While many people may have opinions, the fact is there is no Air Force policy or regulation at all that addresses Bible verses or other public displays of religion — even in an official office setting, even by Air Force “leaders.”
Based on actual military policy, Air Force cadets — and enlisted, and officers — remain free to have verses on their whiteboards and Bibles on their desks, even if some people don’t agree or like it. The mere association of an Air Force leader with a religious belief cannot reasonably be interpreted to be improper — or else far more censorship and restriction on conduct needs to occur. After all, if a cadet can’t handle seeing a Bible verse on a whiteboard, how will he react when he sees his commander wearing a yarmulke?
Overnight, Scriptures from Philippians 4 to Psalm 28 started appearing up and down dorm hallways on whiteboards — a stealth operation to counter the growing culture of religious oppression.
The FRC notes Michael “Mikey” Weinstein “went into panic mode” when he fired off an email to Academy Superintendent LtGen Michelle Johnson: Continue reading
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, a self-described religious liberty advocate, is threatening to sue the US Air Force Academy if it fails to punish cadets who exercised their religious liberty.
As previously noted in the original discussion, a large group of cadets responded to the original story of Weinstein successfully getting a Bible verse erased from a cadet whiteboard by posting verses of their own — from the Bible, Qur’an, movies, the Helix, and even the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (One said “go atheists!”)
Update 2: This story is now updated here.
Update: Many USAFA cadets are now openly taunting Mikey Weinstein by posting verses (and commentary) to their message boards:
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently erupted when he found out a cadet wrote a Bible verse on his message board in a USAFA hallway:
The text is Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
The labels indicate the room belongs to a 2° (junior) in Cadet Squadron 21.
The proposed Lake Elsinore war memorial — which was to portray the iconic silhouette of a soldier kneeling at a cross-shaped headstone — was declared unconstitutional by US District Judge Stephen Wilson:
On Thursday (Feb. 27), U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson of California’s Central District ruled that a granite monument depicting a soldier kneeling in prayer before a cross lacked “a secular purpose” and has “the unconstitutional effect” of endorsing religion over nonreligion.
For those that can’t seem to remember, the US Constitution says this about religion:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
The US Navy recently revamped its uniform program — again — in a move that was largely unnoticed but by those who have been critiquing the US military’s hunt for a long-term uniform over the past few years. As the issue was largely ignored, missed also was the substantial impact to US Navy chaplains.
It seems the Navy’s current versions of camouflage uniforms didn’t authorize a Chaplain’s insignia — meaning it was impossible for average Sailors to easily identify their chaplains:
“The fact you couldn’t identify a chaplain by his or her religion immediately on site [sic] was something the Navy Chaplain Corps requested to fix…Allowing sailors to identify their chaplains and Continue reading
Former US Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt recently responded to testimony by the Rev James Magness, the Episcopal Church’s Armed Forces Bishop, given at the House Armed Services Committee (previously discussed here):
Klingenschmitt calls it arrogant for James Magness, the Washington National Cathedral’s bishop for the armed forces, to say that chaplains who pray in Jesus’ name risk offending non-Christian troops and harming unit cohesion.
“This quote by him demonstrates exactly the reason Continue reading
The House Armed Services Committee heard testimony from several DoD and civilian sources on Wednesday on the topic of religious accommodation in the US military. Witnesses included Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy, Ms. Virginia Penrod, US Army Deputy Chief of Chaplains (BGen) Charles Bailey, US Air Force Deputy Chief of Chaplains (BGen) Bobby Page, and US Navy Chief of Chaplains (RAdm) Mark Tidd. The statements, questions, and answers in the hearing were quite interesting. The hour-long CSPAN-worthy video can be viewed here, with highlights discussed below.
Military.com summarized the session as “Lawmakers Accuse Military of Anti-Christian Bias,” and the Religion News Service noted “Top brass say they’re not aware of bias against military chaplains.” It would seem the public perception of the hearing was somewhat different than what the participants thought.
Retired US Army Chief of Chaplains Chaplain (MajGen) Doug Carver Continue reading
Update: J.B. Wells wonders aloud if the DoD intentionally produced the policy to change the religious freedom focus to turbans and beards while keeping “liberal constituencies” like Michael Weinstein “at bay.”
There have been a wide variety of responses to the US military’s update to DODI 1300.17 (accommodating religious freedom), with language that seems to imply a more open attitude toward outward display and expression of religious belief.
The Pentagon reportedly decided to change its policy on religious wear after Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a Sikh, spoke at a Congressional briefing about the challenges American Sikhs face in the military earlier in January. Kalsi told members of Congress that he believes he can effectively serve his country while still maintaining his religious appearance, including an uncut beard and a turban.
While that may or may not have been a factor, the DoDI clearly includes language from both the 2013 and 2014 National Defense Authorization Acts — that is, requirements levied by Congress, not just reconsideration based on serving Soldiers.
The US Navy appeared to try to quell Continue reading
The Rev (Dr.) Albert Mohler wrote an interesting article responding to comments by Jonathan Turley, the lawyer for the successful Utah “sister wives” legal challenge and law professor at George Washington University [emphasis added]:
Turley’s article is an example of a concerted, very sophisticated, libertarian argument that is fast gaining ground in American life. Just last year the state of Colorado decriminalized adultery. The president of the Independence Institute testified for the decriminalization, stating that “it is a conservative value to get rid of bills that are useless.”…
The original statute was hardly useless. It was a profound moral statement about the sanctity of marriage and the crime of violating the marriage vows, thus subverting marriage and the family and endangering children and weakening the larger community.
Mohler also revisits the argument that the state should not “legislate morality,” which he accurately rebuts by Continue reading
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation believes the 2014 NDAA language requiring the US military to accommodate religious expression — not just religious belief — is “a good thing.”
Simultaneously, Weinstein’s MRFF also believes the language is “a blank check for bullies.”
Awkwardly, Weinstein and his “special research assistant” Chris Rodda issued opposing MRFF statements on precisely the same subject.
Following the recent kerfuffle over the National Guard and state laws regarding homosexual benefits, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel released a statement seeming to declare the matter closed:
On Oct. 31, I called on the chief of the National Guard Bureau to work with several states to fully implement Department of Defense policy by providing DoD identification cards to all eligible military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation. Following consultations between Continue reading
Apparently, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has arrived.
The DuffelBlog — the military-themed takeoff of the satirical Onion website — riffed the recent controversy over the Guantanamo Bay Nativity scenes with a fake article entitled “Detainee Live-Action Christmas Diorama at Guantanamo Triggers Controversy.”
The site, which some might consider offensive but apparently has a Pentagon fanbase, built a satirical tale for most of the article, but finished without really having to embellish all that much:
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was circulating an anonymous e-mail from eighteen other guards that went even further, referring to “the blatantly unconstitutional activities we’ve seen aboard Guantanamo. Obviously we’re referring to the nativity scene in the chow hall…” Continue reading
In a short pieced entitled “Atheist says, ‘Boo!’ Navy jumps to attention,” Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty executive director retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews lamented the US military’s seeming subservience to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein:
“It’s just disappointing that the military, the Air Force and now the Navy, is just caving in to a shout from Mr. Weinstein,” says Crews. “He says, ‘Boo!’ and they hide – and that’s very disappointing.”
More interestingly, Crews highlights the core of the push Weinstein has most recently tried — and the one that brought him this “victory:” Continue reading
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.)