Tag Archives: Constitution

Congressmen Seek Army Review over Chaplain’s Punishment

Twenty four members of Congress wrote a letter (PDF) to Secretary of the Army John McHugh questioning the circumstances surrounding the Letter of Concern given to Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn.

While the Army has maintained that Chaplain Lawhorn wasn’t “punished” (and therefore there is apparently nothing to discuss), the Congressmen communicated their concerns that even the “administrative action” was chilling to rights protected under the law and Constitution:

We believe this administrative action sets a dangerous precedent for Army suicide prevention initiatives, the role of Army chaplains, and most importantly, the ability for service members to exercise and express religious beliefs, as protected under the First Amendment and reinforced by current law and DoD regulations.

The letter also raises concerns that the action Continue reading

Commanding General Installs New “Iron Shepherd”

Gen Stephen Twitty, commanding General of the US Army’s 1st Armored Division, recently participated in a ceremony marking the “passing of the stole” from one Chaplain to another:

The 1st Armored Division sent off Lt. Col. Karen L. Meeker, outgoing 1st Armored Division chaplain and welcomed Lt. Col. Thomas S. Helms III as the new 1st AD chaplain during the Division’s Passing of the Stole ceremony here…

Helms assumed the spiritual leadership and pastoral care for the entire division when Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty, 1st AD and Fort Bliss commanding general, removed the division stole from Meeker and placed it on Helms shoulders.

The 1AD is known as “Old Ironsides,” so its chaplain is the “Iron Shepherd.”

Chaplain Helms looked to Continue reading

MRFF Claims US Army Validated Violation of Constitution

Over the years, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has demonstrated that he is fairly adept at public relations, though he has stumbled a few times. (For example, he failed to rebut accusations he was “cashing in” on donations last year, and he more recently failed to support his claims of his White House duties.)  Contributing to his public relations “victories” have been the public relations shortcomings of his primary foe, the US military.  In many cases, the US military has allowed Weinstein to shape the narrative — an opening of which he has taken full advantage.

Weinstein recently claimed that a US Army recruiting poster that said “On a Mission for God and Country” was

  • an “unconstitutional disgrace,”
  • an “unconstitutional catastrophe,” and
  • a “stinking poster of unconstitutional malfeasance.”

Ultimately, the Army told the recruiters to remove the poster, said publicly the poster hadn’t gone through the proper processes, and indicated Continue reading

City Settles Lawsuit, Removes Iconic Cross Statue

The city of King, NC, paid Americans United for the Separation of Church and State $500,000 and agreed to remove the iconic image of a soldier kneeling at a cross-shaped headstone, ending a lawsuit filed in 2012.

The city council voted 3-2 to settle.

“I feel this city has been sabotaged and bullied Continue reading

Religious Freedom Day, 16 January 2015

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. President Obama has not yet issued his proclamation this year but will likely do so today.

Jefferson’s statute continues to be a strong expression for the value of religious liberty even today. Though the statute has been discussed in many places and in great depth, there are two important points to take from the statute. First, Continue reading

Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Fired for Religious Views

Update: Dr. Al Mohler makes the same argument as below, saying

We are now witnessing a direct and unavoidable collision between religious liberty with what is rightly defined as erotic liberty — a liberty claimed on the basis of sexual identity and activity. Religious liberty is officially recognized in the Bill of Rights — even in the very first amendment — and the framers of the American order did not claim to have established this right to free religious expression, but to have recognized it as a pre-existent right basic to citizenship.

Erotic liberty is new on the scene, but it is central to the moral project of modernity — a project that asserts erotic liberty, which the framers never imagined, as an even more fundamental liberty than freedom of religion.


FoxNews broke the story of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was recently fired after he wrote a book on Biblical morality for his men’s group at church — which had a half-page on homosexuality some activists found offensive.

Despite the fact only the expression of his beliefs got him fired, Atlanta council member Alex Wan — who is homosexual — said he

support[ed] Cochran’s termination and said it “sends a strong message to employees about how much we value diversity and how we adhere to a non-discriminatory environment.”

So, a person who was not discriminating against anyone was discriminated against in order to provide a non-discriminatory environment?  One wonders if councilman Wan knows what the word “discrimination” really means.

Georgia Equality, a homosexual activist group, also Continue reading

Mikey Weinstein’s Words, Actions, and Religious Freedom

We think — and the Constitution and Supreme Court caselaw supports us — that the right of the men and women in our armed forces to their personal choice, the right to their personal belief, the right to their religious or non-religious preference, cannot be abrogated by the government, by their superior officers, or by the Pentagon.

That sounds like a statement most could agree with — and those words come from MRFF board member Mike Farrell in their annual end-of-year fundraising letter.

Regrettably, the actions of Farrell’s boss, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, contradict his noble words.  Contrary to Farrell’s gilded semantics, Weinstein has attacked the personal faiths of Christian chaplains and troops — even going so far as to attack Christian chapel services — in what can only be described as an attempt to deny “the men and women in our armed forces” their religious liberties through the force of government.

More tellingly, Weinstein — a Continue reading

Army Rescinds ROTC Instructor Faith Restrictions

While saying the move was unrelated to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s complaint a few weeks ago, the US Army “removed all university preferences from [its] assignment postings.”

In other words, the text “must be of Christian faith” will no longer appear next to Army staff assignments to Wheaton College.

This was previously discussed at length. While Weinstein called it a “HUGE MRFF Victory” [emphasis original], it Continue reading

SecDef: Exercise the Freedoms You Protect (Video)

A few months ago Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel encouraged US troops to vote, noting

For Americans serving in uniform, voting is more than a civic responsibility. It’s about exercising the rights you’ve sworn to defend.

It’s encouraging to see senior leaders call on troops to exercise the rights they’ve promised their very lives to defend. Notably, the right to free exercise of religion is Continue reading

Punished Chaplain Requests Accommodation, Gets Support

Below:

  • Jewish Endorser Backs Punished Christian Chaplain
  • Chaplain Lawhorn Requests Religious Accommodation
  • Commander Denies Request to Rescind Letter of Concern
  • Atheist Soldier Derides Christian Faith

Jewish Endorser Backs Punished Christian Chaplain

Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim, a Jewish endorsing agent for US military chaplains, has publicly backed US Army Chaplain (Capt) Joseph Lawhorn — a Christian chaplain punished for sharing his personal story of how faith enabled him to weather depression [emphasis added]:

[YPS] believe[s] the Letter of Concern is inappropriate and will have negative consequences on all military chaplains…

YPS supports the right Continue reading

Chris Rodda Criticizes USAF Band Because ISIS

It didn’t take too long for Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s research assistant, Chris Rodda, to pen a diatribe criticizing the US Air Force Band’s “flash mob” kick-off to the Christmas season. As is her typical style, she wrote an 800 word passive-aggressive narrative without ever really saying why she was writing it, other than a vague objection to “religiosity” on the part of the Air Force.

Near the end, though, she finally cut to the chase:

I’ll bet there are some Islamic extremists out there who are also being quite “inspired” by these viral videos of mobs of uniformed U.S. military personnel belting out lines like “Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!,” “Joy to the world! the Savior reigns,” and “This, this is Christ the king!”

Way to go, U.S. Air Force Band!

Ah! So the MRFF thinks that if Islamic extremists will hate America Continue reading

Sailors in Bahrain Celebrate Christmas without Christ

While recent changes in Air Force regulations and a favorable congressional hearing have given some groups a positive perception of the direction of religious liberty in the US military, it is worth noting that even that trend isn’t universal, and it hasn’t reversed some of the damage done over the past few years.

Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain recently kicked off the holiday season with its traditional tree lighting — absent one of its longstanding traditions. In 2012, Jason Torpy — an atheist and former Army officer — single-handedly persuaded the US Navy to ban a children’s “live Nativity” from the tree lighting ceremony.

The reason? According to Torpy, the kids

threaten[ed] US security and violat[ed] the Constitution.

It was probably “easier” for the Navy to surrender to Torpy and remove the children’s event rather than try to defend it for its positive value. Thus, plastic baby Jesus Continue reading

Army: Chaplain’s LOC Not Punishment

Update: Chaplain Lawhorn’s attorney responds to the Army characterization here, and Chaplain Lawhorn says

As is the case with every endeavor or circumstance in my life, my ultimate intention will be to bring honor to God. To that end, I will be praying and pursuing as this case and these circumstances continue to evolve.


The Army responded to the outcry over the story of US Army Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn being punished for sharing his personal story of battling with depression by saying he wasn’t, in fact, punished:

Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, [said] in a statement on Friday: “A local letter of concern is not punishment. Rather, it is an administrative counseling tool, with no long-term consequences.”

So the Army is saying that an officer was ordered to report in to his boss’s boss, was told he was violating US Army regulations, and was told his personnel record would reflect this adverse response — but he wasn’t being punished?

Whether it is “punishment” within the military lexicon is ultimately irrelevant. The Army officially responded negatively to a chaplain only because an atheist complained that the chaplain said something religious — even when there was nothing wrong with him saying something religious. The chaplain’s lawyer maintains the official negative response is inconsistent with military regulations and the US Constitution — charges to which the Army has not yet responded.

The chaplain’s ecclesiastical endorser has likewise asked the commander to rescind the letter.

Army Punishes Chaplain for Mentioning Faith

Update: Chaplain Lawhorn’s initial LOC is now available, and, as reported, it hinges entirely on (subsequently rescinded) violations of two regulations — and this interesting justification:

As a result, an individual in attendance wrote an article about the event on http://militaryatheists.org.

It would be interesting to see the Army cite a regulation that supports action against a Soldier because “a person wrote an accusation on the internet…”


Update: Now covered at the Army Times, the Christian Post, the Gospel Herald, the Daily Caller, and Opposing Views.  Atheist Jason Torpy responded to the “evangelical backlash” over his accusations against the Army.


The Liberty Institute is now representing a chaplain who was punished by the US Army for mentioning his faith during a unit training day:

On November 20, 2014, Chaplain Lawhorn conducted suicide prevention training [in which he] discussed his own personal struggles and how he used the Bible to successfully combat his depression. One of the soldiers in attendance complained to an atheist group about Chaplain Lawhorn’s presentation. In response…Colonel David G. Fivecoat, issued Chaplain Lawhorn a Letter of Concern alleging that Chaplain Lawhorn “advocated for…Christianity and used Christian scripture and solutions” and therefore violated Army regulations.

The complaint was shepherded by atheist and former Army Captain Jason Torpy, who published the complaint online 24 hours after the event — meaning it was public even before the Army had a chance to respond.  The Army may also have been influenced by the publication of the “scandal.”

In a seeming admission the commander might have gone too far, Col Fivecoat apparently called Army Chaplain (Capt) Joseph Lawhorn back Continue reading

Wheaton ROTC Under Review for Christian Requirement

Wheaton College — an unabashedly Christian university — has had an ROTC program since a few years after the close of World War II. Wheaton requires its faculty to be of the Christian faith, a requirement also levied upon its ROTC instructor, as the instructor is considered to be a member of the Wheaton faculty (though they are paid by the US military, not the school).

When the position of ROTC instructor was recently advertised among Army officers, the “must be of Christian faith” requirement caught the attention of a Soldier who pointed it out to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF.  Weinstein was typically unmoved [emphasis added]:

Wheaton and its fundamentalist Christian ROTC unit are to the United States Constitution what a dog with a full bladder Continue reading