In a fairly well written argument, the government has filed a motion to dismiss the ongoing lawsuit against the Defense Department brought by Army Specialist Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. (The response was due, and filed, on the 8th.) Salient points are below (emphasis added), though many were previously already talked about here.
The short version: he failed to use the systems in place to seek redress; the solutions he requests are already in place; and he does not allege harm by any “institutional bias” for which the only support is a list of vague references.
On the request that Secretary of Defense Gates be required to prevent Constitutional violations by his military subordinates:
Secretary Gates already exercises his authority to prevent constitutional violations through the Army’s existing Equal Opportunity Program — which Specialist Hall failed to invoke…
The Kansas City Star, which has increasingly become an outlet for press releases from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, noted that Weinstein’s MRFF has complained of a broadcast by the Trinity Broadcasting Network that contains military content. The 2-hour video, the “Red, White and Blue Spectacular” hosted by Christian music singer Carman, was filmed in 2003 and rebroadcast in 2005 as a military-focused independence celebration. The video is scheduled to be rebroadcast this year.
The primary complaint was an interview with then-Major General Van Antwerp, who was also then-President of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Carman was also given a tour of an Aegis cruiser and an interview with the uniformed Pentagon Chaplain.
Weinstein, who calls this a “repeat” of the “putrescent disgrace” of the Christian Embassy filming Read more
Blogs and news articles have highlighted the fact that General Norton Schwartz (official bio), the current selection to replace outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley, is Jewish. They emphasize that he is inheriting a service with “issues” involving evangelical Christians. The Forward notes that Michael Weinstein, who has sued the Defense Department for alleged Christian bias, has already asked to meet the General, even though he has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
Regrettably, the unnecessary focus on religion distracts from what many in the Air Force find more interesting: the fact that the new Chief of Staff will be the first non-fighter/bomber pilot to lead the Air Force in its history. (An official list of all Chiefs of Staff can be viewed here.)
As previously noted, the National Day of Prayer is May 1st, by virtue of Presidential declaration and in accordance with US law. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has complained that the NDP “task force” (associated with Focus on the Family) has coordinated with military bases and Chaplains for the observance. Using his oft-repeated hyperbolic and alliterative talking points, Weinstein promised
that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation fully [intended] to include this despicable collusion in [their] current Federal litigation against the Department of Defense as yet another stunning example of a pernicious and pervasive pattern and practice of unconstitutional rape [of] religious liberties…
Jason Leopold, a former journalist and frequent voice for the MRFF, took issue with the fact that coordinators for the task force were required to sign a statement that ‘confirmed their commitment to Christ.’ Read more
As previously noted, US Army soldier Jeremy Hall, represented by the MRFF, has sued the Army. The Associated Press picked up on the story, and it is now on CNN and Fox.
If ever Michael Weinstein needed proof that cadets could not be brainwashed by religious propaganda, it was his own presence at the Air Force Academy Wednesday afternoon that provided it.
Weinstein was invited to speak at the Academy after he complained about the speakers at February’s Academy Assembly, the topic of which was “Dismantling Terrorism.”
Unlike any of the previous speakers, however, Weinstein made no claim to have any authority on the ongoing war on terrorism. Instead, Weinstein has made a name for himself, and the “foundation” he created, by repeatedly suing the US military for its alleged support of Christianity. Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), formed just a few years ago, has sued the Air Force Academy for Christian favoritism (the suit was dismissed), more recently sued the Secretary of Defense on behalf of a Kansas soldier (notably, after running ads seeking plaintiffs), and even threatened to add the Academy Assembly incident to his current lawsuit.
Weinstein did not even suggest he would offer a “balancing” perspective on Islam or global terrorism, which is what other advocacy groups had called for. Instead, he said he wanted to “deprogram” the cadets from the content they heard in February. While the point of the Academy Assembly was terrorism, Weinstein very evidently made Christianity the topic of his MRFF symposium. Read more
According to AF.mil, Chad Hennings–an Air Force Academy graduate, former A-10 pilot, and former defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys–recently spoke to airmen at the Pentagon on the Air Force’s “Wingman Day.”
Hennings, now retired, has his own website and motivational speaking career. While his faith doesn’t come across as a pivotal factor on his website, he is fairly well known for his Christianity. He also founded Wingmen Ministries.
The AP has released an article describing how Weinstein dropped his lawsuit against the Army (discussed in previous posts 1, 2) so he could re-file it, adding an allegation that Specialist Jeremy Hall, his plaintiff, has been passed over for promotion as a result of the ongoing lawsuit. The text of the new suit is not yet available. As noted in the previous commentary, the lawsuit previously listed virtually every Christian ministry to the military as illegal entities, and continued to cite “Constitutional violations” about units that no longer existed.
As reported on the Religion Clause.