The Stars and Stripesrepeated an article from the Newport News Daily Press noting Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s recent speech at the College of William and Mary. While Weinstein’s speeches are essentially verbatim at each venue, the article headlined and detailed an interesting quote:
“It’s not about eliminating God,” [Weinstein] said. “If that were to happen, we would be in someone’s face in two seconds. It’s about making sure you follow the procedures in deploying your version of God.”
His first sentence seems to be true. He has not advocated “eliminating God” — at least not the God he approves of — from the military or anywhere else. His second Continue reading →
The Deseret News carries its own commentary by Amy Choate-Nielsen on the recent changes to the DoD’s rules requiring religious accommodation. Interestingly, it uses two Jewish Soldiers as the central points of its article — even though the two have nothing to do with the policy changes:
For [Michael] Handman, the new NDAA law comes too late. Five years ago, the private was called derogatory names because of his faith, ordered to remove his yarmulke and rebuked for reading Jewish canon. Then, a few days after his letter home, on Sept. 24, 2008, Handman was lured into a laundry room and beaten to the point of unconsciousness, an Associated Press story says.
The US Air Force Academy published an article featuring cadets attending a seminar on “ethical dilemmas.”
Eight special operations captains from Kirtland and Cannon Air Force Bases, Academy active-duty Airmen and Air Force retirees shared ethical dilemmas that have occurred in their personal and professional lives with about 70 cadets, to engage in reflective conversation, focus on character and leadership, identify pressure that make ethical action challenging and how to improve them.
While the class was certainly long-scheduled, the timing of the public affairs piece is probably not coincidental, given the recent focus on ethics — more accurately, ethical failures — in the US military.
The cadets were introduced to the USAFA Center for Character Development’s ARDA model for decision-making: Awareness, Reasoning, Decision and Action. They then rotated through tables where they interacted with active duty officers who spoke to them about ethical dilemmas they had experienced.
Agudath Israel of America, an “Orthodox umbrella group,” recently highlighted that the Defense Logistics Agency (which orders supplies for the military) had dropped a solicitation for kosher MREs (but kept the one for halal meals). Facing implications they were running out of kosher MREs, the military responded:
[Zubeck:] Some cadets and staff are concerned there’s an atmosphere in which cadets are expected to have their first allegiance to God, not country. How do you deal with that?
LtGen Johnson’s answer was consistent with the same Air Force guidance that has been around for years, though she cited AFI 1-1 specifically [emphasis added]:
[Johnson:] Because we’re a college, we need to have open discourse, but we have to balance that with providing a successful climate. So what we have going in, it’s really kicked in well, is this religious respect training, not just for cadets but for permanent party. That’s really important, for permanent party to know the balance there. People are free to have their beliefs but not proselytize or impose them on someone else.
The wide variety of worship or lack thereof is reflected in the ranks of the 1.3 million active-duty force. Troops aren’t compelled to report but many do. The most popular affiliations: Christian, no denomination chosen, 346,752; no religious preference, 277,563; Roman Catholic, 262,248.
Elsewhere in the ranks, there are 301 Quakers and 1,561 troops who practice witchcraft. But you won’t an agnostic in the Army. There are 3,126 atheists but not one agnostic.
To be fair, the same demographics note there are more than 6,000 agnostics in the other three services. Apparently everyone in the Army is certain — one way or the other.
An Air Force Airman posting as “A1C Venom” has started a YouTube page in which he comments on various issues of religion, including “Atheism in the Military.” His video is calmly presented and not altogether unbalanced, though a few of his comments are confusing, leading one to wonder if he actually understands some of what he’s saying or how well informed he is.
For example, he states at the beginning of the video that he’s “seen a lot of discrimination” as an atheist in the military, yet he doesn’t provide a single example of discrimination. He does talk about prayer at military events (which he feels is Continue reading →
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.
The US Air Force published an interesting story about 2Lt Abraham Morland, whose origins may be a little unique but whose desires about Air Force flying are probably pretty common:
Second Lt. Abraham Morland…held dual citizenship in both the United States and the United Kingdom. He was born to British parents in Tulsa, Okla., where his father worked as a flight simulator technician…
“My real love was America, I wanted to come back home to the states and join the U.S. Air Force,” he said.
As a result, his parents moved back to the United Sates so their son could pursue his dream of becoming an American pilot.
The Department of Defense “studied” the impact of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by performing a much-contested survey of US troops in 2010. While the effort was reportedly intended to gather data and draw conclusions based upon that data, there were accusations at the time its actual purpose was to justify repeal — not assess its impact.
Accommodation for minority religions was not the main concern of the primarily Republican House members present Wednesday, however. Many of their questions centered around allegations that free expression of faith by Christian believers was being suppressed…
Under Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning, who was Acting Secretary for a few months, recently gave an interview for a homosexual ‘special report’ of the National Journal in which he discussed the effects of repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on the military. Largely, he continued his prior statements that while he thought the policies were bad, repeal was apparently met with a collective shrug.
He did have one interesting comment, however, in which he said the federal Defense of Marriage Act actually made repeal of DADT easier: Continue reading →
According to the Air Force Times, Little Rock AFB has changed one of its “Wingman Day” seminars after Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained about Christian content in a chaplain-led marriage course:
Little Rock’s Feb. 7 Winter Wingman Day will offer classes in four “pillars” — mental, social, physical and spiritual — according to a Jan. 23 release from the base. The spiritual pillar originally would have offered sessions from an evangelical Christian video series called “The Art of Marriage.”
Some airmen objected to the video’s inclusion, and felt it favored a particular version of one faith…
There is no doubt that Family Life‘s The Art of Marriage is Christian, though how that translates into “a particular version of one faith” is unclear. Merely being Christian isn’t sufficient reason to eliminate the chaplain-led course, after all. At present, there isn’t public evidence the complainants even knew the content of the course. (In fact, if people took the time to review the course material, they might be surprised.)
Marriage in America could probably use more of that.
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.