Gen Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently attended an iftar meal ending Ramadan fasting in Baltimore. Generally speaking, such events should be non-events, though senior military leaders publicly attending religious events occasionally brings criticism (normally when they’re Christian events).
One notable statement from Gen Neller [emphasis added]:
Neller shared some stories about his travels as a Marine to places where he was the minority as a white, Catholic American. He spoke about using what he knows about Islam to find common ground with Iraqi leaders during a year spent in Anbar province.
“We’re all sons of Abraham – why are you fighting me?” Neller recalled telling them.
It’s a fascinating statement on several levels. It’s a valid Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein currently has an opportunity to display something he rarely has to date: principle.
May 15th will be the first day of Ramadan. In honor of that Islamic holy event, a unit of the US military will wish its neighbors Ramadan blessings:
The Star Tribune reports that when [Minnesota Army National Guard] leaders hold their annual training camp next month, they will be displaying a lawn sign with the words “To Our Muslim Neighbors: Blessed Ramadan.”
Every December, Mikey Weinstein argues the presence of displays acknowledging Christmas is illegal, a loathsome constitutional violation, and generally a crime against humanity. On occasion he has said or implied he would cease his hate-filled ravings if said signage was accompanied by a host of other other/non-sectarian symbology or moved to the grounds of the base chapel.
Here’s his chance. Now he can say the same thing with Islam as the target instead of Christianity.
In an effort to show Read more
In a column published by the Air Force Times, US Air Force SSgt Preston Haskell called the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen David Goldfein, “wrong.”
Kind of a bold move, but he has an interesting point of view, including this tidbit on whether the Air Force values diversity over unity:
A truly pervasive cultural phenomenon is plaguing our military, and that is one of political correctness. For example, one of my most cherished feelings I have about our military is how integrated and multifaceted we all are. I absolutely love that I work with people from almost every background, race and religion our nation has to offer. So why would the Air Force encourage division?
You are allowed to be proud, and even proclaim that pride, in being black, Latino, homosexual, atheist or transgender, yet I cannot 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
For the second time, the US Navy has denied the application of Dr. Jason Heap to become a “humanist chaplain” in the sea service. A Navy board had supported his appointment; when word of that decision leaked, members of both the House and Senate wrote the Navy in protest. Those congressmen have now revealed that the Navy has rejected Heap’s application, again.
Heap’s application as been widely opposed by religious liberty groups, largely because humanism isn’t a religion — and the chaplaincy is religious.
On that point, Hemant Mehta, the poorly Read more
Responding to the leaked news that the Navy is considering a “humanist” chaplain, Republican Senator Roger Wicker wrote a column published at FoxNews that said an atheist should not be put in the “undeniably religious position” of a military chaplain:
I oppose the appointment of a “secular-humanist” chaplain, and I have formally requested that the secretary of the Navy and the chief of naval operations reject this application. I am not alone in my request. Twenty-two of my colleagues in the Senate have joined me in this effort.
Senator Wicker notes with some irony that Read more
Though not officially announced, a few websites and organizations have revealed that the Navy Chaplain Appointment and Retention Eligibility (CARE) Advisory Group has recommended that Jason Heap, an atheist, be appointed a US Navy chaplain. (The official silence may be because CARE’s decision was leaked in violation of Navy policy, which dictates the sessions be “closed” with members forbidden from “discussing deliberations or recommendations”.)
Heap had previously sued the Navy over its denial of his application to become a chaplain. The lawsuit was largely dismissed, though some claims proceeded. One site claimed the suit was subsequently “settled” under unpublicized terms.
Navy regulations say the CARE group is primarily composed of senior chaplains and other senior leaders. CARE ensures the “full spectrum” of professional qualifications is considered when someone applies to be a chaplain. The objective, in context, is to prevent people from becoming chaplains just because they meet the bare minimum requirements.
CARE’s role is to validate Read more
Army Specialist Samuel Keenan of the Massachusetts National Guard recently wrote an article out of Hanscom AFB entitled “Getting in the foxhole: how chaplains serve nonreligious service members” — apparently a subtle play on the “no atheists in a foxhole” phrase.
In short, the article uses the example of Guard Air Force Chaplain (Capt) Derek White to show that chaplains serve everyone, even those without a religious faith:
“It doesn’t matter if they’re religious or if they have no religious preference,” said White. “The fact that I am the person that they feel they can share their life with… that’s a really great feeling…”
“Regardless of religious preference, or non-preference, everybody hits a wall with human limits,” said White. “Chaplains provide hope that the wall is not an obstacle that cannot be overcome.”
That’s a valid discussion — even if the “non-religious” issue feels somewhat forced to the exclusion of everything else. Based on the article, it seems Keenan, more than Chaplain White, focused on the non-religious aspect. There’s no clear reason why.
Unfortunately, Keenan relied on an “interesting” source for part of his article: Read more