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.
Last year Michael “Mikey” Weinstein threatened to sue the US Army because it exposed a group of Soldiers to a chaplain’s prayer, which the chaplain closed with
through Your holy name…
In response, Weinstein demanded the chaplain be disciplined and the Soldiers be given an apology. Weinstein threatened an “aggressive” Federal lawsuit (as opposed to a benign lawsuit, apparently) if the Army refused his demands.
To be clear, Weinstein was willing to sue because a chaplain said “through Your holy name” during a prayer to a group of Soldiers in an auditorium.
Based on events just this week, will Weinstein threaten to sue again?
On Monday, US Army Chief of Chaplains (MajGen) Donald Rutherford prayed in uniform and on national television — and, shockingly, closed with…”in Your holy name.” Just Continue reading →
Senior defense leader says the US military leads in social change…
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Rosemary Freitas Williams was the keynote speaker for the American Military Partner Association’s “inaugural gala.” The AMPA is a homosexual advocacy that has lobbied for “homosexual rights” — and, more recently, those of “transgenders.”
Williams wholeheartedly endorsed the AMPA’s advocacy for homosexuality in the US military [emphasis added]: Continue reading →
US Rep Sam Johnson (R-Tx), a Vietnam era Air Force fighter pilot, wrote at the Christian Post that attacks on religious liberty in the United States “resemble my time in the Hanoi Hilton.”
You see, I endured painful torture at the hands of communists. I brutally experienced what it’s like to truly lose the privilege to worship as you see fit. As a prisoner of war in Vietnam for almost seven years, more than half of that time in solitary confinement, I withered away in a cellblock so isolating it could only be called Alcatraz.
A petition sponsored by the Family Research Council and the Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition garnered more than 100,000 signatures before it was delivered to the US Air Force Academy last week.
The petition seems nobly intended:
The petition calls on the Air Force Academy to protect the First Amendment rights of cadets, after a recent incident in which a cadet was censored for writing a Bible verse on a white board outside of his dorm room.
and its text calls for USAFA to “protect the religious expression” of cadets:
Recently, a handwritten Bible verse on a United States Air Force Academy cadet’s dry-erase board was removed after a complaint by an anti-Christian activist group…As an American, I trust the Air Force Academy to train up the best young men and women our nation has to offer…Part of that trust hinges upon the notion that the Academy would protect the religious freedom Continue reading →
As reported at FoxNews, the union representing civilian employees at Eglin Air Force Base demanded the removal of two “senior management officials” because they displayed “I Support Phil” stickers.
Alan Cooper, the executive vice president of the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, said one of the officials also displayed the “I Support Phil” decals in his office last month and offered them to subordinates.
“The BUE (bargaining union employee) was clearly offended and disgusted that a senior management official would display 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 →
John Ragosta, Paul Finkelman and Steven K. Green, “legal scholars and historians who participated as amicus” in the recent Greece prayer case at the Supreme Court, struggled to understand what the Supreme Court intended to mean by its ruling:
The court fails, though, to explain what this means, an issue that the dissent takes up. Should prayers occur before the public is invited into the room? Should prayers be directed only at the board? Should the members themselves take turns invoking prayers, making it clear that they are personal and not “official” prayers?
Dr. Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dr. Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, both recently wrote fascinating pieces on the recent Supreme Court decision permitting “sectarian” prayer before legislative bodies. While he makes many good points, Mohler astutely highlights, and Moore focused entirely upon, one point that affects even the US military: calls from some that public prayers — for example, those in front of a military formation — must be “generic.”
The second very important argument made by Justice Kennedy is even more perceptive and, in the long run, more important. He asserted that the government has no competence under the Constitution to evaluate prayers in terms of content. Specifically, he said that the Establishment Clause actually would prevent the government from determining the content of any prayer — especially in terms of some supposed standard of nonsectarianism.
Put bluntly, government has no right to declare that the only God welcome in public is a “generic God.” That is a profoundly important constitutional argument…
Retired USAF MajGen Bentley Rayburn, potential competition for sitting US Rep Doug Lamborn, recently said Congressman Lamborn wasn’t doing enough for religious freedom in the Air Force. He wrote a guest column in the Colorado Springs Gazette, local to USAFA, giving his take on recent controversies:
Nobody can state with a straight face that the act of posting a Bible verse on a white board infringes or damages anyone else’s constitutionally protected individual rights…
Air Force Instruction 1-1 para 2-12 is without equivocation in stating that Airmen “should confidently practice [their] own beliefs while respecting others whose viewpoints differ from your own…”
To walk away from creating a culture at the Air Force Academy where ideas are expressed, debated, defended and strengthened is to make it a third-rate school, hardly deserving to be called a real university.
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 →
A series of locally produced public affairs articles by the DoD have tried to encourage troops to use ‘better judgment’ when it comes to social media — following a spate of ‘scandals’ in which US troops have brought less than positive attention to the military. One was an old photo of an Airman ‘kissing’ a POW/MIA painting; another, an Airman who flaunted avoiding saluting during retreat. Others have included irreverent photos of training for Honor Guard details — which included the sensitive images of flag-draped caskets.
The articles have taken the same general, and generally unhelpful, tone: ‘Please be careful’ — but offering little else in terms of specific guidance. In fact, the authors — generally young military Public Affairs officers — often venture into the untenable. Quoting a local Med Group First Sergeant, one said:
Before posting something, think, ‘Would my base commander approve of this post if it made it onto [a television channel]?’