that the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force does not trust some of his Commanders to correctly fulfill their responsibilities to “support individual Airman’s needs and provide opportunities for the free exercise of religion.” So, he has withdrawn autonomy from all of his Commanders to do so, turning it over to their Chaplains.
Snider accurately notes that this singles out issues of religion for separation from command guidance: Continue reading →