The lengthy but thorough essay gives an excellent discussion on the issues of religious liberty, the law, the Constitution, and military policy.
There are growing numbers of persons and advocacy groups in the United States actively seeking to remove from public life — including in the armed services — virtually all symbols and expression of religion and America’s religious heritage by advocating strict separation of church and state. Many of these groups are already actively engaged in filing lawsuits against DOD and its leaders over various concerns about religious expression in the armed services… Continue reading →
This is an administration that has told servicemen and women that they cannot share their faith or risk discipline. This is an administration that has reprimanded an Air Force chaplain in Alaska for writing in a blog post “there are no atheists in foxholes.” Now, mind you, he was quoting President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, I might note, has some passing familiarity with the military…
“The Administration” can either be interpreted as a broad swath of people that includes the Secretary of Defense, or potentially a direct reference to the President.
In what appears to be a trend, a few atheist members of the US military seem to have taken on a “militant” practice of their faith — by aggressively going after their fellow religious troops.
In May 2012, Army Sgt Justin Griffith led his “internet atheists” against a prayer event hosted by the families of his fellow Fort Bragg Soldiers — while those families’ Soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan.
In August 2013, Captain Sara Sharick — an Army recruiter — indicated she might use her Army position to try to steer a potential recruit away from his school of choice, Christian-founded Liberty University, because it was home to “the crazies.”
Later in August, Daniel Smith — a civilian commissary store director — claimed the presence of Gideon Bibles in Air Force Inns was unconstitutional. He lodged complaints with the intent of removing those Bibles, so traveling active duty Airmen wouldn’t have access to them.
Now, another incident from earlier this year has recently come to light.
It seems another Army atheist took issue with his fellow Soldiers and their families Continue reading →
As previously noted, the House resolution to allow military chaplains to serve their congregations — rather than ban them from chapels during the congressional impasse — was proposed by Rep Doug Collins (R-Ga). It was passed in a 400-1 vote. The lone opponent: Rep William Enyart (D-Il).
Rep Collins is a current Air Force Reserve chaplain with a rank of Major.
Rep Enyart is a retired Major General in the National Guard.
Critics had claimed this would end the presence of the Bibles altogether; the Air Force disagreed, but Torpy agreed — and that is what he wanted, as he called the Bibles Christian “privilege.”
It seems the original complaint came not from a member of the military but from civilian Daniel Smith, the Store Director for the Navy Commissary in Yokosuka, Japan. He recently complained — again — because there were shockingly still Bibles available to Air Force lodging patrons:
What was it the AF training was trying to describe?
The following text describes how the EO course inadvertenty describes many character traits that Weinstein displays. While most won’t be interested in such a character analysis, the reason for noting this is to highlight the fact that Michael Weinstein is no run-of-the-mill “religious freedom” advocate, despite his claims. He is, as the course material shows, a religious “extremist” intent on bending the US military to his will — even if it contradicts human liberty and the protections of the US Constitution…and an Air Force training course actually helps explain that.
Quoting from Nazis, communists, Klansmen, and others on the fringe: Political extremism in America by George and Wilcox (1992), the Air Force Equal Opportunity Continue reading →
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty produced a video to explain some of the history of the memorial — history the FFRF calls a conspiracy. Meet Gene Thomas, a member of the Knights of Columbus, one of the men who has been caring for the memorial for 40 years.
The group argues the statue violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on Congress making any law regarding an establishment of religion.
The original court ruling had cited the historic value of the statue, and even made a point of saying the statue was more of a tourist attraction than religious monument. The FFRF apparently thinks that’s all part of a conspiracy: Continue reading →
With noticeably no publicity, the article was quietly reinstated last week. (The article by Chaplain (LtCol) Kenneth Reyes can now be read here.) Col Brian Duffy, with “higher headquarters consultation,” issued the following statement:
Arctic Warriors, our “Chaplain’s Corner” will return and be accessible from our JBER Official Web Page…. Commentaries presented are designed to enhance the spiritual resilience and wellness of our community of Active Duty, DoD civilians, family members and retirees as part of the Air Force and Army Comprehensive Fitness programs.
With a few recent controversies over US troops making (or being prohibited from making) religious statements, a common thread has found its way into a few responses that demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the US Constitution.
These comments were along the lines of “if he worked for a private company [the soldier] would be fired” for making a religious statement, or this one from an MRFF supporter:
This is so ironic: A civilian employer can monitor and repress “free speech” in the workplace, yet the military…is supposed to let these Talicrisps (fundamentalist christians with fried brains) just rant freely…
For those who haven’t read the Constitution lately, the US Constitution prevents the government from restricting the rights of its citizens. The Constitution does not restrict a private citizen from restricting the rights of another citizen.
Skip Ash, the senior litigation counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, has stated that in its effort to appease Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, the Air Force actually committed the very violation it thought it was trying to avoid:
Despite the MRFF rantings, the chaplain committed no violation of the U.S. Constitution, federal law or military regulations by what he did. It was the commander at the base and his staff who actually wronged the chaplain by buying into the MRFF’s skewed view of what the Constitution and military regulations require. The commander was wrong.
Jennifer Erickson, an academy spokeswoman, said in an email that the Naval Academy Chapel is a religious venue that has been used for Protestant and Catholic services since its dedication in 1908.
“The chapel contains permanent Christian architectural features that make it inappropriate for non-Christian or non-religious wedding ceremonies,” Erickson wrote in response to questions about the request. “For requests involving non-Christian and non-religious wedding ceremonies, the Naval Academy offers alternative venues, such as the non-denominational chapel and the Naval Academy Club.”
Because the Christian chapel has unmatched “grandeur” — including the crypt of famed seaman John Paul Jones — the humanists complain that nothing else will do. The non-theists apparently admire theistic architecture.
Ever since US Rep Jared Polis (D-Co) tried to specifically authorize atheist chaplains in the US military there has been one misrepresentation after another over what the government is “required” to do, or what atheist troops even want.
The most interesting argument is that Congress cannot require a Chaplain to be “religious” because of the Constitution’s prohibition on “no religious test” for public office. It’s a bit pedantic, but at least you can see the (attempted) logic of the argument. (Given the language and reasoning of George Washington’s creation of the military chaplaincy, and even Congress’s own centuries-old chaplaincy, it is unlikely that such semantic gymnastics were their intent.)