The Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists sent a letter (PDF) yesterday to Secretary of Defense James Mattis calling on him to act to end “coerced religious observances” within the military. Alison Gill and Rebecca Markert write that
The complainants allege, among other things, that facility organizers regularly include scheduled prayer in graduation ceremonies, cadets who opt not to attend worship services on Sundays are instead given menial tasks to perform, and instructors regularly lead recruits in prayers prior to administering tests.
The letter provides no examples. It appears to Read more
The Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial in Rockdale County, Georgia, was vandalized in December. A plaque, two statues, and the globe they held, all made from bronze, were ripped from the site. Three people have been arrested.
At this point, there’s no immediate indication the vandalism was connected to the nationwide purge of “racially offensive” monuments. One source estimated the cost of repairs at more than $200,000.
Another question, however, is whether the monument, repaired or not, will survive the newfound fury of atheists.
Atheist Jason Torpy and others like him have been on a crusade Read more
Hemant Mehta, an atheist blogger at the pay-per-click Patheos, celebrated a “gotcha” against one-time Senatorial candidate Roy Moore when Mehta decided how to describe the faith of their lawyer.
The “issue” started when Kayla Moore, Roy Moore’s wife, reacted to claims they were anti-Semitic by noting “one of our attorneys is a Jew.”
Truth be told, the “I have friends who are…” defense is always awkward — but it is also common. (Even Michael “Mikey” Weinstein uses it in defending against claims he’s anti-Christian.) But not yet satisfied, critics began an in-depth investigation to figure out who this mystery Jew was — because, well, who knows?
Finally, Kayla Moore simply told them: Read more
Petty Officer 3rd Class Eduardo Otero is a US Navy Sailor and an atheist, as he describes in a uniquely toned article entitled “Not Applicable: The Story of an Atheist, a Navy Chaplain and a Search for Hope.” Otero, a Navy “mass communication specialist” (essentially a public affairs officer), wrote the article in a staccato future perfect tense — making it seem at times like an odd trip down a future memory lane that is unsure of its own footing.
Ultimately, it boils down to PO3 Otero desiring counseling from a chaplain, and he met with a Catholic priest, Chaplain (LTjg) Jason Burchell.
And that’s really about it. The article eventually becomes a “chaplain 101” story in which Otero seems to have transitioned his counseling into interviews with his chaplain, both personally and professionally.
Some of what Otero cites might seem like fodder for Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s crusade against Read more
The US military has approved the awarding of a Silver Star to Father Aloysius Schmitt, a Catholic chaplain who was aboard the USS Oklahoma when it was struck and capsized during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. More than 400 Sailors perished. Chaplain (LTjg) Schmitt is reported to have helped several men through their only means of escape — a porthole — and when it appeared he might get stuck in the porthole, declined the opportunity to escape himself, allowing others to live.
The Oklahoma was righted in 1943, and Read more
A county-run animal shelter’s annual “Blessing of the Animals” is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by American Atheists in New Jersey. As noted at the Religion Clause:
The complaint in American Atheists, Inc. v. Bergen County, objects to the use of public resources and employee time to promote and host a ritual that is performed by Franciscan clergy annually in honor of St. Francis of Assissi.
A member of the American Atheists — who knew about the blessing ceremony in advance — happened to show up in person (to adopt a pet, of course) just as the ceremony was occurring. Just in time to very conveniently be offended.
While a county pet shelter may not seem relevant to the US military, the contrived Read more
The US Air Force Academy announced that the racial slurs written on message boards at the USAFA Prep School in September were written by one of the supposedly targeted black cadets [emphasis added]:
In a written statement Tuesday, the academy said, “We can confirm that one of the cadet candidates who was allegedly targeted by racist remarks written outside of their dorm room was actually responsible for the act. The individual admitted responsibility and this was validated by the investigation.”
Even at the time a few people cautiously wondered if the incident was too “obvious” to be true, particularly in light of the other racial incidents going Read more
Over the past couple of years a group of self-described atheists and humanists has been hosting an alternative Sunday service for trainees at Air Force basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. The effort was largely led by Victoria Gettman, a former US Army Sergeant on whose behalf Michael “Mikey” Weinstein once promised (and, predictably, failed to deliver) an “aggressive” federal lawsuit.
Gettman and her cadre have been lauding the attendance numbers at their non-theistic weekly gathering — including the fact it has now reached 1,000, the maximum capacity of the venue granted by the Air Force, meaning they have to turn trainees away. But Gettman’s explanation has an interesting caveat [emphasis added]: Read more