Several months ago, Mr. Michael Weinstein made some boisterous but virtually ignored comments about the reasons for his conflict with the Air Force. During an interview with the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix Online (and repeated in his April 25th debate at the Air Force Academy), Weinstein said
I am not at war with Christianity or with evangelical Christians, but with a subset: postmillennial, reconstructionist, dominionist, evangelical Christianity.
(During the Academy debate, Weinstein said “pre-millennial,” rather than post, and added “dispensational” and “fundamentalist.” In an email reply to a request for clarification, Mr. Weinstein indicated that pre-millennial was a “correction” to his previous descriptors.) While dramatic, there have been few public responses. Weinstein apparently enjoys a status as one of the few “religious” Americans who can call for the “defeat” of another religious sect and not be roundly criticized by the press and the public. More recently, Weinstein made similar assertions when he said
We have a Christian Taliban within our US military, the Pentagon has become the penacostalgon and this administration has turned the Department of Defense into a faith based initiative…Dominionist Christians [are] praying and preying on non-Evangelical Christians.
Though his original lawsuit against the Air Force Academy was dismissed, Weinstein’s crusade continues. He has already announced his intentions to file a new federal lawsuit to overcome the “technicality” that scuttled the first. To understand why Weinstein acts as he does, it is interesting to analyze who he says he is “at war” with. Read more
According to local news reports, the debate between Weinstein and Sekulow at the Air Force Academy was “cordial.” Presumably, both sides are working on their after-action reports, as none have yet been published. According to the Fox report, Weinstein had demanded to speak at the Academy and the debate was the format the Academy agreed upon. The only content yet known about the debate includes Weinstein’s assertion that Jewish servicemen not be allowed to wear a yarmulke, while Sekulow maintained they should.* Weinstein also made known his intentions to file another lawsuit against the Air Force, this one including plaintiffs that have standing. The debate can be heard here.
*Neither Weinstein nor Sekulow were entirely correct about the yarmulke. While Rabbi Goldman did lose his lawsuit in 1986 in which he sued to wear the yarmulke, the 1988 (updated in 2003) version of Department of Defense Instruction 1300.17 specifically allows the wearing of a yarmulke. There are still “exceptions,” but the Jewish headgear is the only religious apparel specifically mentioned.
Multiple press releases announced the settlement of the lawsuit against the Veterans’ Administration that sought to add the pentacle to the list of “approved” symbols of faith. Under the terms of the settlement, the VA will add the symbol to the list. The VA must also replace headstones previously provided to Wiccans with no marker. Ironically, the AU has claimed ‘victory,’ though this agreement did not meet the AU’s previous request that the “unconstitutional” list of emblems be abandoned.
President Bush announces the annual National Day of Prayer here. The day will be celebrated on May 3rd this year. An interesting history of the tradition is contained in former President George H. W. Bush’s 1989 proclamation:
Since the approval of the joint resolution of the Congress on April 17, 1952, calling for the designation of a specific day to be set aside each year as a National Day of Prayer, recognition of such a day has become a cherished annual event. Each President since then has proclaimed a National Day of Prayer annually under the authority of that resolution, continuing a tradition that actually dates back to the Continental Congress, which issued the first official proclamation for a National Day of Prayer on July 12, 1775. By Public Law 100-307, the first Thursday in May of each year has been set aside as a National Day of Prayer.
See President Bush’s Easter message here.
On 12 March 2007, General Peter Pace (bio), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave an interview to the Chicago Tribune in which he was asked his thoughts on the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of homosexuality in the military. Part of his reply has been the center of some debate:
“I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts… I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior.”
Literally hundreds of internet “blogs” and other media sources have pontificated about the General’s comments Read more
A Department of Justice press release recently announced the “First Freedom Project,” which is billed as an effort “to strengthen and preserve religious liberty throughout the nation.” The announcement comes on the heels of President Bush’s proclamation for Religious Freedom Day (which was also virtually ignored by the press). Included in the initiative is a “Report on Enforcement of Laws Protecting Religious Freedom” over the last five years as well as a new website, www.firstfreedom.gov. The Report is a 23MB file but is worth the read.
Of note, according to the Report, from 1992 to 2005 complaints of sexual discrimination increased 6%, national origin discrimination complaints increased 8%, and racial discrimination complaints increased 9%. Read more
The Alliance Defense Fund has commended the DOJ for the “First Freedom Project.”