Yesterday, the Federal District Court in New Hampshire allowed the lawsuit against the VA Medical Center POW/MIA display to proceed, and it also permitted the Northwest POW/MIA Network, which erected the display, to intervene. (The POW/MIA Network is represented by First Liberty.) In one of the more interesting arguments, the presiding judge questioned whether the plaintiff had standing because he’s a Christian. Judge Paul Barbadoro [emphasis added]
acknowledged no shortage of case law and legal precedent regarding religious symbols on public property…
But Barrington resident James Chamberlain, the plaintiff in the challenge, is a Christian who attends a Congregational church, and therein lies the rub, according to the judge.
Barbadoro said he knows of no prior case stemming from a Christian challenging a symbol of Christianity.
“If he were an atheist, he would have standing and that would be clear,” the judge said.
There are certainly legal reasons to require “standing” in a judicial proceeding — but 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
Vice President of the United States Mike Pence spoke at the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis yesterday, and he had a message about a lawsuit against the Manchester VA for its display of a Bible on a POW/MIA table (previously discussed here):
You might’ve heard even today that there’s a lawsuit to remove a Bible that was carried in World War II from a Missing Man Table at a VA hospital in New Hampshire. There’s a lawsuit underway. It’s really no surprise because, under the last administration, VA hospitals were removing Bibles and even banning Christmas carols in an effort to be politically correct. But let me be clear: Under this administration, VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones.
We will always respect the freedom of religion of every veteran of every faith. And my message to the New Hampshire VA hospital is: The Bible stays.
A standing ovation followed.
Pence is Read more
As previously noted and for those that missed it, the US Supreme Court vacated the ruling against the cross standing in Pensacola’s Bayview Park and sent it back to the lower courts “for further consideration in light of” the Bladensburg cross ruling (which allowed the cross to remain). In the original Bayview ruling, Read more
The Air Force Times reports on Air Force SSgt Garrett Sopchak, who just became the first US Air Force Airman to be allowed to wear a beard — because he adheres to Norse Heathen religious beliefs.
The Army granted a similar waiver last year, and beard exemptions have been granted for a growing number of Sikhs and Muslims — though not atheists.
Sopchak, a 28-year-old aerospace ground equipment craftsman at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, on July 8 become the first airman to get approval to wear a beard in accordance with his Heathen faith.
Sopchak said in a Tuesday interview that in the old sagas, a beard was Read more
A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion. Militantly secular regimes have carried out such projects in the past…
– Justice Samuel Alito
Yesterday the US Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision that the Bladensburg Peace Cross could continue to stand and be maintained by the state — even though it was “undoubtedly a Christian symbol.” (Of note, the case was reversed and remanded “for further proceedings,” not simply dismissed.)
Some reports focused on the multiple opinions published by the justices, though these reports largely seemed to come from critics who believed that emphasizing the “splintered” nature of the ruling would Read more
The Marine Times reports that Col Dom Ford, commander of Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School at Twentynine Palms, California, wrote an email to his staff recently in which he called suicide “shameful” and encouraged his Marines to “read some scripture.” According to the article, which does not include the body of the email, Col Ford
…called on Marines to read some scripture to boost their religious and spiritual wellness and help combat the suicide epidemic.
“Suicide is a shameful act. Period. Getting help is not,” Ford wrote to Marines under his command. “Life isn’t fair, and every day won’t be rainbows and sunshine.”
The colonel explained in the email that increased mental health issues may be a “byproduct” of a “godless age” amid Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein announced that his MRFF — which is currently suing to have a Bible removed from a POW/MIA display at the Manchester VA — had staged a stunt in which a “client” placed a stack of texts on the POW/MIA table of varying faith traditions.
The VA said it would not “tolerate” organizations messing with the displays and would remove the other books, which mirrored their other forceful statement protecting the display.
Importantly, having other faith texts placed on the display is not the “relief sought” in the current lawsuit. The suit seeks only the removal of the Bible.
James L. Chamberlain, the token plaintiff and Read more