As noted at the Religion Clause, the Baltimore Sun carries an article on the ACLU’s most recent threat of “legal action” against the US Naval Academy for holding “mealtime prayers.” The Academy said it
does not intend to change its practice of offering Midshipmen an opportunity for prayer or devotional thought during noon meal announcements.
Such challenges have been going on for years, and were discussed here more than 2 years ago. The Alliance Defense Fund has volunteered to help defend the Navy against the ACLU.
As noted on the local Gazette, Walter Netsch, Jr, designer of the famous and sometimes controversial Air Force Academy cadet chapel, has died.
The Colorado Springs Gazette covers the President’s commencement address at the US Air Force Academy on Wednesday.
Our nation is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair – the ideology of Islamic extremism. In today’s struggle, we are once again facing evil men who despise freedom, and despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule. And once again, our nation is called to defeat these adversaries – and secure the peace for millions across the world. And once again, our enemies will be no match for the men and women of the United States Air Force….
Be officers of character and integrity. Keep your wings level and true. Never falter; do not fail. And always know that America stands behind you.
Thank you. May God bless, and congratulations to the Class of 2008.
See the full text.
In a typically scathing commentary, Mr. Michael Weinstein lambasted the move of General Caslen, currently Commandant at West Point, to lead an infantry division out of Hawaii. Caslen was one of several flag officers who appeared on a Christian Embassy video investigated by the Inspector General last year (previous post).
Expanding his hyperbolic and alliterative repertoire, Weinstein called this a “tragic trifecta of travesty” and likened the General to Iraqi militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. He also criticized Caslen’s association with OCF, which he said was a
virulently fundamentalist Christian organization devoted to gaining unconstitutional control of the U.S. armed forces…
As with everything else, Weinstein has promised to add this to his ongoing lawsuit (in fact, he said it would go to the “head of the list”).
Last week, a few West Point cadets got a break from the daily grind and took a drive to Jersey City, where they visited a variety of religious organizations. According to several news reports, the sights included Christian, Coptic, Hindu and Islamic religious facilities. The cadets slept on the floor of the mosque in sleeping bags for two nights.
The trip was part of a “Winning the Peace” class, whose objective is to help the cadets understand that decisive armed combat is not necessarily solely responsible for “victory.”
The US Military Academy should be lauded for exposing young officers-to-be to the cultural elements (including religion) they will experience once commissioned. The USMA cadets demonstrated mature, independent and critical thought, even when at least one of their speakers Read more
As previously noted, the Colorado Springs Gazette has reported that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation will present an “alternative view” on Islam and the War on Terror at the Air Force Academy on April 9th.
As one of the speakers, Weinstein has maintained that the military is overrun with fundamentalist Christians, who he recently referred to as
homophobic, misogenistic (sic), anti-Semitic and Islamophobic [with] a virulent desire to subordinate the Constitution … to…the weaponized gospel of Jesus Christ. (the Aspen Times).
To counter this, he plans to show portions of a soon-to-be-released documentary (in which he and his family play a role), which focuses on
Christian anti-Semitism as the model for all religious hatred, exposing the cross as a symbol of a long history of violence against Jews and Moslems.
Reza Aslan, another invitee, is also on the record sharing Weinstein’s beliefs.
The Academy forum is being held under the auspices of academic freedom.
More than a week after the initial melee, the New York Times picked up the story on the Naval Academy chapel practice of dipping the US flag at the altar (previously noted here).
There is nothing significantly new in the article, though it does seem to indicate that the initial hysteria over the incident (generated primarily by Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation) was misplaced. (For example, no one “disobeyed a direct order.”)
Interestingly, columnists are quick to reference the US flag code, which says the flag should never be dipped. However, the US flag code is a guide, not a punitive regulation. Previous attempts to make it punitive were struck down by the Supreme Court as unConstitutional. Thus, while someone may disagree with the practice, it is not prohibited.
NYT reference courtesy of the Religion Clause, and recently updated on ADF.
According to the Associated Press, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization that has lambasted the Air Force for allegedly supporting evangelical Christianity, is being invited to the AF Academy to present its view of Islam. This follows the previous panel on terrorism, which had three panelists that the MRFF criticized for being Christian and unqualified. (See previous posts, 1 & 2.)
Two invitees are members of the MRFF board. Joseph Wilson was a Clinton era consultant on African affairs and acting ambassador to Iraq. Reza Aslan is an academic teacher and writer on Islam. Aslan recently went on the record (on a CNN blog) criticizing the Academy for hosting “fundamentalist Christians” during the last panel.
The third and final invitee is Weinstein himself, a Reagan era lawyer and founder of the MRFF. It is unclear what his qualifications are to speak as an “expert on Islam.”
Just as the MRFF accused the three “former terrorists” of ulterior motives, it seems unlikely that the MRFF–which has expressed no interest in Islamic issues–would be a legitimate source of “balance” for a previous panel on Islamic terrorism. The MRFF has a political agenda centered on evangelical Christianity. According to a San Diego news site (which implied that the MRFF was getting “equal time”), Weinstein has indicated that “deprogramming” may be a part of their upcoming panel–even though no accusations of religious impropriety occurred after the previous panel.
What is clear is that non-Islamic religious issues will be a focus of Weinstein’s visit.
As reported on the ADF and Religion Clause.