A strikingly broad-swath of religious liberty groups has written a letter (PDF) the office of the Secretary of Defense contending the military’s recent religious accommodation policy “change” doesn’t go far enough. In one point they make:
Even if an original accommodation request is approved, religiously observant service members would be required to submit a new request for the same accommodation every time they receive a new assignment…
In other words, a Soldier allowed to have a beard for religious reasons would have to re-apply with every assignment change for a continuing accommodation — and could conceivably have to shave in the interim.
The letter was signed by groups as diverse as the ACLU, ADL, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Becket Fund, Chaplain Alliance for Read more
FoxNews Todd Starnes reports on a “Bible controversy” at Maxwell AFB that is, actually, many years old:
For more than a decade new military recruits at Maxwell Air Force Base – Gunter Annex in Alabama have received a Bible from Gideons International volunteers. But that tradition has come to an end after volunteers said they were told by the military that they would no longer be allowed to personally distribute the pocket-sized Bibles to recruits.
A MEPSCOM spokesman explained a little bit more:
Gaylan Johnson, is a public affairs officer for the Military Entrance Processing Command. He told me the Gideons’ side of the story is “not strictly true.”
“They can place their literature within our facility, but they are not allowed to stand there and talk with applicants or hand them (the Bibles) out.”
Unfortunately, this is the product of an old ACLU complaint — from Read more
Somewhere a military staff officer is scratching out a memorandum restricting the creation, use, and publicity of the long-running tradition of creating unit patches…
When Walt Disney created thousands of military unit insignia in World War II — all for free — he understood the positive contributions such insignia brought to morale, camaraderie, and the mission. While a majority of aircraft nose art faded with the end of WWII, units still supported those “intangible” military necessities with slogans, unit mottoes, and unit patches.
Decades later, those traditions continue, though relatively new widespread publicity has dampened some of those earlier spirits.
In one recent famous example, a group of atheists complained that a government office had the word “God” (Deo, actually) on their organizational patch. The unit acquiesced and replaced it with “miracles.” The atheists weren’t totally pleased, but they seemed to let it go since they’d had a victory over Deo. As was noted at the time, unit and mission patches are often a collection of relevant imagery, inspirational quotes, inside jokes, and even subtle references to classified details. For example, a list of mission patches here explains the inclusion of a cluster of six stars on a patch is actually 5+1 — referring to Area 51.
More recently, the National Reconnaissance Read more
In an interesting twist, the ACLU recently praised a decision by the US Army that “protect[ed] First Amendment rights” of Soldiers — but it was precisely the opposite position of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, who claims his MRFF is the “sole group” providing soldiers that very protection. The ACLU said [emphasis added]:
[There have been] reports that Army diversity trainings have labeled various religious and socially conservative organizations as “extremist” or “hate groups.”
In response to some of that criticism, Army Secretary John McHugh recently suspended these trainings. The ACLU commended that move in a letter to the Army last week that dispels the perception left by some that the trainings were uniquely anti-Christian. The ACLU also urged the Army to better protect the First Amendment rights of military personnel going forward and offered suggestions on how to do so.
The Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition similarly applauded the decision by the Army to end and standardize those briefings. (To be fully accurate, the Read more
On September 1st the annual Combined Federal Campaign will begin. Most troops will know this because a unit rep will come and ask them if they want to donate. Contributions can be made automatically from a servicemember’s paycheck.
As has been noted before, the CFC hosts a wide variety of “charities,” including groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Focus on the Family. This year, Michael Weinstein likely hopes to make up his year’s losses, as his MRFF appears Read more
A recent article published by the ACLU was by-lined “Colleen Farrell, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.” Captain Farrell slammed the US military for its “charade” in following the now-rescinded policies prohibiting women from certain combat roles. As Captain Farrell describes it, the policies were not that females couldn’t serve in combat roles; as executed, the policies prevented females from serving greater than 45 days in a combat role:
Because of the combat exclusion policy, women Marines Read more
Update: Respected Christian leader John Piper agrees with calling Obama’s statement “blasphemous.”
The ACLU is applauding the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health (MARCH) for Military Women Act, which would allow US military facilities to conduct abortions if paid for privately.
This sentence pretty much summed up the ACLU position:
It’s not hyperbole to say that overturning the ban on privately-funded abortions on military bases can save lives.
Yes, they actually said killing innocent children “saves lives,” but in the current culture that shouldn’t be too surprising. The Baptist Press noted President Obama said pro-life laws — which are an effort to protect children — are “impeding progress.”
“After decades of progress there’s still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than Read more
Update: Former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt says the Marines should be considering Christianity, not Buddhism:
“I think getting rid of anxiety is important. We need to decrease the suicide rate among our Marines,” he agrees. “But Buddhism is not the way to do that. I think Christianity is intellectually a better way to promote healthy mental awareness.”
Like Chaplain Lee, Klingenschmitt wonders where the normally vociferous critic Michael Weinstein is right now [emphasis added]: Read more