(Updated 31 Dec 07)
As government officers and followers of Christ, military Christians have a uniquely personal interaction with the sometimes controversial relationship between church and state. Even something as simple as saying “Merry Christmas” (see earlier post) can require consideration unthinkable in the civilian world. For each situation, Christians should stand by their beliefs; however, they need not do so polemically. For an interesting case study, consider some of the recent controversies (and responses) over Christmas displays:
Towns across the country have chosen to place nativity scenes, Christmas trees, and Menorahs on government property. When lawsuits and other attempts to remove them have failed, opposing groups have “joined” what they could not “beat”–they’ve put up their own displays. Read more
As reported in the local paper, Clemson University (a state run school) is in “correspondence” with the ACLU over head football Coach Tommy Bowden’s annual “Church Day,” in which the team visits a church every year. The ACLU contends that Bowden was violating the separation of church and state by his actions, stating he had
abused his authority as Clemson University’s head football coach by imposing his strong personal religious beliefs upon student-athletes under his charge.
The University investigated and determined that the function would be allowed to continue, as it is on a voluntary basis.
Why should a military Christian care? The ACLU Read more
Michael Yon regularly writes personal experience articles for FoxNews, and did so recently when he saw an Iraqi Catholic service–attended by Iraqi Muslims and American soldiers–in which the Americans were thanked for their sacrifices.
Notably, Yon reports that local Muslim Iraqis specifically asked the American military to come and provide protection for the local Christian population. Read his full article on Dispatches From Iraq: Come Home.
It is regrettable that some will undoubtedly seize upon this positive story (and the presence of American soldiers in a Christian service in Iraq) as evidence for the rest of the world of our “crusade” in the Middle East.
According to reports, Malaysia has issued guidelines for Muslims to observe Islamic rituals while on the International Space Station. This was brought about by the October 10 launch of a Muslim into space.
The situation is interesting to Christians in the US due to the American take on the same subject. In 1969, Madalyn Murray O’Hair of the American Atheists sued NASA (O’Hair v. Paine) after the Apollo 8 crew read the first few verses of Genesis over the air during a broacast (mentioned on the Atheist website here). O’Hair apparently believed that NASA ordered the astronauts to read the Bible in order to show the “godless Communists” that the “Christian US” was better than they, though this ignores the fact that all three Abrahamic religions acknowledge Genesis.
Though the case was dismissed, the “irritant” of the suit caused NASA to advise Buzz Aldrin of the Apollo 11 crew not to mention his observance of communion while in space (IHT). In a manner of speaking, then, O’Hair achieved her objective.
First reported on the Religion Clause.
In previous posts (original, update) regarding the MRFF lawsuit against Jeremy Hall’s superior officer and the Defense Department, it has been noted that the American judicial system has been loathe to interfere with the separate judiciary of the military. It has also been noted that, to this point, it does not appear Hall utilized the in-place grievance systems.
So as not to depend on “urban legend” and rumor, a little research resulted in finding the Supreme Court case of Chappell v. Wallace (1983), which addresses both of these concerns, and is quoted extensively below.
In Chappell v. Wallace, 462 U.S. 296 (1983), which can be referenced in its entirety here, the US Supreme Court held that superiors could not be sued by their subordinates because Read more
This is an update on the previous post (below) regarding the MRFF lawsuit against the military.
The MRFF lawsuit (now available) is “comprehensive” in that it lists virtually every military ministry the MRFF could think of, and accuses the military of undefined impermissible conduct with them. Michael Weinstein lists 11 different “evidences” of “patterns and practices” of improper promotion of religious beliefs. The 11 examples essentially comprise the most recent highlights of Weinstein’s “war” against evangelical Christianity in the military; some of the examples are vague, and none of them are substantiated. One of them will likely be quickly ruled moot, as the 523rd Fighter Squadron “Crusaders,” terminology with which Weinstein objects, have been deactivated since May and thus no longer exist.
It appears Weinstein intends to use one court case to address Read more
President Bush has declared September 7-9 as “National Days of Prayer and Remembrance.” From the press release:
We honor the members of our Armed Forces who died while taking the fight to our adversaries, and we are grateful for those who continue to protect our Nation and our way of life. Their courage, sacrifice, and dedication help preserve our freedom. We pray for their safety, for all those who love them, and for the peace we all seek…
During these days of prayer and remembrance, we reflect on all we have lost and take comfort in each other and in the grace and mercy of our Creator. May God guide us, give us strength and wisdom, and may He continue to bless our great country…
Michael Weinstein opines about the state of Christianity in the military in a relatively tame editorial in the LA Times.