Members of Congress have written a letter (PDF) to the Secretary of the Navy asking for details on why US Navy Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder is facing adverse action for his religious beliefs [emphasis added]:
Our understanding is that Chaplain Modder’s commanding officer has requested that Chaplain Modder be Detached for Cause after a Sailor at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command complained about Chaplain Modder’s views on pre-marital sex and homosexuality…
These beliefs on sexual intimacy do not constitute a legally viable reason to bring action against Chaplain Modder or any member of the military… It is dangerous to fall prey to the fundamentally false proposition that individuals who support natural marriage can only be motivated by animus for others.
Realize that these are the members of Congress who wrote the law they are now explaining to the Navy. They’re telling the Navy Continue reading →
In a rather surprising development, US Navy CAPT J.R. Fahs issued a “No Contact Order” (essentially, a restraining order) prohibiting Navy Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder from ministering to — or even communicating with — the Sailors he formerly served:
When a sailor in Modder’s previous unit unexpectedly died…Modder was about to reach out to the sailor’s grieving family when he was stopped by a member of the command.
He was slapped with a “no contact” order – the Navy’s version of a restraining order – banning him from providing counsel or ministering to any members of his unit.
The order also reportedly banned Chaplain Modder from even entering the base on the day of the memorial service.
Several critics — primarily on the liberal-leaning, anti-religious freedom side — have laid into US Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Tx) for his “Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015″ — and it is abundantly clear that none of them actually read the proposed bill.
Most of the critics portrayed the act as some version of requiring enlisting military members to “pledge to God” during their military oaths — something that recalls issues with the US Air Force and Air Force Academy in 2013. One employee of the Air Force Academy summed up much of the criticism when he tweeted to the Congressman (thick with irony):
What part of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” did you miss, sir?
You are in Congress. You are sponsoring a bill to establish Christianity as a state religion. Have you READ the Constitution?
A US Naval Academy midshipman (cadet) recently took to the internet to complain about Annapolis’ tradition of noon mealtime prayers. (This daily tradition has been under routine attack almost annually, often from the ACLU.) With emphasis added:
Every day the entire brigade of midshipmen congregates in our massive dining hall for lunch, and every day one of the chaplains gets up in front of everyone and says a prayer before the meal. Most of the time it’s a Christian chaplain from some denomination or another, but usually once a week there’s a Jewish chaplain.
I guess there’s really nothing wrong with it, since I don’t have to pray if I don’t want to, but it is incredibly annoying when you just want to eat your lunch and get on with the day. It doesn’t help that some of the chaplains (especially the Jewish ones, for whatever reason) are incredibly long-winded.
Something occurred to me the other day during prayer. As usual, I wasn’t bowing my head, but was instead looking around at the rest of the midshipmen, the majority of whom are religious. It occurred to me that there’s just something incredibly servile about seeing 4000-odd otherwise intelligent people all bowing their heads in unison. To me, the act of bowing your head is saying in body language that you’re not good enough on your own and you can’t do anything without the help of whatever higher power you happen to believe in. I’m generally not an angry atheist; I like to live and let live, but every time I see that, I become an incredibly angry atheist for a brief moment.
Every cadet is allowed to grouse, of course. It’s practically required to survive four years at any of the US military’s service academies.
Seventy years ago this month, US Marines slogged onto Iwo Jima, an island some 600-miles from the Japanese mainland. Nearly 6,000 Americans died and more than 17,000 were wounded in the month-long battle. As was the practice at the time, the dead were buried on the island in cemeteries designated for each Marine Division.
The Division chaplain reportedly asked US Navy Reserve Chaplain (Lt) Roland Gittelsohn to speak at the memorial dedicating the Fifth Marine Division cemetery on Iwo Jima. Chaplain Gittelsohn was the first Jewish chaplain to serve US Marines.
There was apparently resistance among the Christian chaplains to a Jewish chaplain presiding over the graves of Christians. Gittelsohn reportedly bowed out, instead delivering a eulogy to a smaller, 70-person Jewish ceremony — a ceremony attended by at least three Christian chaplains incensed by the intolerance of their fellow chaplains.
An atheist recently sought the help of his fellow non-believers in trying to overcome a problem with chaplains at his deployed US military location in the Middle East:
Every week the chaplain posts a new message, it has a short story, a bible verse to relate, and times they run service…
Doesn’t seem like a big deal, and at first, he doesn’t think so either, then reconsiders:
What’s wrong with this? Well nothing, depending on where you are. The issue is they’re everywhere, most annoyingly in the bathrooms. Whether you’re sitting or standing they’re right in front of your face!
Then again, he goes back go saying they’re a good thing:
I like that they’re intended to be inspiring and uplifting. In a stressful environment it’s absolutely necessary…
Thomas Gibbons-Neff of Georgetown University pens a fascinating read on moral injury, a reaction to war distinct from, but often confused with, post traumatic stress.
Moral injury is a nebulous term that few use seriously because it doesn’t read well on Veterans Affairs claims. It’s a new term but not a new concept. Moral injury is as timeless as war — going back to when Ajax thrust himself upon his sword on the shores of Troy. Unlike post-traumatic stress, which is a result of a fear-conditioned response, moral injury is a feeling of existential disorientation that manifests as intense guilt…
As discussed here many times, moral injury can be a sometimes nebulous concept, though it may be far more common than is realized. (One study said the number one cause of PTSD was actually moral injury.) At its core, moral injury is an issue of morality, leading to the logical conclusion that, to some extent, religion may very well play a role in treating it.
Following a public relations debacle in which a low-level commander gave Michael “Mikey” Weinstein a short-lived “victory” in his attacks on religious freedom, the US Air Force reiterated to its commanders that they should not be directly dealing with Weinstein. Quoting retired US Army Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews:
Military officials have told him the days of Weinstein’s bullying are over. Air Force commanders, he says, are being told that when the MRFF founder calls, “tell him Thank you for the call and then send it up chain of command so they can start making correct decisions early on.”
Air Force JAGs — Weinstein was once one — published “Weinstein guidance” as early as 2010, advising commanders not to engage with or accede to external activists like Weinstein. Yet, commanders have continued to do so — and the Air Force has suffered the public relations hits as a result. The apparent unfettered access Weinstein had to Air Force commanders even drew congressional attention.
Crews expressed hope that some senior leaders wanted to “do the right thing” — which included ending the apparent perception the US Air Force was granting undue deference to Mikey Weinstein, or that he was using the Air Force as a tool in his personal vendetta against Christians.
Capt. Keith Henry, commanding officer of Naval Air Facility Misawa, gave opening remarks that highlighted the importance of sharing Japan and American cultures at events.
“It was a great event because it not only taught base families about Japanese culture but we had Japanese students and parents working side by side with American students and parents which allows them a deeper understanding across both cultures,” said Henry.
The students and parents were working on hina dolls:
Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder was relieved of his duties for expressing, during private counseling sessions, beliefs consistent with his endorsing agency. He appealed the dismissal, and he also filed a formal request for religious accommodation, seeking the freedom to
discuss matters of faith, marriage, family, and human sexuality from a Biblical perspective when the issue is relevant to pastoral counseling.
Shockingly, his request was denied — sort of. Navy CAPT J.R. Fahs wrote a rambling response (PDF) that addressed the reasoning behind firing Chaplain Modder but never actually said whether the Request for Religious Accommodation was approved or denied. Rather, CAPT Fahs implied the request was unnecessary: Continue reading →
Though Michael “Mikey” Weinstein frequently says he and his MRFF “charity” are not “anti-Christian,” his actions continually contradict his words.
In a recent post from Weinstein’s Twitter feed, he claimed that “Dominionism” is a “nat’l security threat.” The picture he used to make the point? A group of Christian Army trainees attending a Bible study:
So a man who says he believes in religious freedom — and a man who says he is not anti-Christian — uses a picture from a Soldiers’ Bible study to illustrate the rampant “national security threat” he believes exists in the US military.
Weinstein can say whatever he wants. Whenever his words turn into deeds, he has done little more than attack Christians serving in the US military — and he has attacked them only because he dislikes their faith.
It would seem Weinstein’s “anti-Christian” label on the AFA’s map of bigotry fits just fine.
An interview with US Navy Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder at Breitbart revealed a few more details about the Navy’s decision to remove him and attempt to discharge him from the military over complaints about his beliefs.
It seems the Lt(JG) complainant, at points described as a “chaplain’s assistant,” was in fact a new officer filling a temporary job while waiting for his next assignment. With apparent time on his hands — and an agenda — it seems the new officer decided he would go out of his way to make his mark on the Navy.
It turns out the young officer seemed to be running his own private investigation into Modder’s Christian beliefs and how they may conflict with his interpretation of proper tolerance for LGBT individuals.
“We are a professional organization defended by a professional force. Our defenders portray a professional image that represents a base all of Middle Georgia can be proud of. Defenders have been asked to use the standard phrase “Welcome to Team Robins” in their greeting and can add various follow-on greetings as long as they remain courteous and professional.
The Air Force takes any expressed concern over religious freedom very seriously. Upon further review and consultation, the Air Force determined use of the phrase “have a blessed day” as a greeting is consistent with Air Force standards and is not in violation of Air Force Instructions.”
Robins Air Force Base should get credit for the most affirmative statement ever in a Weinstein-reversal, in which they not only undid the ban but also firmly supported the statement in question.