The Religion Clause links to articles that detail the case of David Tenenbaum, a civilian Army employee who was investigated for allegations of spying for Israel. Tenenbaum, an Orthodox Jew, had claimed that he was mistreated because of his religion in the course of the investigation. The Inspector General investigated as a result of a Congressional request.
Spanning back to 1992, the Inspector General’s report noted that while various officials stated that religion was a factor in the security investigation, it was “impossible” to know years after the fact whether it was “the personal practice of his faith or the intelligence community assessment that Israel might attempt to exploit any practitioner of that faith…”
Regardless, the IG stated that Tenenbaum received “unusual and unwelcome scrutiny because of his faith…[which] would undoubtedly fit a definition of discrimination.”
Casey Weinstein, son of MRFF founder Michael Weinstein, was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB with his wife while they were both on active duty. He remains in the area looking for a job as a reservist. Now, a local Jewish paper is carrying an article in which Michael Weinstein has said
Wright-Patterson Air Force base is a “hotbed” of “unconstitutional religious intolerance.”
The younger Weinstein reportedly complained about a “prayer in Jesus’ name” that was a “violation of Air Force regulations” (a conclusion which is actually incorrect). He also “got in [the] face” of his superior over an email about John Gibson’s The War on Christmas. [Casey Weinstein, a 2004 Air Force Academy graduate, was a fairly vocal supporter of his father’s accusations against the military even while the younger Weinstein was on active duty. (He also posted an interestingly accusatory comment here.)] Read more
CNN’s AC360 blog updates yesterday’s story with information on the government’s move to dismiss the suit. In a commentary that unapologetically sides with Specialist Hall, CNN’s Randi Kaye notes that Hall, an atheist,
…isn’t seeking money, just religious freedom…
Kaye then expresses shock that the defendant would have the gall to ask for the suit to be dismissed:
[T]he U.S. Government, the very government Hall agreed to serve and risk his life for, wants his lawsuit tossed out.
The only response included in the commentary is Hall’s admission that much of the premise of the government’s motion to dismiss is correct: he did not use any of the in-place military processes to address his griveances, because “nothing ever gets done.”
In a fairly well written argument, the government has filed a motion to dismiss the ongoing lawsuit against the Defense Department brought by Army Specialist Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. (The response was due, and filed, on the 8th.) Salient points are below (emphasis added), though many were previously already talked about here.
The short version: he failed to use the systems in place to seek redress; the solutions he requests are already in place; and he does not allege harm by any “institutional bias” for which the only support is a list of vague references.
On the request that Secretary of Defense Gates be required to prevent Constitutional violations by his military subordinates:
Secretary Gates already exercises his authority to prevent constitutional violations through the Army’s existing Equal Opportunity Program — which Specialist Hall failed to invoke…
The Kansas City Star, which has increasingly become an outlet for press releases from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, noted that Weinstein’s MRFF has complained of a broadcast by the Trinity Broadcasting Network that contains military content. The 2-hour video, the “Red, White and Blue Spectacular” hosted by Christian music singer Carman, was filmed in 2003 and rebroadcast in 2005 as a military-focused independence celebration. The video is scheduled to be rebroadcast this year.
The primary complaint was an interview with then-Major General Van Antwerp, who was also then-President of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Carman was also given a tour of an Aegis cruiser and an interview with the uniformed Pentagon Chaplain.
Weinstein, who calls this a “repeat” of the “putrescent disgrace” of the Christian Embassy filming Read more
Blogs and news articles have highlighted the fact that General Norton Schwartz (official bio), the current selection to replace outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley, is Jewish. They emphasize that he is inheriting a service with “issues” involving evangelical Christians. The Forward notes that Michael Weinstein, who has sued the Defense Department for alleged Christian bias, has already asked to meet the General, even though he has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
Regrettably, the unnecessary focus on religion distracts from what many in the Air Force find more interesting: the fact that the new Chief of Staff will be the first non-fighter/bomber pilot to lead the Air Force in its history. (An official list of all Chiefs of Staff can be viewed here.)
As previously noted, the National Day of Prayer is May 1st, by virtue of Presidential declaration and in accordance with US law. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has complained that the NDP “task force” (associated with Focus on the Family) has coordinated with military bases and Chaplains for the observance. Using his oft-repeated hyperbolic and alliterative talking points, Weinstein promised
that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation fully [intended] to include this despicable collusion in [their] current Federal litigation against the Department of Defense as yet another stunning example of a pernicious and pervasive pattern and practice of unconstitutional rape [of] religious liberties…
Jason Leopold, a former journalist and frequent voice for the MRFF, took issue with the fact that coordinators for the task force were required to sign a statement that ‘confirmed their commitment to Christ.’ Read more
As previously noted, US Army soldier Jeremy Hall, represented by the MRFF, has sued the Army. The Associated Press picked up on the story, and it is now on CNN and Fox.