Tag Archives: Religion

Congressional Hearing on Military Religious Freedom, Hostility

As previously noted, the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel invited five civilian witnesses to provide testimony on the state of religious freedom in the US military last Wednesday.

Attending were:

  • Michael Berry, Liberty Institute attorney who acted on behalf of cadets at the US Air Force Academy this year
  • Retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews, an outspoken advocate for military religious freedom
  • Travis Weber, Director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, US Naval Academy graduate and former Naval aviator.
  • Rabbi Bruce Kahn, a retired Navy Captain and Chaplain, a founding member of the Equal Rights Center, and an advocate for homosexual “rights.”
  • Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, founder and sole employee of his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, engaged in a self-described “war” against Christians in the US military.

Contrary to some predictions, it wasn’t really a contentious meeting. What the hearing did reveal was the committee members were Continue reading

Pope Elevates US Air Force Chaplain to Bishop

Air Force Chaplain (Maj) Chad Zielinski, currently the deputy wing chaplain at Eielson AFB, was recently selected by Pope Francis to be the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska. According to the Air Force announcement, it is the first time an active duty chaplain has been elevated to bishop.

“I was very shocked and humbled to be chosen by the Holy Father,” Zielinski said. “I’m looking forward to the new venture and challenges, but by the grace of God and the talents of the people around me the transition should be smooth.”

Chaplain Zielinski previously served at the US Air Force Academy, and received accolades there, as well.

The article indicates the chaplain will continue to serve in the Air Force Reserve while he is the bishop.

Sikh Denied ROTC Files Lawsuit

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the US Army on behalf of Sikh Hofstra University student Iknoor Singh, who was denied entry into ROTC because he would not comply with Army grooming standards that conflict with his religious beliefs.

From the filing (PDF):

When Mr. Singh asked for a religious exemption from these rules…, Defendants denied his request, despite approving similar religious and medical accommodations for other uniformed Army personnel in recent years.

Mr. Singh is now left with an untenable choice: Enlist as an ROTC Cadet and abandon the sacred religious practices that he has followed his entire life, or forfeit his dreams of joining ROTC–along with Continue reading

World Magazine Posts Mikey Weinstein Interview

WORLD Magazine has posted excerpts from the Marvin Olasky interview of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein conducted in late September.

Olasky’s summary was tellingly entitled “Michael L. Weinstein: Fighting Christian influence,” and he introduced the excerpts by noting

[The MRFF is] media-savvy group that fights what it says is religious intimidation by evangelicals in the U.S. military. I disagree with Weinstein and probed his biases before an audience of Patrick Henry College students…

Read the full article here, or watch the original interview.

Military Religious Freedom goes to Congress

The congressional hearing postponed in late September, in which a House Armed Services subcommittee was to hear testimony on military religious freedom, has been rescheduled for tomorrow, 19 November, at 1400 Eastern.  The hearing is scheduled to be broadcast online.

The original invitees included retired Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry, Travis Weber of the Family Research Council, retired Navy Chaplain (CAPT) Bruce Kahn, and former Air Force Captain Michael “Mikey” Weinstein.

Chaplain Crews recently made a point of saying he intended to speak about the “duplicity” of the US Air Force, which published an atheist’s commentary but censored a Christian’s.

US Navy Surveys LGB Sailors to Assess Post-DADT Readiness

The Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control has teamed with Palo Alto University in California to survey homosexual Sailors to determine their psychological and emotional health.

“The repeal of this policy really implemented a culture change for the U.S. military and it’s incredibly important to comprehend how this shift is not just impacting our people, but also affecting readiness,” said Capt. Scott Johnson, NCCOSC director and a Navy medicine psychology expert, in a statement Wednesday.

Navy Capt. Scott Johnson appears to be the first US official to openly admit the repeal of DADT “really implemented a culture change,” while most others have publicly said it was a “non-event.”

The implication that there has been an impact on readiness is interesting, given that even supporters of repeal (and the DoD itself) have claimed Continue reading

Atheist Chaplain Applicant Sues US Navy over Rejection

Jason Heap, a humanist who applied to become a US Navy Chaplain, has filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination over his rejection:

Religion scholar and former youth minister Jason Heap filed suit Wednesday along with the organization backing him, the Humanist Society, alleging that the military unfairly passed him over earlier this year not because he lacked qualifications, but because he doesn’t believe in a traditional religion.

There are a few high hurdles Heap has to overcome. First, he has to prove the Navy “passed him over…because he doesn’t believe…” Remember, the Navy previously said less than 50% of the Chaplain applicants were approved. Heap has to prove that he was rejected because of his non-theistic beliefs, and not for any reason similar to Continue reading

Air Force Updates Religious Guidance after Outcry

The Air Force announced it has updated AFI 1-1 — because of issues regarding religious liberty [emphasis added]:

Air Force officials approved Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards, Nov. 7, to clarify guidance on Airmen’s religious rights and commanders’ authority and responsibility to protect those rights.

The announcement contained a summary of the changes. The changes [emphasis added]

clarify guidance for how commanders should handle religious accommodation requests or when Airmen’s rights to free exercise are questioned. Chaplain corps officials also clarified policy language to assist commanders in balancing the constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs with the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion.

Importantly, General Welsh is quoted as specifically Continue reading

Navy Chaplain Advances Pentagon’s Relationship with Faithful

Is it the role of a US military chaplain to advance the US military’s relationship with Christians around the world?

An article at the Quantico Sentry (and repeated at a US military site) highlights US Navy Chaplain (Cmdr) Abuhena Saifulislam, one of the more prominent faces of Islam in the US military over the past few years. The article notes

He’s served as the public face of an all-inclusive U.S. military and as a living example that the U.S. armed forces and Islam were not inherently incompatible.

About Islamic extremists, Chaplain Saifulislam said  Continue reading

Mikey Weinstein Threatens to Sue UNG

After previously belittling and then speaking at the University of North Georgia, multiple headlines now claim Michael “Mikey” Weinstein is going to file a lawsuit:

The University of North Georgia has come under fire in the ongoing war on Christianity.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is suing the school, accusing it of holding a 9/11 memorial service that invoked the “Christian God…”

The media articles (including one from the student paper) fail to note that Weinstein has threatened to sue many people for many reasons over the years — including even this website — and has almost never followed through. (The few he did file were quickly dismissed.)  Weinstein’s threats are empty, if they’re even threats at all. In this case, it wasn’t even Weinstein who made the threat: West Point dropout Blake Page Continue reading

Federal Court: Humanism is a Religion

In an ongoing lawsuit involving a self-described humanist inmate in Oregon, a Federal district court held that “Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes.”

Interesting to see how this will be received on both sides — particularly since being lumped with religion might bring “baggage” as well as benefits.

Via the Religion Clause.

Air Force Responds to Outcry over Censored Commander’s Article

The Public Affairs officer at the Ohio National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing had a tough job — explaining the reasoning behind Col Craig “Bluto” Baker’s decision to censor an article by his medical group commander, Col Florencio Marquinez, because Michael “Mikey” Weinstein found it “odious.” Spokesman James Sims told FoxNews’ Todd Starnes this:

It’s very clear what you can and cannot say in an Air Force publication. Once it was brought to our attention and we compared it with the regulation, we found it was in violation of the regulation.

The article violated AFI 1-1, Sections 2.11 and 2.12.1, and the Revised Interim Guidelines Concerning Free Exercise of Religion in the Air Force guidance, and finally, ‘The Air Force Military Commander and the Law’ book.

That’s a fascinating — and error-filled — statement by the public affairs officer.

To the easy parts first:

First, the “Revised Interim Guidelines Concerning Free Exercise of Religion in the Air Force” do not exist. They were rescinded years ago and Continue reading

Chaplain Serves Faithful in Afghanistan

A US Army news article highlights Chaplain (Capt) Edgardo Rivas, a Seventh Day Adventist chaplain currently serving in Afghanistan:

The U.S. Army chaplains corps motto is “pro deo et patria,” which translates “For God and Country,” and points to their dual role as mentioned in their mission statement…

“There was one particular Soldier that came to my service, whom was a Seventh-day Adventist before,” said Rivas. “After the service, he approached me and told me that it was time for him to Continue reading

Naval Academy Football Coach Balances Faith, Profession

US Naval Academy football coach Ken Niumatalolo appears in the documentary “Meet the Mormons,” a feature film production by the Church of Latter Day Saints that attempts to show that Mormons are “average” and successful in society.

In an article carried at the Baltimore Sun, Niumatalolo is highlighted for his decision to end mandatory team meetings on Sunday, freeing his staff to spend the day with their families and at church. As celebrated NFL coach Tony Dungy and others have explained before, long workdays on Sunday are an expected part of the football culture, and Niumatalolo worked his fair share as an assistant coach:  Continue reading

Mikey Weinstein Attacks POW/MIA Displays

POW/MIA display tables — symbolically empty tables representing those who did not come home — have long been a fixture in military dining halls and formal ceremonies. They’ve also been a sore spot for militant secularists, who object to the traditional inclusion of a Bible on the table. Prior controversies have been discussed before, including one at Patrick Air Force Base earlier this year that resulted in the table being completely removed because it was “divisive.”

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has now gotten into the fray, complaining to the US Navy that an official Navy blog included an info graphic of the traditional table — complete with Bible:

Weinstein had a predictably adjective-filled response:  Continue reading