As previously discussed, the Bayview Cross in Pensacola, Florida, had been challenged on the same grounds as the Bladensburg Peace Cross, with accusations it was an unconstitutional endorsement of the Christian faith.
Category Archives: Government and Religion
The US military often gets accused of promoting or endorsing religion — particularly when it has the gall to associate religion with the uniform. The vast majority of the time, such complaints are baseless, as the mere presence of religious content and the military context does not constitute anything impermissible. In fact, it is often virtually required.
One religious practice that gets a pass is yoga. A product of eastern religions — which military articles on the topic sometimes, but not always, avoid — the military proudly publishes articles on Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines endorsing the practice.
And the same people who complain about associations between Christians and the military seem to have no problem associating Buddha and the military.
A recent article documents US Air Force Master Sergeant Kathleen Myhre’s 30-day journey to India to become a certified yoga instructor. Now, MSgt Myhre occupies a space in the Airman and Family Readiness Center, where she evangelizes those who enter on the value of her ‘spiritual’ endeavors: Read more
US Army Soldier Jarrett William Smith out of Fort Riley recently pleaded guilty to “distributing explosives information”.
Smith used social media to advise others on how to construct improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, McAllister said. Among the explosives was a recipe for improvised napalm…
Smith detailed the instructions for how to construct a cellphone detonator for an IED “in the style of the Afghans.” He also detailed how to build a bomb using the heads of matches.
Due to be sentenced in May, prosecutors are recommending “supervised release”.
Smith’s motivation? The devil, apparently.
While Smith’s defense attorney Read more
Last week, Scott Air Force Base tweaked the wording of its invitation to it annual National Prayer Breakfast after Michael “Mikey” Weinstein complained. The breakfast is scheduled for the 25th of February.
The original e-vite — which was not sent to anyone but was only available if you clicked through to the Air Force’s official RSVP site — followed standard Air Force protocol. The guest of honor is the Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Second Air Force; the “host” was the Wing Commander, Col J. Scot Heathman.
Weinstein loudly complained that by having the Wing Commander’s name on the invite, random subordinates felt “coerced” to attend. The fact that the POC on the invite was the chaplains’ office, not the commander, apparently escaped him.
(Remember that this is the same person whose lawsuit about coercion over a USAFA national prayer breakfast fell apart when the judge ruled they hadn’t remotely demonstrated any actual potential of retribution if they did not attend.)
Scott AFB was apparently Read more
Last week, the US Air Force quietly published an update to its uniform regulation, AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, which governs how Airmen are required to wear their uniforms. The new regulation included attachments that specifically covered turbans, hijabs, and beards for the first time. While AFI 36-2903 previously discussed “religious apparel,” this is the first time it was covered in such depth.
In addition, it prioritized accommodation Air Force wide. For example, previous versions often restricted accommodation — if it was even granted — to a single military installation.
The new regulation also lowers the level of approval required for some accommodations. For example, Wing Commanders (generally, the commander of the Air Force base) are authorized to approve
hijab, beard, turban or under-turban/patka, unshorn beards, unshorn hair, and indoor/outdoor head coverings.
Importantly, however, if the commander desires to disapprove that accommodation, the request has to be disapproved at AF Headquarters at Read more
Last Friday the MRFF made a rather shocking accusation, accusing a Navy installation of violating the US Constitution — for doing exactly what its founder, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, said they should do.
According to the press release picked up by the AP, US Navy Chaplain (Cmdr) Richard Clay Smothers sent an email out Naval Station Newport advertising an upcoming leadership series entitled “Lead Like Jesus.”
Marty France — a retired USAF BG who joined the MRFF board — decried the “violations” to
the base commander, [US Navy] Capt. Ian L. Johnson, urging him to “move quickly on this blatant violation of the Constitution (that we both swore to uphold) as well as DoD regulations.”
Remember, the email came from the chaplains, not any commander. Here’s the kicker: This is the quote from Mikey Weinstein just a couple of years ago:
“There’s no problem with this [religious campaign] if it’s done through the chaplain’s office,” Weinstein said.
That was a reference to Operation Christmas Child, but it Read more
The Air Force recently announced the commissioning of Saleha Jabeen as a chaplain candidate — which will make her the first female Muslim Chaplain when she completes her program. Jabeen was formerly an enlisted health care specialist in the US Army. Interestingly, Jabeen’s academic credentials come from North Park University (a private Christian school in Chicago), the Catholic Theological Union and Trinity Christian College. Air Force Chief of Chaplains Steven Schaick, who commissioned her in Chicago at the Catholic Theological Union, said
“Any time we advance religious freedoms, it’s a win for all persons of faith. The fact is America is a place where the Constitution guarantees your freedom to embrace or abstain from religious ideals, and the Chaplain Corps, which Jabeen just entered, exists to ensure every Airman has a religious freedom advocate. This is a big day not just for Muslims, but for persons of all faiths. I could not be more proud of our Air Force for being willing to commission and embrace the first female Imam in the Department of Defense.”
It’s an interesting thought. First, biased critics of the military chaplaincy are quick to Read more
Robert Wilkie, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, recently published a column hailing a victory for religious freedom that has mostly gone unnoticed — but it is not insignificant.
On January 16th — Religious Freedom Day — the media widely covered President Trump’s proposed changes to federal regulations that would protect prayer and religious exercise in schools. Less widely discussed was the change to the discriminatory treatment of religious organizations within the Federal services.
Under President Obama, faith-based organizations that Read more