A few years ago, it seemed issues of religion in the military – scandals, some might say – dominated the news cycle for weeks out of the year. Every December the “top ten” religion media stories of the year included several regarding the US military. More recently, however, such “scandals” have fallen out of the news. To be sure, issues of religion in the military still pop up every now and then, but now those stories tend to involve actual issues of religion in the military, not manufactured outrage. Media stories are now far more likely to be about the changes that allow a Sikh to wear a turban or beard than about some random member of the military saying “have a blessed day” or having a Bible on their desk.
Part of the reason for this change has been the rise of religious liberty organizations who have defended the religious rights of US troops. The Becket Fund, First Liberty Institute, the ACLJ and others like them have become prominent and public defenders of religious freedom in the US military. While they were available to troops as a resource for many years, these organizations have gradually become more proactive, to the point that recent changes in US law and military policy have been proposed – and successfully passed – because of these groups. These laws and policies have dampened some of the prior years’ flail because they unified and standardized the military’s response to faith and free exercise. Rather than a cycle of military bases having repeats of the same kerfuffle, overarching policies govern the reaction of the entire DoD. (Sometimes.)
The end result is Read more
Celebrating “Diversity”…You’re Doing it Wrong.
Documented histories of the Tuskegee Airmen indicate the famed World War II aviators “overcame segregation” to become some of the best combat units of the war, and that their continued excellence in service ultimately contributed to the de-segregation of the US military long before the rest of American society.
In a twist of apparently unintended irony, the US military has repeatedly chosen to celebrate the Tuskegee triumph over segregation by…instituting segregation [emphasis added]:
The aircraft was a C-5M Super Galaxy assigned to the 22nd Airlift Squadron, and its 11-person crew was all African-American. This historic mission was created to honor the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen…
This flight was historic since it was the first time an all African-American C-5M crew was formed to honor the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen and highlight the diversity of the Air Force…
“It is important that the Air Force is diverse enough to have an all African-American crew…”
To make the crew work, they needed to de-conflict schedules…“The barriers to making this happen were just coordinating a time when everyone could be available between other training events, leave and other obligations.”
In other words, a US Air Force unit went out of its way to coordinate the schedules of personnel and aircraft to make sure it could man a mission with an entire crew of one particular skin color.
That was 2018, but it continued in 2019 and the trend continues today, with US Air Force units bending Read more
Last fall, US Army BGen Timothy Connelly transferred the stole of his command chaplain from outgoing Chaplain (Col) Charles “Chuck” Lynde to incoming Chaplain (Col) Charles Causey.
As has been discussed before, the changing of the stole appears to be a “tradition” largely only within the US Army. The passing of responsibility from one chaplain to Read more
The US military often gets accused of promoting or endorsing religion — particularly when it has the gall to associate religion with the uniform. The vast majority of the time, such complaints are baseless, as the mere presence of religious content and the military context does not constitute anything impermissible. In fact, it is often virtually required.
One religious practice that gets a pass is yoga. A product of eastern religions — which military articles on the topic sometimes, but not always, avoid — the military proudly publishes articles on Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines endorsing the practice.
And the same people who complain about associations between Christians and the military seem to have no problem associating Buddha and the military.
A recent article documents US Air Force Master Sergeant Kathleen Myhre’s 30-day journey to India to become a certified yoga instructor. Now, MSgt Myhre occupies a space in the Airman and Family Readiness Center, where she evangelizes those who enter on the value of her ‘spiritual’ endeavors: Read more
Last July, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF complained to the US military that Shields of Strength was combining US military trademarks with Bible verses on novelty dog tags. SoS did have authorization to use the military trademarks, but the Army told SoS to stop to prevent the “negative press.” A few weeks ago, the Marines did the same thing. First Liberty has come to their defense.
In an op-ed published at the Military Times earlier this week, First Liberty’s Mike Berry told the story:
Kenny Vaughan started Shields of Strength (“SoS”). SoS is a small, faith-based company from Texas that produces military-themed items inscribed with encouraging Bible verses. For more than two decades, Kenny has been making these inspirational replica dog tags for service members and first responders. To date, SoS has donated hundreds of thousands of its replica dog tags to military units…
Over the years, SoS replica dog tags became so popular and so nearly ubiquitous that, according to author and historian Stephen Mansfield, “aside from the official insignias they wear, [the SoS dog tag] is the emblem most often carried by members of the military in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Berry and First Liberty sent Read more
Remember Shields of Strength?
In July, this site highlighted the complaint by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein that caused the US military to tell Shields of Strength to stop putting Bible verses on their military-themed faux dog tags.
As noted at the time, contrary to Weinstein’s claims, the military is free to license its trademarks to anyone it wants — so long as it doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs when it does so.
And that’s precisely what it did with the license to SoS.
First Liberty has now taken up the cause of Kenny Vaughan and Shields of Strength, sending a letter to the Army telling them what they already know: They’re guilty of viewpoint discrimination — restricting Shields of Strength only on the basis of the content of their beliefs. Said Mike Berry of First Liberty:
“The government grants licenses to people and entities all the time,” Berry said over the telephone. “What the government can’t do is discriminate when it grants those licenses. … It is basically saying ‘we’re happy to grant licenses to anyone, as long as it’s not religious.’ And that’s clearly what the Army is doing here.”
That’s precisely what the military is doing — and they’re clearly wrong to do so.
In July, Weinstein tried to Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and his research assistant, Christine “Chris” Rodda have long claimed they fight for “religious freedom” in the military. The name of their charity, after all, is the Military “Religious Freedom” Foundation. They’ve also said in the past that they’re not opposed to Christians’ free exercise. Weinstein himself even once said he’d “give [his] last drop of blood” to support Christians’ rights to their beliefs.
Except, it seems they’re not telling the truth.
Weinstein has repeatedly Read more
Christine “Chris” Rodda is Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s research assistant for his “charity,” the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. She wrote a blog late last Friday and posted it on Daily Kos and Medium, attacking ChristianFighterPilot.com by claiming retired Air Force Captain Cole “Twitch” Holloway was “maligned” in an article posted here on Thursday.
It’s odd that Weinstein and Rodda chose to go after that article. It’s a short piece, and its tone is benign. There are many more articles here of more direct impact to the MRFF — say, those noting Weinstein is a charity millionaire or that Rodda’s outrage is quite selective — yet they chose to go after one that didn’t even mention them. Presumably, Rodda thought they could get emotional value out of the topic — so long as people didn’t bother to read the original article, and instead only saw her “interpretation” of it.
(Why not engage over an article that actually discusses the MRFF and religious freedom? For all his bluster and bloviating, Mikey Weinstein is scared. But that’s a topic for another time.)
As is typical, Rodda struggled with the truth. She titled her blog “The “Christian Fighter Pilot” Sinks to New Low — Maligns Pilot with ALS for Not Being Christian”. Despite the fact she intentionally didn’t link to the article, many are aware of it, and even some of Rodda’s own readers were unable to find where anyone had been “maligned” within it. In her defense, Rodda did Read more