Category Archives: Government and Religion

Religious Freedom Day, 16 Jan 2010

Updated with President Obama’s proclamation.

Each year since 1993 the President has declared January 16th to be “Religious Freedom Day,” in order to remember the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (see 2009).  President Obama does not appear to have issued his proclamation for tomorrow yet (now available), though the day has been a topic of discussion in varying forums across the internet.

Jefferson’s statute continues to be a strong expression for the value of religious liberty even today.  Though the statute has been discussed in many places and in great depth, there are two important points to take from the statute:  Read more

Army Trains Soldiers in Positive Thinking

In its latest attempt to provide Soldiers with mental resilience, the US Army is requiring each of its Soldiers to receive psychological training conducted through a $117 million program by the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center.  The 10-day course

teaches concepts such as focusing on what goes right, expressing gratitude, and analyzing and correcting negative views of ambiguous events.

In short, it is “the power of positive thinking.”  The program is not without its critics, who blast the psychological theory as Read more

You Can’t be a Good Christian and a Good Soldier

The “interim CEO” of the Stand Up America Project had much to say about the ability of a religious adherent to be a loyal citizen or member of the military:

There is no doubt that a devout [Christian] must proclaim the exclusivity of [Christ] or he is an apostate. Therefore, he must always be a [Christian] first, and that means he is not only unable, but also forbidden from acting in any other fashion. If he is in our military, he may take orders, and obey, but at some level, when the order runs afoul of [Christianity], he must revert to [Christianity] first.

Except, he didn’t exactly say that.  Scott Winchell railed against Muslims in the long piece, ultimately saying  Read more

Hasan’s Superiors Worried, but Promoted Him

As noted at a variety of sites, a Defense Department review has found that Army Maj Hasan’s superiors were routinely concerned about his performance and his views, but continued to promote him anyway.  This seems to already confirm what has previously been said about Hasan: people knew and were concerned about him.

Between 2003 and 2007, Hasan’s supervisors expressed their concerns with him in memos, meeting notes and counseling sessions. He needed steady monitoring, especially in the emergency room, had difficulty communicating and working with colleagues, his attendance was spotty and he saw few patients.

The question that isn’t (officially) answered is why they didn’t do anything, though speculation has already arisen that people were afraid to say anything out of fear of being considered prejudiced against Islam.

The discussion in the article about officers being promoted despite poor performance Read more

Atheist Lawsuit Against US Military Dismissed

Chalker v Gates, the lawsuit which pitted the MRFF and an atheist Soldier against the Department of Defense, has been dismissed.  The case was brought by Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and US Army Specialist Dustin Chalker.  The primary complaint was that Chalker was forced to attend formations at which Christian prayers were given, though Weinstein used the lawsuit as a forum to accuse the military of promoting Christianity.

According to various reports,

US District Judge Kathryn Vratil ruled Thursday that Chalker failed to exhaust all available remedies before filing suit.

Weinstein has said he will appeal the decision.

The ruling that dismissed the lawsuit (pdf) is slightly more complex than the media summary.  The ruling stated:  Read more

Weinstein v Ammerman, Continued

In September, Michael and Bonnie Weinstein filed a civil lawsuit against the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches and Gordon Klingenschmitt.  The primary issue seems to be Klingenschmitt’s “imprecatory prayer” against Weinstein and Barry Lynn, as was noted in a previous analysis.  (Weinstein has amended his lawsuit twice in the intervening months, but only the original is currently publicly available.)  This case will be interesting for religious freedom in general, not just in the military, since it may delineate what control–if any–the government is willing to place on public prayer.  Initial commentators, including allies of the Weinsteins, doubted they would succeed in their suit.  However, despite the initial furor, there has been little in the media since.

The case continues, however.  It appears one of the initial issues will be jurisdiction, which is a legitimate question in this case.  Weinstein is a resident of New Mexico, the CFGC is headquartered in Texas, and Klingenschmitt is presumed to be a resident of Colorado.  Weinstein is suing in Texas district court.  Since the CFGC is in Dallas, it would appear to make sense that Weinstein would sue the CFGC in Texas.

However, the CFGC’s connection to the complaint is tenuous.  As noted already, the precipitating action in this litigation appears to be a prayer by Klingenschmitt, not anything done or said by the CFGC or its head, Jim Ammerman.  The CFGC’s role in the prayer is nonexistent, except insomuch as Klingenschmitt is a Read more

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