As reported at the Religion Clause, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has permitted the optional inclusion of “So Help Me God” in the oath of naturalization. Referring to the test used by the Supreme Court regarding the Bladensburg Peace Cross, the Court said:
We follow the Supreme Court’s most recent framework and apply American Legion’s presumption of constitutionality to the phrase “so help me God” in the naturalization oath because we consider the inclusion of similar words to be a ceremonial, longstanding practice as an optional means of completing an oath. And because the record does not demonstrate a discriminatory intent in maintaining those words in the oath or “deliberate disrespect” by the inclusion of the words, Perrier-Bilbo cannot overcome the presumption.
That amount of legal defense almost seems ridiculous, given that the plaintiff was complaining about an optional phrase. She wasn’t trying to avoid saying something she didn’t want to; she wanted to prevent others the option of saying it. She’d already been given more than one option to omit the phrase: Read more
Chris Rodda — Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s sometime research assistant — wrote a column yesterday at the Washington Examiner saying “Bibles don’t belong on POW remembrance tables.” (Two years ago Rodda said the same thing, though it was only self-published on the Huffington Post. The Examiner opportunity was apparently created by Mike Berry’s article on the same website.)
It’s possible an editor chose her title (and also word-limited the normally very verbose Rodda), but it’s worth noting Rodda never gets around to saying why Bibles ‘don’t belong on POW tables.’
First, she says that, historically, early POW/MIA remembrance tables didn’t have Bibles. She revisits her previous strawman by saying the American Legion doesn’t include Bibles in its remembrance ceremony, as if that is remotely relevant. Her point was long ago rebutted: The issue isn’t what the Legion — or any other group — chooses to do; it’s what they prohibit others from doing.
No one is traipsing around the country demanding Bibles be included on POW/MIA tables — at the American Legion or anywhere else. What some Americans are doing is Read more
By now you’ve probably seen the reports saying Michael “Mikey” Weinstein filed a complaint (PDF, through his lawyer) about a Bible at a POW/MIA display at Okinawa, Japan. What these reports don’t seem to convey is this is just Mikey being Mikey. Every couple of months he makes these kinds of complaints; they hit a high point every now and then, fade into the background later, and maybe catch peoples’ attention again.
The POW/MIA display is a piggy bank for Weinstein. If his coffers get low, he can pull one of these from his files and try to get attention.
To prove the point, consider that the subject of this latest complaint at US Naval Hospital Okinawa is a POW/MIA table that is on permanent display. It’s been there for years. Nothing Read more
At The Ada News, a local paper from just outside Oklahoma City, Richard Putnam wrote a short piece on “Christians and Violence” entitled “The Veterans’ Chaplain.”
Putnam, who apparently supports the concept of a military and non-pacifistic defense, also says:
How…do we square the business of defending ourselves and our loved ones with Jesus’ explicit command to not engage in violence? The answer is, of course, that we cannot. We cannot obey Jesus’ command to remain nonviolent and engage in battle to protect our families.
The short column is best summed up here [emphasis added]: Read more
The American Humanist Association’s bid to have the Bladensburg Peace Cross war memorial torn down (or its cross member sawn off) continued this month with oral arguments at the Fourth Circuit court of appeals. The AHA lost their case last year and appealed in December 2015.
The First Liberty Institute, which is defending the cross, accurately Read more
Chris Rodda seems to have returned from her apparent exile from the MRFF by posting a blog at the Huffington Post — about a really old story. In a move unusual for the normally verbose Rodda, the article was relatively concise. In typical Chris Rodda fashion, however, it relied heavily on playing loose with the truth.
Referring to a months-old controversy, Rodda’s article was entitled “Apparently, the American Legion Hates Jesus” and described the American Legion’s use of a POW/MIA remembrance table that does not include a Bible:
According to the fundamentalist Christian outrage brigade, not having a Bible on a POW/MIA table can only be the work of the most diabolical of anti-Christian organizations. Obviously, only an atheist group, or, according to Fox News’s Todd Starnes, “a special kind of low-life,” would remove God’s Word from the display!
So, I guess this means that the American Legion, with its Bible-free POW/MIA table item list, must be an anti-Christian, atheist organization, right?
As with Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, the truth is insufficiently sensational, so Rodda has to Read more
The Bladensburg Cross, ca 1920-1950.
In what is presumably an effort to prove that it is not “anti-Christian,” Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF has joined a lawsuit (PDF) with the American Humanist Association demanding the removal of the Bladensburg, MD, “Peace Cross.” The Peace Cross was erected in 1925 by the American Legion. Weinstein says (PDF)
The Bladensburg Cross is a Christian symbol on government property…
Because the Bladensburg Cross is a Christian symbol, it sends a message to all of our non-Christian MRFF clients that they are outsiders and unwelcome in the Town of Bladensburg. This message is particularly harmful in the context of a war memorial. It sends Read more
Update: The VA’s treatment of Christianity over the past Christmas has caught the attention of Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL), among others.
A few reports have covered the Veterans’ Administration policy that requires Christmas to be filtered based on its Christian content:
A VA official quoted the policy which is in the Veterans Health Administration handbook:
“In order to be respectful of our veterans’ religious beliefs, all donated holiday cards are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team of staff led by chaplaincy services and determined if they are appropriate (non-religious) to freely distribute to patients. We regret this process was not fully explained to this group and apologize for any misunderstanding.”
Apparently, this wasn’t the only Christmas event in which Christianity was Read more