Tag Archives: Constitution

Guantanamo Nativities Moved after Weinstein Complains

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein targeted two Nativities erected on Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

A pair of Nativity scenes, one in the dining room for prison camp guards, are apparently causing a bit of a stir among a few troops at this remote outpost…

Ironically, Weinstein’s own letter undermined his cause, when one of an anonymous 18 complainants wrote [emphasis added]:

When they finally have time to relax with their military family they should not have to feel uncomfortable, out of place, or insignificant because their beliefs are not represented.

So its not about the presence of the Nativity, but the absence of other beliefs? Odd thing is, no one has complained that GTMO prohibited other displays, though its unclear what other belief systems celebrate Christmas. (GTMO residents say the base has been fairly public about several holidays, including Ramadan and Hanukkah.)

Weinstein, a former lawyer, called the displays “wholly Continue reading

2014 NDAA Strengthens Religious Liberty, Raises Mikey Weinstein Concerns

The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that came out of the congressional conference committee last week strengthens language protecting religious liberty in the US military — and implicitly scolds the Department of Defense for not implementing such guidance already.

The House has already passed the new bill.  In short, if the Senate passes the bill and President Obama signs it, which seems to be expected (excepting the new controversy over retiree benefits), the Department of Defense will be required to accommodate not merely belief, but also expressions of belief, to the extent that it does not adversely affect the mission. The Act amends Section 533 of the last NDAA to read [changes emphasized]:

Unless it could have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline, the Armed Forces shall accommodate individual expressions of belief of a member of the armed forces reflecting the sincerely held conscience, moral Continue reading

Shaw AFB Restores Nativity at Base Chapel

Does it pass the Air Force common sense test that a Nativity is officially removed because no one else wants to put up another display alongside it?

In an event that drew national attention — including from the US Congress — Shaw Air Force Base erected a plastic figurine Nativity in front of the base’s Palmetto Chapel. As predicted, it was placed in its traditional location from years past:  Continue reading

Shaw AFB Statement on Nativity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NATIVITY SCENE AT SHAW AFB

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. – Last week a group of volunteers set up a nativity scene near Memorial Lake. All faith-based and secular groups were offered an opportunity to put up holiday displays; however, only one group elected to do so resulting in the nativity scene being the sole display.

Based on only one faith group being represented, 20th Fighter Wing officials determined the appropriate course of action was to celebrate the holiday season consistently and elected to remove the nativity scene from Memorial Lake. In previous years, the nativity scene had been displayed on the grounds of the base chapel. All faith-based and secular groups wishing to place a holiday display on the grounds of the chapel this year are encouraged to coordinate with the Shaw chaplain staff.

So, if Christians want to put up a display, they are allowed to do so only if they create one from another faith?

There’s an interesting discussion here about the difference between equal opportunity and equal outcome.

Shaw AFB Tries to Articulate Nativity Policy

Following the revelation that Shaw Air Force Base had removed a Nativity scene immediately following Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s request, public outcry has left the Air Force “mulling” how to respond to the other side of the issue — those who view such a move as both unconstitutional and a questionably inappropriate relationship with Weinstein.

Though Weinstein was able to get action from the Air Force in “two hours and 15 minutes,” other normal Americans and a few reporters had trouble even getting a statement — which inspired Fox News columnist Todd Starnes to publish the (publicly available) phone numbers and emails of Shaw Public Affairs to see if others would have more success (they didn’t). This may be because most people did try to go through Public Affairs — while Weinstein had managed to get connected through the Base Command Post. (In what is unlikely a coincidence, Shaw AFB removed their Command Post phone number from their website yesterday.)

Shaw has subsequently clarified the situation, noting that a Shaw AFB chapel congregation put the Nativity up next to the Base Christmas tree, which Continue reading

Mikey Weinstein Targets Military Christmas. Again.

FoxNews reports that last Friday Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s “charity” once again attacked the Air Force for erecting a Nativity scene on an Air Force Base. Two years ago, it was Travis AFB in California. This year, they targeted Shaw AFB, SC:

The MRFF’s Paul Loebe wrote in a statement that since the display was not erected near a chapel, it was illegal.

“It was very sectarian in nature and a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution as well as a blatant violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.11,” he said.

Weinstein presumably called the office of LtGen Richard Harding, The JAG of the Air Force, and getting no relief there, called Shaw AFB via their Command Post.

Most civilians who call an Air Force base will probably be directed to Public Affairs, because it is the job of PA to help military commanders interact with the public and ensure the correct message is conveyed. Weinstein was transferred to the Commander’s office, where an “office assistant” reportedly spoke for the Air Force. The assistant told Weinstein the display was erected by “a volunteer group” and it was being taken down. Loebe was free to interpret this as the Air Force agreeing with the MRFF position:  Continue reading

Al Mohler on Marriage as a Civil Right

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in April about “same-sex marriage as a civil right — are wrongs rights?“  The article noted that activists decades ago made an intentional effort to move the discussion away from “homosexual sex,” which was considered impolite conversation at best, to “civil rights,” which many supported.

Mohler’s discussion is enlightening:

At this point Christians have to think very carefully. We do not want to deny anyone his or her civil rights. To do so would not only violate the Constitution but also deny the rights that are granted, not by the government, but by the Creator. But is same-sex marriage such a right?

Mohler’s answer:  Continue reading

Chris Rodda, the Government Funded Piano, and the Torah

A few days ago, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF research assistant, Chris Rodda, mocked the purchase of an $88,000 Steinway piano for a Fort Riley chapel in a little-noticed piece at the Huffington Post:

Apparently, military cutbacks don’t apply to church music…

I can’t say that I was surprised to hear about this example of outrageously extravagant spending on a military chapel…

She implied, somewhat obtusely, that the Army wouldn’t need such a piano if there was really religious hostility toward Christians in the US military, as some have asserted. Notwithstanding her presumption that only Christians would use a musical instrument, it is worth a reminder that she represents an organization that claims to be defending “religious freedom” in the US military.  She later said

While the military is cutting back on necessary services it is sparing no expense on chapels and religious programs.

As a supposed advocate for religious liberty, she considers this a bad thing?

In point of fact, Rodda, Weinstein, and Continue reading

ACLU Defends American Troops Attacked by Mikey Weinstein

In an interesting twist, the ACLU recently praised a decision by the US Army that “protect[ed] First Amendment rights” of Soldiers — but it was precisely the opposite position of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, who claims his MRFF is the “sole group” providing soldiers that very protection. The ACLU said [emphasis added]:

[There have been] reports that Army diversity trainings have labeled various religious and socially conservative organizations as “extremist” or “hate groups.”

In response to some of that criticism, Army Secretary John McHugh recently suspended these trainings. The ACLU commended that move in a letter to the Army last week that dispels the perception left by some that the trainings were uniquely anti-Christian. The ACLU also urged the Army to better protect the First Amendment rights of military personnel going forward and offered suggestions on how to do so.

The Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition similarly applauded the decision by the Army to end and standardize those briefings.  (To be fully accurate, the Continue reading

US Constitution Compels Military Chaplaincy

Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty wrote an interesting article at the beginning of the month entitled “Why the Constitution Demands Government-Paid Priests, Imams, Pastors, and Rabbis.” He concisely addresses both the need not only for the chaplaincy itself, but also very specific religious faith leaders within that chaplaincy:

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have unique religious needs because the government can snatch them away from their religious communities at a moment’s notice and for indefinite periods…Indeed, “[u]nless the [military] provided a chaplaincy, it would deprive the [service member] of his right under the Establishment Clause not to have religion inhibited and of his right under the Free Exercise Clause to practice his freely chosen religion.” Katcoff v. Marsh

Blomberg explains why chaplains of specific faiths are necessary, Continue reading

US Air Force Academy Will Restore “So Help Me God”

Removing the poster and editing the oath for all Academy students is extreme and unnecessary, and does a disservice to the countless individuals who wish to include the phrase as a solemn reminder that they are pledging their fidelity to God and country.

Letter to LtGen Michelle Johnson from Congress
18 November 2013

Lost in the recent hubbub over the US Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Oath’s inclusion of “so help me God” was an observation made by Patriot Post some time ago:  The phrase “so help me God” had already been deleted from the oaths included in the Cadet Contrails (the book of knowledge issued to each new cadet, which they are required to memorize).

Twenty-eight members of Congress recently wrote to USAFA Superintendent LtGen Johnson and reminded her that the Oath of Office, Oath of Enlistment, and Continue reading

David Barton, Kenneth Copeland on PTSD and the Bible

Last Monday was Veteran’s Day.  Pentacostal preacher Kenneth Copeland hosted David Barton, a self-described “expert in historical and constitutional issues,” and they lit the fires of controversy by addressing the issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the Bible.  Citing the King James Version of Numbers 32:20-22, Copeland says

…”If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the Lord to war, and will go all of you armed over Jordan before the Lord, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, and the land be subdued before the Lord: then afterward ye shall return…and be guiltless before the Lord, and before the nation.”

Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now.

You don’t take drugs to get rid of it, it doesn’t take psychology; that promise right there will get rid of it.

Copeland continues, explaining, in essence, that PTSD is Continue reading

Newsworthy? Homosexuals Get Military Benefits

Since the Supreme Court overturned a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, many outlets have run news stories about homosexuals obtaining military benefits, some published by the military itself.

The US Army made a point of publishing a press release highlighting that “Same-sex spouses of Soldiers now receiving benefits.”  It also reiterated the controversial “gay leave” policy:

Soldiers assigned to duty stations within Continue reading

Weinstein Buys Billboard, USAFA Cites MRFF

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein didn’t like what USAFA did.  So he bought a billboard.  Again.

Via the AFTimes.

As noted at the Air Force Times, Weinstein is upset that “so help me God” remains in the Cadet Honor Oath, despite his prior claim of “victory” over USAFA on this issue:  Continue reading