Early in June, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s so-called “religious freedom” group ensured the sanctity of religious liberty in the US military by forcing the leaders of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to pull down a banner advertising Vacation Bible School at the chapel:
An advocacy group that says it fights “church/state violations and noxious abuse” in the military said Friday it forced the removal of a banner advertising a Vacation Bible School program from the main gate at the Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation…said the banner’s slogan, “Jesus [Power] Pulls Us Through,” was objectionable when displayed at the base entrance.
Here’s the thing: VBS has been extremely popular at military bases throughout Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, self-described defender of religious freedom in the US military, returned to rare form yesterday and excoriated the US military because it published a story about a US Soldier — and she’s a Christian.
In what is likely an intentional Public Affairs and recruiting effort, the military has long had a practice of publishing personal interest stories on its troops. While there are many “average Americans” profiled, there are also many stories about US troops with relatively unique and significant experiences. There are many stories about growing up in impoverished or oppressive countries, living in fear or struggle before coming to America, and wanting to “give back” to the country they feel has given them so much.
About a week ago, the US Army published such a story about US Army SPC Zahraa ‘Katya’ Frelund, who, as an Iraqi teenager in 2009, ran away from what she knew and into the arms of US troops on a US Army base in Baghdad. The Army Captain she met there told her Read more
With the airwaves and mainstream media clogged with politics and other drama, issues of religious freedom in the US military largely fell to the wayside these past few months. The reason is that most (not all, but certainly most) military religious freedom issues begin as attacks from outside the military. With an inattentive public, those who would attack the religious liberty of US troops for their personal benefit haven’t been able to gain public traction – or have simply chosen not to, given the low monetary return they would see for their efforts.
Thus, organizations like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have been either silent or largely ignored these past few months. (Mikey Weinstein’s Facebook page has been entertaining, as he’s been paying to promote otherwise ignored posts only to have the comments filled with “Who is this guy?” and “Why is this #$%$ on my feed!?!”)
With a new administration, there will certainly be changes that Read more
What began as a powerful and effective ministry to US troops in southern California (highlighted here last year) has now begun to spread. Soul Survivor Outdoor, which seeks to minister to US troops by providing “soul care,” has expanded to Texas, where it recently served the troops at Fort Hood following a redeployment. As reported in an official Army release:
Chaplain Karen Moore, battalion chaplain for 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment…organized for members of her battalion to participate and interact with SSO. She also helped assist sister battalion, 1st battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, become involved with the program as well.
In the end, 55 US troops participated in Read more
Most people know by now that the US now has a “Space Force” along with its Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Much ado has been made about many very serious issues in that force, like what to call the Servicemembers in that force (Space men? Space cadets?) and whether their new seal looks too much like Star Trek and not enough like Battlestar Gallactica.
Another issue in the background has been the Space Force hymn. The Force doesn’t have one yet, but officials have noted that a song is a Service tradition, much like its uniform and rank structure.
Apparently, one song has already been offered – and it immediately stirred controversy with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The song was written by a former Air Force officer named James Linzey, who was an Air Force and Army chaplain. (Linzey has an interesting history as well, as he was Read more
- The US Air Force hasn’t had a male Secretary of the Air Force since 2013.
- The outgoing Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force is African American. The incoming CMSAF is female and Asian American.
- The incoming Chief of Staff of the Air Force is African American.
- Of the last three Chiefs of Staff of the Air Force, two were Jewish.
- Both the US Army and US Air Force (acting) have been led by a homosexual Service Secretary.
Every day it seems there’s an article about the first woman to do something in the Air Force (with an all-female crew), or the Army (again), or both together, or the first black woman to do something in the Air Force, or the first Sikh woman to do something in the Army, or how many different ways the Air Force can launch aircraft (or ICBMs) with only one skin color or gender on board (and the Navy does it, too).
See “Diversity: You’re Doing it Wrong.”
Yet, somehow, the US military, and the US Air Force in particular, manage to be accused of institutional racism, gender discrimination, religious extremism, and intolerance — by those very same people. In recent days, US Air Force and other military leaders have been practically tripping over themselves running to microphones, hand-wringing and expressing contrition for unclear — or imagined — affronts. Or, in other cases, those leaders are simply making direct accusations against their own Service [emphasis added, capitalization original]: Read more
With politics, COVID-19, and racial tensions enrapturing the US public these past few months, there’s been little to discuss in the realm of military religious freedom. There has been little public movement in the case of the Manchester VA and the POW Bible. The decision to censor US Army chaplains, while significant, has quickly fallen out of the public view. (The conversation continues at higher levels, where there may yet be a coming resolution.)
As a result, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein – with a self-described “laser like” focus on religion in the US military – has had to find something else to talk about.
It started with a Weinstein complaint about headstones in a VA cemetery in San Antonio, TX, where German POWs from World War II are buried. It seems many Read more
On Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) sent a letter (press release, PDF) to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper highlighting the US Army’s kowtowing to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s demands to restrict religious liberty in the Armed Forces. Some of the language may seem very similar to what was written on this site the same day [emphasis added]:
The [MRFF] has been waging a campaign against the chaplaincy, and frankly, against religious freedom in the military generally. In response, the Army has censored chaplains’ religious speech based on the flawed and arbitrary notion that military chaplains may not carry out their official duties outside of a religious ceremony that occurs within the four walls of a chapel.
As with other members of Congress in the recent past, Cruz reminded Read more