Updated with statement from Tony Perkins.
US Senator Roger Wicker expressed concern, and a US House member is now calling for hearings on the US military’s treatment of “prominent conservative Christian leaders.”
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said
“I am concerned about it,” Kingston said. “It shows that the Pentagon is using a systematic practice of weeding out preachers and leaders of the clergy who are willing to give biblically-based messages and sermons Read more
Last year, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State complained to the military that former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt was representing himself as a current Chaplain. In the end, Klingenschmitt responded by adding a disclaimer to his publications saying he was a former Chaplain. Rob Boston, one of the lead voices of the AU, subsequently said Read more
An interesting lawsuit has been filed against the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and CalTech after an employee was reportedly demoted and reprimanded for handing out DVDs at work.
David Coppedge sued JPL (pdf) claiming harassment and religious discrimination. Coppedge had reportedly distributed copies of two DVDs that supported the concept of Intelligent Design to “interested” and “willing coworkers.” The DVDs themselves make no reference to religion, though his supervisors reportedly said they “amounted to ‘pushing religion’ and were ‘unwelcome’ and ‘disruptive.'” Coppedge notes that no one ever expressed those sentiments to him prior to his reprimand; he was told it was his responsibility to correctly “interpret a co-worker’s “body language.”” The written warning threatening termination Read more
In an interesting turn of events, during his North Carolina vacation President Obama visited Billy Graham and his son, Franklin Graham — after a week that saw the Pentagon rescind an invitation to the younger Graham over his religious views. Though the visit was initiated after the Pentagon’s announcement, it is likely Obama’s intent was to visit the elder Graham. The Obamas received a gift, and the two gentlemen prayed for each other:
At the end, Graham presented Obama with two Bibles — one for him and the other for first lady Michelle Obama, Ross said. The two men then prayed together, with Obama first praying for Graham and then Graham “concluded with a prayer for the president, his family and his administration,” according to Ross.
Update: Franklin Graham apparently got the ear of the President — and a seemingly supportive (or diplomatic) reply — over the recent incident:
In reference to the invitation being rescinded, Franklin Graham told The Associated Press that he told the president that activists were trying to remove all religion from the military, and he said Obama pledged to look into it.
The “disinvitation” of Franklin Graham from the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer has continued to raise the ire of a variety of public figures. Read more
It is now common knowledge that Franklin Graham’s invitation to speak at the prayer day hosted by the Pentagon Chaplaincy was “rescinded.”
Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins confirmed today, that at the Army’s request, the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office had contacted Graham to withdraw the invitation extended to him to be the main speaker at the Pentagon’s observance of the National Day of Prayer.
As a result, the National Day of Prayer Task Force is also not participating in the Pentagon event. Graham responded:
I regret that the Army felt it was necessary to rescind their invitation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force to participate in the Pentagon’s special prayer service. I want to express my strong support for the United States military and all our troops. I will continue to pray that God will give them guidance, wisdom and protection as they serve this great country.
(Some have claimed the NDoP itself is unConstitutional, consistent with Read more
A FoxNews article highlights the criticism of the US military for an invitation to Franklin Graham for a May 6 day of prayer.
A military spokesman had an interesting statement:
“We are an all-inclusive military. We hold observances throughout the year. This one happens to be a Christian-themed event,” [Army Col. Tom] Collins said.
This is a somewhat unique statement, because many people seem to be assuming a military chapel event has to be “inclusive.” However, the Colonel Read more
The Congressional Research Service is a statutory office that provides research services at the request of members of Congress. The CRS says its work is “authoritative,” “accurate,” “objective and nonpartisan.”
The CRS recently published a report entitled “Military Personnel and Freedom of Religious Expression: Selected Legal Issues,” by attorneys R. Chuck Mason and Cynthia Brougher.
The 20-page report Read more
Since the demise of its last lawsuit seeking an end to public religious expression in the military, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has been searching for a cause. (Michael Weinstein promised to file an appeal, though it appears he has not done so.) After the Trijicon scandal was quickly defused, Weinstein made a furtive effort to revive it a few months later–with little public reaction. He also tried to attach his organization to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” media frenzy without much success. Weinstein is struggling for relevancy even among his own supporters; a recent fundraiser garnered few contributors.
In his latest bid for publicity, Weinstein demanded Read more