Category Archives: Government and Religion

National Day of Prayer, 7 May 09

Updated: Obama’s proclamation can be read here.  Text below the fold. 

This year’s National Day of Prayer is Thursday, 7 May 2009.  As discussed every year at about this time, the President proclaims a National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday in May in accordance with Public Law 100-307 (history).

Much ado was made of President Obama’s failure thus far to make the proclamation, in addition to questions that circulated over whether he would continue the tradition of hosting an observance at the White House.  (Former proclamations by President Bush, which normally preceded the day by several weeks, have been removed from the White House website.) It has now been reported that Obama will make the proclamation, as required by law, but not host a White House observance of the day.

Last year Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation threatened to add military associations with the National Day of Prayer task force (a private group) to his DoD lawsuit, though he never followed through on his threat. Read more

Book Review: Stories from a Soldier’s Heart

Alice Gray and Chuck Holton
Multnomah Publishers, Sisters, Oregon, 2003.
Topic: Inspirational

Excellent collection of military stories, most in the first person, with a Christian perspective.

Recommended for those who enjoy inspirational military vignettes. Not specifically geared for fighter pilots.

This book is available from Amazon.

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President’s Veterans’ Day Message, 2008

Veterans’ Day (in America, Armistice Day to the rest of the world) is designated as a time to honor those who have served and currently serve in the Armed Forces.  America’s military men and women sacrifice their families, liberties, and even their lives in defense of the liberties of others–even those with whom they may disagree.

From President Bush’s annual proclamation:

Our country is forever indebted to our veterans for their quiet courage and exemplary service. We also remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom’s defense. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. On Veterans Day, we remember these heroes for their valor, their loyalty, and their dedication. Their selfless sacrifices continue to inspire us today as we work to advance peace and extend freedom around the world.

New Weinstein Lawsuit Case Law

Prior to dropping its previous lawsuit against the Department of Defense, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a new lawsuit on behalf of an Army soldier who was required to attend military formations at which “sectarian Christian” prayers were delivered.

The relief sought by the MRFF is not that the prayers end, but that the soldier not be required to attend those mandatory formations.  The unwieldiness of implementing this relief would have the effect of requiring all mandatory formations (whether in fact or perceived) to be free from sectarian prayer (which the 11th Circuit said would be impossible to define), or simply free from any prayer at all.

In its current filing, the MRFF does not attempt to prove that the prayers advanced a religion Read more

Jewish Trainee Case Concluded & Commented

According to the Associated Press, the Army has given non-judicial punishment to a soldier who assaulted a fellow trainee (previous discussions).  The assault has been widely reported in concert with the victim’s complaints of discrimination because of his Jewish faith; however, the Army indicates there was no evidence the incidents were related.  Michael Weinstein disagreed, saying

Michael Handman was turned into a punching bag for the Army because of his religious faith.

The incidents were also reported at the blog Jews in Green, where CAPT Neil Block, USN (Ret), has commented.  He was the retired Jewish officer and local leader brought in to provide an assessment of the situation, and his comments are enlightening.

Also noted at the Religion Clause.

MRFF Withdraws Lawsuit

According to a variety of press reports, Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has withdrawn its lawsuit filed on behalf of Jeremy Hall against the Department of Defense.  The decision comes after months of delays in the MRFF’s deadline (and days prior to the current one) to file a response to the military’s motion to dismiss.

Some reports have implied that the decision was based on Hall’s plan to leave the Army next year; however, since the lawsuit was announced last year Hall has widely reported that he planned to leave the Army.  The decision to abandon the case now is inconsistent with Weinstein’s frequent comments in support of it, including a recent assertion that a post-lawsuit IG visit would bolster the case.

The more likely cause Read more

Jewish Soldier Complains of Discrimination

As noted at Fox News, a US Army trainee complained of religious discrimination after superiors used remarks denigrating to the Jewish faith and required him to remove his yarmulke.  (As previously noted, some religious attire is authorized in uniform; in fact, the yarmulke is the only such attire specifically mentioned.)

The soldier also was the victim of assault.  According to Fox News, the Army does not believe the events are connected.  Michael Weinstein, however, not only believes they are, but believes that those responsible must be Christians.

[T]hese ever more frequent, tragic matters [are the result] of unbridled, military-sponsored Christian religious oppression…

Like every allegation, Weinstein said he intends to include this in his lawsuit(s).

Also noted at the Religion Clause.

MRFF Files New DoD Lawsuit

Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has asked for two delays in the required timeline to file a response to the DoJ’s motion to dismiss the MRFF’s ongoing lawsuit.  Reasons for the requests included the “number of pages” of supporting material in the DoJ motion, and the requests have been unopposed by the DoJ.

It appears, though, that the law firm representing the MRFF actually had other work keeping them busy: they have now filed a second lawsuit (text).  Like the first, it takes a single “issue” (in this case, the requirement that soldiers attend events in which sectarian prayers are delivered) and lumps in every possible accusation against religion in the military.  Much of the lawsuit is verbatim from other filings.

For example, it once again includes unspecified accusations against Officers’ Christian Fellowship.  It also includes references to the Ft Wood “Free Day Away,” which, as noted, has already been investigated by the Inspector General and found to be in compliance with regulations.  It also still includes complaints about the 523rd Fighter Squadron, which no longer exists, and hasn’t for some time.

Unlike the first lawsuit, it does say that the primary plaintiff, Specialist Dustin Chalker, sought permission Read more

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