As previously noted, Military Religious Freedom Foundation creator Michael Weinstein spoke at last week’s character symposium at the USAF Academy, part of its annual National Character and Leadership Symposium. Initial indications are that his welcome was warmer this time, with press reports indicating he received standing ovations rather than the jeers of a previous visit.
According to reports, he repeated his somewhat inflammatory claims that
his foundation is at war with some fundamentalist Christians in the military who put their faith ahead of their oath to defend the Constitution.
In the past five years, during which he has been in constant litigation with the Department of Defense, Weinstein has never proven that any active duty military member has taken any actions that put anything “ahead of their oath” to the Constitution. While the loaded phrase makes him sound noble, it is a Read more
As recently noted in the article on There Are No Atheist in Foxholes, men and women in the military–indeed, in the world–often sense the hand of a higher power when they survive what should otherwise have been a fatal encounter.
Another recent example was that of US Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Koenig, who was shot in the head…but the bullet didn’t penetrate his helmet. He sported a welt and the shock of being hit, but returned to his position to continue fighting. Koenig’s reaction was typical of many:
“I don’t think I could be any luckier than this,” Lance Cpl. Koenig said two hours after the shooting.
Others saw the hand of Someone bigger:
“He’s alive for a reason,” Tim Coderre, a North Carolina narcotics detective working with the Marines as a consultant, told one of the men. “From a spiritual point of view, that doesn’t happen by accident.”
With enough patience one can find many similar stories of people Read more
In order to help “Jewish men and women in the US armed forces maintain their religious connection,” the Aleph Insitute hosted a Military Shabbaton and Training Conference in Florida. The event brought
together more than 300 service personnel, lay leaders and congregants for presentations by military leaders.
Key military speakers included Fort Bliss commander Maj Gen Howard Bromberg; Rear Adm Robert Burt, Navy Chief of Chaplains; and Maj Gen Douglas Carver, Chief of Chaplains for the Army.
The Aleph Institute noted the importance of the Chaplaincy in the military:
According to Rabbi Sanford Dresin, Aleph’s director of military programs, military chaplaincy has its roots in the First Amendment and its guarantees of religious freedom for all citizens.
At the same time, the institute seemed to misunderstand the role of Chaplaincy. For example, the article notes that Read more
The phrase “there are no atheists in foxholes” is not without controversy. (In fact, one Soldier even went so far as to file an official complaint because an officer used the “discriminatory” phrase.) The old saying, whose origin is unknown, isn’t meant as a moral conclusion or a statement of fitness. It simply characterizes the belief that in extreme situations and faced with mortal danger, many people are open to the concept of some form of higher power.
There are certainly examples of the opposite truth. A New Hampshire publication Read more
Local Texas news reports indicate that the reaction to the Fort Hood massacre may be having some reaching and current consequences.
The Dallas Morning News reportedly asked why Louay Safi was allowed to lecture about Islam on US military bases. Initially, the Army praised Safi, but it subsequently announced that he had been banned from military bases due to a criminal inquiry initiated by NCIS. According to The News, Safi Read more
The US Army’s master resilience training school will open on Fort Jackson in April.
The school is part of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, the Army’s latest attempt to train Soldiers not only for war, but also for life. To that end, the CSF program describes “five dimensions of strength:” Physical, Emotional, Social, Family, and Spiritual.
The Army apparently recognizes one of the most common displays of spiritual strength among its Soldiers: the poster for “spiritual strength” contains a photograph of uniformed and armed Army members praying in a circle.
US Army Graphic
Ironically, this public expression of spirituality is occasionally imperiled by critics who feel that the displays inappropriately connect the US military with religion (more specifically, Christianity). For the time being, the military’s hypersensitivity to religious offense has not yet restricted public displays of Read more
The National Prayer Breakfast was already a controversial event this year, as at least one group had urged President Obama to skip the annual event attended by sitting Presidents for the past few decades.
He chose to attend, but he did not avoid controversy. He addressed the concerns of those who did not want him to attend by specifically speaking against a law about homosexuals in Uganda. The normally smooth orator also managed to mispronounce a military rank, calling a Navy medic a “corpse-man” rather than a “corpsman” (properly pronounced “core-man”) (not once, but three times), and he expressed the thought that non-theists Read more
A blog by a USAFA cadet reaffirms prior comments that the new pagan circle at the US Air Force Academy is in an area frequented for other purposes, and even has a unique spiritual history.
The area is collectively referred to as the “LZ,” and the clearing has been used–for years–as a station on the hill for which to conduct “training” for fourth class cadets. The author of Wonderings and Wanderings has a post on the 14th of January that says his squadron used the LZ for training–3 days before the “cross incident” occurred (which, incidentally, was also a long weekend). At the time, no one knew Read more