Tag Archives: Religion

Hobby Lobby, the American Culture, and Religious Freedom

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, writing at his Moore to the Point, referencing today’s arguments at the US Supreme Court regarding health care mandates and religious freedom, which he calls “the most important religious liberty case in a generation“:

This case isn’t about politics or culture wars. This case will set the tone for the next hundred years of church/state jurisprudence in this country. This case will tell us whether we’ve bartered away a birthright paid for with our forebears’ blood…

Our government has treated free exercise of religion as though it were a tattered house standing in the way of a government construction of a railroad; there to be bought off or plowed out of the way, in the name of progress.

The government wants us to sing from their hymn book, “Onward, Sexual Revolutionaries,” but we can’t do that. We love and respect our leaders, but when they set themselves up as overlords Continue reading

Report: Bible Controversy at Maxwell AFB

FoxNews Todd Starnes reports on a “Bible controversy” at Maxwell AFB that is, actually, many years old:

For more than a decade new military recruits at Maxwell Air Force Base – Gunter Annex in Alabama have received a Bible from Gideons International volunteers. But that tradition has come to an end after volunteers said they were told by the military that they would no longer be allowed to personally distribute the pocket-sized Bibles to recruits.

A MEPSCOM spokesman explained a little bit more:

Gaylan Johnson, is a public affairs officer for the Military Entrance Processing Command. He told me the Gideons’ side of the story is “not strictly true.”

“They can place their literature within our facility, but they are not allowed to stand there and talk with applicants or hand them (the Bibles) out.”

Unfortunately, this is the product of an old ACLU complaint — from Continue reading

Mikey Weinstein Calls for Religious Test for Military Service

Jay Sekulow: Do you think [Christian] ‘fundamentalists and dominionists’ have the right to serve in the United States military?

Mikey Weinstein: They do not.

This from the guy who claims to defend “religious freedom” and frequently cites Article VI of the US Constitution, which ends with:

No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Mikey Weinstein wants a “religious test.” If you’re not the right kind of Christian — using his definition — he think you should be disqualified from government service.

That’s what he wants to instill. And that‘s the person to whom the US military has been accused of going as a “key resource” on issues of religion.  Perhaps that’s one reason members of Congress – and others — seem to have a perception that there is some “religious hostility” in the US military.

From Jay Sekulow Live, 20 Mar 2014.

Chaplain Serves Marines In Afghanistan

An official Marine Corps article highlights the service of Chaplain (LtCmdr) Matthew Berrens:

“I joined the military because I feel service members come in contact with dangerous situations more than the civilian side of ministry,” said Berrens…“I wanted to be able to help people at the source.”

Chaplain Berrens describes how his role as a chaplain helps accomplish the military mission:

“I feel like I’m helping them along in their journey of life, through challenging and difficult times,” said Berrens. “My role in helping people spiritually improves mission readiness. When service members are put at ease spiritually, they can focus on their job or mission more, which makes them more effective.”

Read more.

Weinstein uses Atheist Complaint as Proof of Equality

Update: Todd Starnes at FoxNews covers ‘the rest of the story‘ (via the PatriotPost) left unsaid — or unknown — by Mikey Weinstein.  He notes, for example, both the staff tower announcement at Mitch’s and the wing-wide email, which the Academy defended — though it didn’t defend those same actions by Christians against Weinstein’s attacks in 2011. Also, [formatting original]

The Cadets who contacted me about the atheist event indicated that they were not objecting to the promotion of that event, but to the hypocrisy of that promotion, versus a fellow Cadet being asked to remove a Bible verse from his door. Obviously, only the Christian expression of faith is the target of AFA discrimination, and it is Johnson’s “religious impartiality” which should be in contention.

Jason Torpy and the MAAF — Weinstein’s erstwhile ally — took issue with his characterizations of their activities (though they supported removing the Bible verse).

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF has said he filed a “complaint” about atheists at the US Air Force Academy — and this is proof that he’s an equal opportunity critic:

Weinstein said an atheist cadet announced at the academy’s chow hall on Wednesday, while everyone was at attention, that Wednesday and Thursday would be “Ask an Atheist” days.” Weinstein said a group of the cadets set up a display on the third floor of Fairchild Hall, which includes classrooms, lab and research facilities and faculty offices.

“Replace ‘Ask an Atheist’ with ‘Ask a Christian,’ ‘Ask a Jew,” or “Ask a Muslim,’” said Weinstein, and the problem is obvious. “This is unlawful.”

The first question: Is Weinstein’s accusation accurate?

Simply, no. Weinstein appears to take issue with both the announcement and the actual “event.” The former is an announcement, nothing more. The US Air Force Academy is Continue reading

“Offended” Cadets Need Correction before Commissioning

LtGen Michelle Johnson, Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy, gave some insight into her reaction to cadets who “protested” the removal of a Bible verse by posting verses and quotes of their own:

Since Monday, there’s been a wave of freedom, religious and otherwise, on the 2,000 whiteboards outside cadet dorm rooms.

In response to the online flap that developed over Monday’s posting and erasure, hundreds of cadets took up their pens and posted quotes from the Bible, Talmud, Qu’ran and non-religious sources.

“It seems 20-year-olds have a sense of humor,” Johnson said.

The academy has told cadets to use taste and caution in what they post. The goal, Johnson said, is to have a climate of respect.

Of course, there’s no evidence the first cadet to put up a verse violated standards of “taste and caution,” so its unclear if that will remain a consistent standard.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council praised the cadets who bravely exercised their faith and their freedom. (Notably, some cadets who joined the protest weren’t even religious — they just Continue reading

Chaplain Jonathan Fisher Claims Unique Service to All

US Army Chaplain Jonathan Fisher recently made a splash with his peers by blogging on the topic of “inclusiveness,” in which he laid down the law saying he was going to be inclusive, even if it seems like other chaplains don’t want to be.

His made substantial use of an implied strawman:

I am a chaplain for ALL my Soldiers. All of them. The gay ones. The straight ones. The fat ones. The skinny ones. The conservative ones. The liberal ones. The religious ones. The non religious ones. The connected to church and the far away. The reason driven and the faith-based. The agnostic and the Christian. The pagan, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, Continue reading

Air Force to Document, Explain USAFA Religious Policy

Since when is the standard of what’s constitutional based on what offends someone else?
- Tony Perkins, Family Research Council, addressing USAFA’s statement that a Bible verse was removed because it made someone feel “uncomfortable.”

Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC) asked Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James if she would provide an official explanation of the USAFA Bible verse incident:

Would you be willing to submit a detailed explanation within the next 10 days…of the event that occurred…, what the Air Force Academy policy is, and…how that policy was applied in this situation?

Secretary James agreed to do so. The Air Force has already said its policy is found in AFI 1-1, which says  Continue reading

SecAF on Respect for Diversity of Thought

“Everything comes down to people, as far as I’m concerned,” [Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James] said. This means recruiting and retaining the best people and developing them once they’re in the force, she said.

It also includes diversity of thought and background among decision-makers, dignity and respect for all, and making sure that everybody is on top of and leading and living the service’s core values, James said.

Presumably, the desire to “recruit and retain” people of “diversity of thought and background” includes those whose thoughts and background include religious beliefs.

Rhodes Scholar Zac Crippen on USAFA, Religious Freedom

US Air Force Lt Zac Crippen has a unique perspective on Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — Weinstein published his name for all the Internet to see back when he was a cadet in 2011.  Crippen recently talked about this at The Federalist in an article entitled The Sorry State Of Religious Freedom At The Air Force Academy:

When I was a senior at the Academy, I was an approval authority for emails disseminated to the student body. One of these emails — written by a fellow senior of mine — was collecting support for a charity campaign called Operation Christmas Child (OCC)…

MRFF filed an immediate complaint, and the next day I received an email from one of my superiors instructing me and my classmate to retract the email, which we did.

As he routinely does, Weinstein credited this Continue reading

General Welsh: No Religious Persecution in US Air Force

Update: Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council released the following statement in response to General Welsh’s testimony [italics original]:

“The perception is that Mikey Weinstein is setting the policy for religious expression in the U.S. Air Force, as evidenced by the growing number of incidents of religious hostility toward Christians.  Instead of denying reality, General Welsh should have taken the opportunity in Friday’s hearing to discuss how he would bring the Air Force into compliance with the new DOD instructions protecting religious expression…

“Family Research Council and the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition will not stand by while the Air Force Chief tries to evade the reality of these attacks on religious expression.  We will continue to do all we can to protect the rights of the men and women serving in the Air Force and in all the uniformed services.”

A visibly frustrated General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, fielded questions about religious liberty during what was supposed to be a congressional committee meeting on the Fiscal Year 2015 Air Force budget:

The single biggest frustration I’ve had in this job is the perception that somehow there is religious persecution inside the United States Air Force. It is not true.

Interestingly, the words “religious persecution” were General Welsh’s characterization, not the Congressman’s.

To be fair, that statement may be technically accurate in Continue reading

Cadets Speak Out, Religious Liberty Group Meets with USAFA

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?

US Air Force Academy cadets spoke out — anonymously — after the recent kerfuffle over Bible verses on dry erase boards. Their statements are mature and well-considered:  Continue reading

Former Korean Soldier Speaks at Austin Prayer Breakfast

Sung Joon Jang is a faculty member at Baylor University and was the featured speaker at the Austin, TX, Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. He grew up in his native Korea, where he fulfilled his mandatory military service:

“My dad was an atheist…and since I was young, I heard, ‘There is no God,’ and that religion was for feeble-minded people – at best,” Jang told the audience.

But his conversion to Christianity came while serving his country.

“My conversion happened in the military,” Jang said of his mandatory service in the Korean Army. A fellow military member approached him and asked him whether he had read the Bible.

He said he had responded, “I will read the Bible and tell you what’s wrong with the Bible…”

Jang said he read the New Testament and Continue reading

USAFA Cadets Lead “Righteous Rebellion”

The Family Research Council had high praise for cadets who “offered a teachable moment of their own” when they hung Bible (and Qur’an) verses on their doors after a Bible verse was pulled down:

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

Update: Mikey Weinstein Threatens Suit if USAFA Cadets Not Punished

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!”)

According to an update at TheBlaze, Weinstein wants everyone who posted verses punished, for some reason, though he didn’t mention Continue reading