Ever since Madalyn Murray O’Hair of the American Atheists sued NASA in 1969, the relationship between the space agency and all things religious has been interesting. Even forty years later, as noted here, American Atheists complained about NASA allowing Astronaut Patrick Forrester to carry a piece of Nate Saint’s airplane with him into space.
Still, NASA hasn’t shied away from all things religious. A previous article noted that God of Wonders has been one of the more popular “wake-up songs” broadcast to the shuttle crew in space. (Each crewman’s family can pick a song as the wake-up call for the start of each day.) The most recent trip (STS-129) just ended, with space shuttle Atlantis returning to Earth just after Thanksgiving. During the mission, the shuttle heard MercyMe’s I Can Only Imagine, the Newsboys’ In Wonder, and Bob Carlisle’s Butterfly Kisses, among several other songs for the crew. Read more
The White House blog details the Sikh celebration of the “540th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji” that took place on November 13th. President Obama did not attend (he was on the first leg of his Asia trip), and it does not appear he made a statement on the celebration.
The White House notes that this is the first Sikh celebration to occur in the White House. It is not, however, the first time this event has been recognized Read more
Despite the occasional accusation to the contrary, the US military is not a bastion of conspiratorial theocrats. As is routinely shown even on this site, the Chaplains of the US military go beyond the call in their efforts to support all military members, no matter what religion (if any), and often no matter what nationality.
At Keesler Air Force Base, Chaplain (Capt.) Charles Mallory recently had an opportunity to organize a new group to discuss issues of belief. The Chaplain was approached by an enlisted Airman about starting a discussion group that would ultimately be called “The Query of Orthodoxy,” designed to give Read more
Groups and individuals (and there are several) who have recently proposed banning Muslims from serving in the US military as a result of the Fort Hood massacre are demonstrating naivete and an incorrect understanding of both the military and the US Constitution.
No American citizen should be prohibited from any government role, including military service, purely because of his religious beliefs.
Besides being ludicrous on its face, the enforcement of such a religious ban Read more
The moving and often emotional memorial service marking the loss of life at Fort Hood was infused with military ceremony and tradition. Military officers explained that memorials were a part of the process in war; the units gathered to memorialize their fallen, send them home, and then gather their gear to continue the mission.
Flags flew at half-staff, the National Anthem played, speakers lauded the fallen, and the sounding of taps echoed the solemnity of the occasion. Each fallen soldier was represented by a “battlefield cross:” a helmet atop an inverted rifle with bayonet and boots. A uniformed soldier sang Amazing Grace.
Another part of the tradition is prayers offered for the fallen, their friends, and their families. Chaplain (Col) Michael Lembke, Army III Corps Chaplain, wore his religious stole across the shoulders of his military uniform that bore the Christian cross and prayed to “Lord God Almighty,” asking God to “draw us to You” and to “restore to us a spirit of joy and hope.”
The fitting memorial was laden with traditions that critics–including Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation–have repeatedly and vociferously opposed.
Yet today, they remained silent.
The thought that a moving ceremony such as this might be curtailed due to Weinstein’s complaints is an anathema to the American spirit. Yet that is the Read more
Michael Weinstein has written an article that on one hand calls the actions of Maj Nidal Malik Hasan “inexcusable,” but on the other says his alleged harassment may have precipitated his massacre at Fort Hood:
The alleged mistreatment Hasan received in the American military almost certainly played a key role in his disaffection.
He fails to note, however, that the same sources that cite the harassment note that Hasan dismissed it:
They’re ignorant. I’m more American than they are. I help my country more than they do. And I don’t care what they say.
“He felt sorry for them…He didn’t feel grudges. He felt sympathy.”
Weinstein also explicitly states that Christians are the source of all religious Read more
The attack at Fort Hood has inspired almost visceral reactions around the world, potentially leading some to say things that are illogical at their core.
The New York Times has said the attack “complicated” the service of Muslims in the military. Bryan Fischer, who lists his title as the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, posted a blog on the AFA website entitled “No More Muslims in the US Military,” suggesting that Muslims be banned until they can “prove” they are not “jihadis” and threats to national security.
Fischer’s assertions are absurd, and they contravene the protections of the US Constitution and the heart of Christianity. In addition, the AFA is Read more
Following the violent attack on Soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, there has been an outpouring of support from the local community, with churches calling for prayers and military Chaplains asking for prayer for the alleged assailant. Former President Bush quietly visited Fort Hood victims last Friday, and President Obama plans to attend a memorial on Tuesday.
The actions of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the suspected gunman, have been roundly criticized by a variety of organizations representing the American Muslim community.
Though a footnote to the story has been Hasan’s apparent allegations of mistreatment for his faith, a local leader in the Islamic community, Osman Danquah, apparently saw more to the story. He “sensed” that Hasan was “troubled,” and even went so far as to deny Hasan’s request to be a lay Islamic leader at Fort Hood:
He was disturbed by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s persistent questioning and recommended the mosque reject Hasan’s request to become a lay Muslim leader at the sprawling Army post.
Indeed, some of Hasan’s former classmates indicated that he was the instigator of controversial rhetoric.
Another American Islamic leader who spoke on the attack was Read more