The blog of Operation Reveille, which says it is “Helping Service Personnel with Cross-Cultural Ministry,” has some interesting advice regarding how to handle potentially controversial situations in the current combat theatre.
For example: Can I give a Bible when asked? Read more
The US military has been accused of allowing its members to illegally use its official government email system to distribute messages with religious content (see background here). These actions have been called “unConstitutional” and “a violation of military regulations.”
This e-mail distribution has violated the separation of church and state [and] violates well established [military regulations].
In one specific incident, a base Chaplain asked the staff to forward a Bible study announcement. Did that message violate regulations, or any other policy or standard?
The shortest, most accurate answer: Read more
While those who encourage the “mixing” of faith and the military profession are sometimes criticized, it appears there are specific efforts to promote the “mixing” of non-faith and the military. In an interesting twist on encouraging leadership development, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers is offering a $500 “educational grant for military and nontheist leadership and activism.” The award is “particularly” aimed at military cadets. Read more
Organizations who oppose religion in public life (including the military) generally dismiss as ‘ludicrous’ the assertions that their goal is to scrub all vestiges of religious expression from government institutions, like the military.
American Atheists recently undermined that defense when they decried President Obama’s use of “God bless you” in his address to school children yesterday. The logic was particularly disturbing because it is the same as some activists who oppose religious associations in the military– Read more
In the vein of the American Atheist’s complaint against NASA, a variety of similarly-minded groups continue to bring accusations of wrongdoing against government-associated religious organizations. For example, the ACLU has criticized the Gideons providing religious materials while in some association with a government entity (including the Gideons’ interaction with the US military).
Controversies notwithstanding, the ubiquitous nature of the Gideons ministry almost inevitably leads to the never-gets-old joke:
How do they get those Bibles in all those locked hotel rooms?
Well, in 1996 evidence arose that the Gideons were successful in getting a Bible into one of the most inaccessible nightstands in the world; in fact, it’s not even in the world. Read more
On August 26th, NASA published a fairly detailed article on what the astronauts were taking up on Discovery when it finally launched last week, as well as the historical precedent that allowed astronauts to take up personal items (as noted in the previous post).
Two days after that article, American Atheists issued a press release criticizing NASA’s decision to allow Mission Specialist Patrick Forrester to take up a part of Nate Saint’s airplane. The group said the action was a “violation of the separation of church and state,” as well as Read more
As noted at CNN, this week is the 40th Anniversary of the flight of Apollo 8–the first space flight to circle the moon. Interestingly, CNN notes that the trip was one on which an “inspirational and soothing” event occurred:
Apollo 8 also produced what to many was one of the most inspirational and soothing moments in history when Lovell and crewmates Frank Borman and William A. Anders took turns reading from the Book of Genesis. It was Christmas Eve and the whole world was watching. NASA said at the time it was expected to be the largest TV audience to date.
The astronauts signed off with these words: “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth.”
This same “inspirational” event was marked by a lawsuit in the US which influenced further “religious” acts in space, as previously discussed.
Jim Lovell was the third crewmember on Apollo 8; he is perhaps more famous for his role on Apollo 13, one of three astronauts that was supposed to land on the moon but never did.
In an ironically titled piece, the Wall Street Journal lists recent efforts of atheists or non-theists to “convert” others to their views. Stephanie Simon’s “Atheists Reach Out — Just Don’t Call It Proselytizing” addresses many of the recent mainstream attempts non-theists have made to make their perspective more well-known, and to win others to their cause.
As noted several months ago, while some groups have complained that religious groups “target” the military for conversion, military atheists have done much the same thing. Military atheists also recently called on President-elect Obama to install military policies to protect non-believers.