Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley will be the graduation speaker at the 29 May graduation of the USAFA Class of 2013. President Obama is scheduled to speak at the US Naval Academy graduation on 24 May 2013. (Neither event will have the traditional fly-over or airshow.) It does not appear the West Point speaker has been announced, though the Secretary of Defense is frequently one of the speakers.
Chuck Norris recently cited “36 examples of religious liberty assault” (in Part 1 and Part 2) to defend an assertion that religious liberty is under attack in America. About a third of his examples involved the US military, all of which have been discussed here before (amplifying remarks follow):
- Culture and courts are also trumping citizens’ First Amendment rights who are refusing on religious grounds not to support or participate with groups and events that run contrary to their faith and practice. As a result, wedding cake bakers, T-shirt makers, bed and breakfast owners, pastry shops, high-school teachers, military chaplains, restaurant owners, photographers, parents, churches and others have been harassed, bullied, suspended, fired and sued for merely exercising their Christian beliefs. [As described by CARL.]
- A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a cross displayed as part of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, Continue reading
According to NBC News, the US Army is starting the process to recoup the cost of atheist former Cadet Blake Page’s West Point education:
In a memorandum dated Dec. 12, the superintendent of West Point Academy, Lt. Gen. David Huntoon, did recommend to Army headquarters that Page be honorably discharged and that recoupment — in the form of money or service as an enlisted soldier — be waived.
The response, signed by Thomas R. Lamont, assistant Army secretary, approves Page for an honorable discharge, but disapproves the waivers. In the Jan. 28 memorandum, he orders the West Point superintendent “to conduct a recoupment investigation.”
The Army could demand up to $250,000 or order Page back to active duty, where he previously served enlisted before Continue reading
Contrary to a prior prediction that Michael Weinstein would seethe at the thought of LtGen Robert Caslen taking the helm as Superintendent of West Point, it seems Weinstein has chosen to do the complete opposite:
I am pleased to announce that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation fully endorses the United States Senate’s confirmation of the President’s nomination of Lt. General Robert Caslen to the position of Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
If only it were that simple. The “endorsement” (cross-posted) is a veritable portrait in self-contradiction and capriciousness. Weinstein says he is “pleased,” but later says he has “non-trivial trepidation” — yet also “wishes him well.” Demonstrating both his repetitive redundancy and intellectual inconsistency, Weinstein says he has no idea what Caslen will “actually do,” but “he incontrovertibly deserves and merits [sic] the chance to do it.”
During Gen Caslen’s involvement in the Christian Embassy controversy in 2006, Weinstein said those involved in the scandal were equivalent to al Qaida, Iraqi militant Muqtada al Sadr, and deserved to be court-martialed. Two years later, Weinstein Continue reading
The Department of Defense recently announced that President Obama has nominated a new Superintendent for the US Military Academy at West Point:
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announced today that the President has made the following nominations:
Army Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., for reappointment to the rank of lieutenant general and for assignment as superintendent, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. Caslen is currently serving as chief, Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, Iraq.
LtGen Caslen has had a long and distinguished career, which began when he graduated West Point in 1975 and includes a tour as the West Point commandant of cadets. He is also a Christian, Continue reading
Since former cadet (and current MRFF “client”) Blake Page made his awkward public departure from West Point over “criminal” Christianity, there has been a simmering of the issue of prayer at the US Military Academy. For the most part, the only loud voices were critics who want to see West Point end public prayers.
“The First Amendment allows public officials to acknowledge our nation’s religious heritage,” he notes. “Anti-religious groups with misguided ideas about the First Amendment should not be allowed to destroy a time-honored, perfectly constitutional American custom.”
It’s the time of year for lists and summaries, and various sites and groups are compiling their “best of” and “mostest” lists for 2012. Consistent with last year’s apparent trend, issues of religion and the military seem to have largely fallen from the visibility they once had. For example, BJC online lists their “Top Religious Stories of 2012” — not one of which references the military. Likewise the Christian Post. The Religion Clause and the Stars and Stripes lists both made only one relevant reference, to the much delayed Fort Hood massacre trial.
Curious as to what others were reading here this year? The Top 10 most-read stories on ChristianFighterPilot.com for 2012 are Continue reading
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has called on the US Military Academy at West Point to “stop including prayer during official events.”
In a letter to Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon and other officials, Americans United asserted that the academy’s prayer policy runs afoul of the Constitution and violates the rights of cadets.
West Point responded simply by saying there are no mandatory prayers at the Academy. Americans United seems to believe the First Amendment was written to protect offended ears, not speech. Their letter supports — unwittingly or not — the stereotype that merely being exposed to a ‘religious act’ is offensive and therefore illegal [emphasis added]: Continue reading
White House photo.
US Army Chaplain (LtCol) Larry Bazer, Joint Forces Chaplain for the Massachusetts National Guard, was on hand December 13th at the White House to light a 90-year-old menorah. (It turns out he was invited to do so last year, but was unavoidably detained: He was deployed to Afghanistan.) President Obama gave a history of Hanukkah and explained the application of its values to all.
Update: A local news report seems to verify conclusions former Cadet Page was coached by Michael Weinstein on how to leave West Point with a splash.
Update: World notes “other issues” influenced Cadet Blake Page’s decision, which “may have had little to do with the academy’s religious climate.” The faculty advisor for Page’s group is cited as saying ‘he doesn’t believe systematic discrimination against nonreligious cadets exists.’
The FRC notes Page’s clinical diagnosis requires “help,” not being used for “publicity and exploitation” by “professional anti-religionist” Michael Weinstein.
According to an update at NBC, Senior West Point Cadet Blake Page — who publicly resigned while accusing US Military Academy officers of being “criminals” — will be discharged without having to serve as a Soldier or reimburse the government for his education.
Page’s decision to resign and — presumably — decline to be an Army officer has been almost universally panned in the comments on the media articles on his resignation, even from those claiming to be fellow atheists and cadets. Some have said he should have stayed and “changed the Army from within;” others, that his charges did not seem to be supported or supportable. Insinuations have been made that he may have been struggling to graduate anyway, and that his announcement (as well as his announced book plans) were little more than a publicity stunt to take advantage of an inevitable outcome.
Senior West Point Cadet Blake Page announced his resignation from the US Military Academy on the internet, calling his superior military officers “criminals.”
As reported on NBC:
“Countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution,” wrote Page…”These men and women are criminals, Continue reading
Multiple news outlets carried the Associated Press report on a homosexual ceremony conducted in the Cadet Chapel at the US Military Academy at West Point (though the Stars and Stripes probably wins for the most interesting comments).
Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate, exchanged vows in the regal church in an afternoon ceremony, attended by about 250 guests and conducted by a senior Army chaplain…
It was not the first such service at West Point, though Continue reading
Jews in Green recently announced LtGen Howard Bromberg, US Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, and Col Glenn Goldman, Director of Military Instruction at West Point, will be speaking to the Aleph Institute’s 2013 “Military Training Course” in January. (Gen Bromberg has spoken there before, and prior speakers have included Speaker of the House John Boehner.)
The annual conference is intended for Jewish members of the military who Continue reading
Dr. Don Snider (Col, US Army, Retired), a Political Science instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point, responded to USAFA law instructor David Fitzkee’s (Maj, US Army, Retired) prior Parameters article on religious freedom with a commentary criticizing the analysis of command involvement. Regarding the memorandum on religious neutrality issued last year, Snider said
It seems fair to say that the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force does not trust some of his Commanders to correctly fulfill their responsibilities to “support individual Airman’s needs and provide opportunities for the free exercise of religion.” So, he has withdrawn autonomy from all of his Commanders to do so, turning it over to their Chaplains.
Snider accurately notes that this singles out issues of religion for separation from command guidance: Continue reading
Michael Weinstein, of his self-founded Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has threatened to “file a federal lawsuit” if the US Military Academy at West Point doesn’t stop using a survey that “violates…constitutional protections.”
West Point is currently in direct violation of Clause 3, Article 6 of the United States Constitution’s absolute prohibition against the utilization of any “religious test”…
West Point has grievously transgressed against and is in clear violation of the Constitution of the United States of America, period.
You know its serious when he spells out “period.” Further, Weinstein asserted that his “clients” were anonymous because they “gravely” feared reprisal:
Our 42 MRFF clients at West Point gravely fear the distinct possibility that they could be the target of nontrivial direct or indirect reprisals and/or retribution if they were to voice their concerns and demands to their superiors at the Academy…
Weinstein’s main points — West Point violated the Constitution and its cadets and faculty are cowering in fear — are fairly easy to debunk:
“West Point Violated the Constitution”
Most honest Constitutional historians would likely admit Weinstein is misusing the “no religious test” clause. (Even Weinstein’s own research assistant, Chris Rodda, Continue reading