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
Noted last year when she began training, 1Lt Saleha Jabeen has now graduated the chaplain’s course and has become the first female Muslim chaplain in the entire US military:
The graduation ceremony for BCC Class 21A was a historic event as the Air Force aims to foster a more diverse and inclusive service…
“I did not have to compromise on any of my religious beliefs or convictions,” Jabeen said. “I am surrounded with people who respect me and are willing to receive what I bring to the table as a woman, a faith leader, and an immigrant.”
Jabeen’s entrance into the military as a chaplain is Read more
President Joe Biden’s reversal of the military ban on transgenders hadn’t even been announced for minutes before it claimed its first controversy.
US Army Chaplain (MAJ) Andrew Calvert posted a comment on the Army Times Facebook page discussing Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s support for repeal. As quoted by the Army Times in a follow-up story, Chaplain Calvert said
“How is rejecting reality (biology) not evidence that a person is mentally unfit (ill), and thus making that person unqualified to serve,” Andrew Calvert posted on the Army Times Facebook page Monday. “There is little difference in this than over those who believe and argue for a ‘flat earth,’ despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary…
“The motivation is different,” Calvert continued, “but the argument is the same. This person is a MedBoard for Mental Wellness waiting to happen. What a waste of military resources and funding!”
First of all, it used to be a standard talking point in training 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
Chris Rodda has long been a “creative” writer, despite her sometimes claim to be an apparent amateur historian. While she has been quick to call out the errors of others with whom she disagrees, she ignores the errors of those who are on her side. She has also published a bevy of, to put it nicely, misleading writings. For someone so quick to call others “liars,” she has a very unique view of the truth.
With that in mind, Rodda published a blog yesterday with an attention-grabbing title:
National Defense Authorization Act to Include Military Training on How to Force Religion on Others.
Like much of what she writes, though, her title wasn’t true. (Most obviously, the NDAA hasn’t left either side of Congress yet, much less gone through conference committee or to the President. In other words, the NDAA doesn’t “include” anything yet.)
The short version of a long, meandering blog (Rodda has never been one for being succinct), is that Rodda is upset about Senate bill 4049, which was introduced in the Senate only a couple of weeks ago. Within it, the Senate requires the US military to conduct training on “Religious Accommodation” that must include:
- Federal statutes, DoD Instructions, Service regulations regarding religious liberty and accommodation for members of the Armed Forces
- The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
- Section 533 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
- Section 528 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016
Of that content, Rodda takes issue only with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The RFRA is fairly short, and it says the government cannot “substantially burden” exercise of religion, with some Read more
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
As previously discussed, the Bayview Cross in Pensacola, Florida, had been challenged on the same grounds as the Bladensburg Peace Cross, with accusations it was an unconstitutional endorsement of the Christian faith.
The original court ruled against the Bayview Cross — reluctantly, essentially asking the Supreme Court to overrule it. The Supreme Court remanded the Bayview Cross case after its Bladensburg ruling.
Now, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has finally formally ruled the Bayview Cross can stand: Read more
Last Friday the MRFF made a rather shocking accusation, accusing a Navy installation of violating the US Constitution — for doing exactly what its founder, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, said they should do.
According to the press release picked up by the AP, US Navy Chaplain (Cmdr) Richard Clay Smothers sent an email out Naval Station Newport advertising an upcoming leadership series entitled “Lead Like Jesus.”
Marty France — a retired USAF BG who joined the MRFF board — decried the “violations” to
the base commander, [US Navy] Capt. Ian L. Johnson, urging him to “move quickly on this blatant violation of the Constitution (that we both swore to uphold) as well as DoD regulations.”
Remember, the email came from the chaplains, not any commander. Here’s the kicker: This is the quote from Mikey Weinstein just a couple of years ago:
“There’s no problem with this [religious campaign] if it’s done through the chaplain’s office,” Weinstein said.
That was a reference to Operation Christmas Child, but it Read more