Tag Archives: becket fund

Update: Responses to DoD Changes on Religion Rules

Update: J.B. Wells wonders aloud if the DoD intentionally produced the policy to change the religious freedom focus to turbans and beards while keeping “liberal constituencies” like Michael Weinstein “at bay.”


There have been a wide variety of responses to the US military’s update to DODI 1300.17 (accommodating religious freedom), with language that seems to imply a more open attitude toward outward display and expression of religious belief.

The Christian Post, like many sites, focused on the apparent ability to wear religious accoutrements:

The Pentagon reportedly decided to change its policy on religious wear after Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a Sikh, spoke at a Congressional briefing about the challenges American Sikhs face in the military earlier in January. Kalsi told members of Congress that he believes he can effectively serve his country while still maintaining his religious appearance, including an uncut beard and a turban.

While that may or may not have been a factor, the DoDI clearly includes language from both the 2013 and 2014 National Defense Authorization Acts — that is, requirements levied by Congress, not just reconsideration based on serving Soldiers.

The US Navy appeared to try to quell Read more

US Constitution Compels Military Chaplaincy

Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty wrote an interesting article at the beginning of the month entitled “Why the Constitution Demands Government-Paid Priests, Imams, Pastors, and Rabbis.” He concisely addresses both the need not only for the chaplaincy itself, but also very specific religious faith leaders within that chaplaincy:

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have unique religious needs because the government can snatch them away from their religious communities at a moment’s notice and for indefinite periods…Indeed, “[u]nless the [military] provided a chaplaincy, it would deprive the [service member] of his right under the Establishment Clause not to have religion inhibited and of his right under the Free Exercise Clause to practice his freely chosen religion.” Katcoff v. Marsh

Blomberg explains why chaplains of specific faiths are necessary, Read more

The Story of Big Mountain Jesus

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sued over a war memorial — a statue of Jesus on a ski slope in Montana — which they claim violates the US Constitution.  The FFRF lost and has appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty produced a video to explain some of the history of the memorial — history the FFRF calls a conspiracy. Meet Gene Thomas, a member of the Knights of Columbus, one of the men who has been caring for the memorial for 40 years.

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Atheists Appeal Victory of Big Mountain Jesus

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed an appeal after a court recently ruled that the Jesus statue on Big Mountain ski resort could remain standing.  The statue is on public land, and

The group argues the statue violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on Congress making any law regarding an establishment of religion.

The original court ruling had cited the historic value of the statue, and even made a point of saying the statue was more of a tourist attraction than religious monument.  The FFRF apparently thinks that’s all part of a conspiracy:  Read more

Atheists Demand Jesus Come Down from Montana Mountain

The aptly named Freedom From Religion Foundation has demanded that the “Big Mountain Jesus” be torn down, because it resides on (leased) US government land.  Interestingly, it has a military connection: It was raised by the local Knights of Columbus in honor of the 10th Mountain Division:

They call him Big Mountain Jesus: a six-foot statue of Christ, draped in a baby blue robe and gazing out over the majestic Flathead Valley from his perch along a ski run at the Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana.

He has been there for more than 50 years, erected by the local Knights of Columbus chapter in honor of the soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division who told of seeing similar shrines in the mountains of Italy during World War II.

The Knights of Columbus have asked, naturally, to intervene in the case between the FFRF and the Forest Service.  Even the local resort manager saw the historical value of the statue beyond religion:  Read more

Supreme Court Reverses Injunction Against Mojave Cross

The decision in Salazar v Buono directly relates to faith in the military profession, as its very basic premise has far reaching implications:

Is a cross on government land an unConstitutional endorsement of the Christian faith?

A variety of organizations reported on the Supreme Court ruling Wednesday essentially allowing the World War I memorial Mojave cross to remain standing.  The ruling reversed the appeals court decision initially declaring the cross on federal land unConstitutional, and then declaring the US Congress transfer of land to the VFW invalid due to its attempt to “avoid” the injunction.

The Supreme Court issued six separate opinions, with no single majority opinion.  The decision itself (pdf) is largely procedural, though the net effect Read more

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