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
Despite recent scandals regarding the DoD’s alleged classification of Christians as “extremists” — including an Army-wide standdown in Equal Opportunity training over the controversies — the DoD says it will continue to use the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “reference” in its Equal Opportunity training.
A DoD spokesman answered that while the agency will remove “hate groups” information provided by the SPLC from the training materials used at its Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), the DoD will continue to use the SPLC’s data in its “non-federal reference material” for DEOMI.
The SPLC — whose work has been specifically cited in recent Army briefings — is one of several “non-Federal” sources the DoD plans to continue using:
“Some of the non-Federal entities used to inform DEOMI’s training,” said Christensen, “include: Anti-Defamation League; Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism; Know Gangs, Political Research Associates, Read more
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel credited the Anti-Defamation League with a turnabout at the US Air Force Academy with respect to religion:
The Department of Defense is proud – very proud – to have worked with the ADL to make our military more open, and more equal, and more just. One example of this historic partnership is at the Air Force Academy, where only a few years ago there were troubling accusations of Read more
The Colorado Springs Gazette, local to the US Air Force Academy, carried a variety of positive comments from participants in USAFA’s second Religious Respect Conference. In fact, USAFA chaplains are advocating for their programs to be implemented Air Force-wide. In “AFA religious respect program could soon go service-wide,” reporter Erin Prater noted
Chaplains hope to transition the Religious Respect Training Program throughout the Air Force as soon as possible, chaplain Maj. Shawn Menchion said…
David Oringderff, a local Wiccan leader, had high praise for USAFA’s efforts: Read more