Update: The recent articles reference complaints filed this past summer by UNG’s “Students for Secular Freedom.” For background, Cadet David Gormley started a Change.org petition on April 27th calling for “Remov[ing] Christian Prayers From School Sponsored Events.” This was apparently the day of UNG’s Memorial Retreat, according to a video uploaded to YouTube by Gormley but attributed to another student, Saara Wintersgill. (Wintersgill is credited on another video from another ceremony the same weekend.) UNG’s SSF subsequently advertised the petition on Reddit, saying a “U.S. Public College Forces Sectarian Prayer on Cadets.” An atheist posting of the controversy in April generated some interesting comments on both sides of the debate. The SSF apparently has crossover with UNG’s “Skeptics Society,” for which Gormley and Wintersgill are listed as officers. Wintersgill has previously published articles at the student paper on the activities of her group.
In an interesting twist to an old tale, Allen West — a retired Army LtCol and former Florida Representative — compared the “covert action of atheist groups” in the United States to the militant attacks by the terrorist group ISIS in Syria and Iraq:
What is the difference between the violent actions of ISIS and the covert actions of these atheist groups? Let’s be honest, the desired end state and result is the same — the death of Christianity.
As first reported by the American Family Association, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint with the US Navy because there were Gideon Bibles in the nightstands at Navy lodging facilities.
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.
A report at FoxNews highlights a message from US Army Col. Kevin Glasz, brigade commander of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, regarding respect for Islam during Ramadan:
“This is a period of great personal restraint and commitment in addition to renewed focus on worship,” Brigade Commander Col. Kevin Glasz wrote. “I’d like to encourage you to learn just a little more about this religion, but more importantly, I’m asking you to be considerate and do not consume food or drink in front of our Muslim colleagues; it is a simple, yet respectful action.”
In contrast from policies governing US military personnel in Bahrain, which was highlighted here last month, the USUHS is in Maryland, and there are no laws in Maryland governing Ramadan.
Optimistically viewed, it is just a supportive statement from the military to help others respect the faiths of those around them. But as an anonymous Marine officer is quoted in pointing out, this kind of “supportive statement” is only used in reference to Islam: Continue reading →
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…