When President Trump signed his executive order on religious liberty at the beginning of the month, most of the criticism (as the President seems to attract much of it) was focused on the IRS and enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.
A few sites, however, took issue with his reference to religious liberty in the US military. During his Rose Garden announcement on the National Day of Prayer, President Trump said (video):
Just one example, people were forbidden from giving or receiving religious items at a military hospital where our brave service members were being treated and where they wanted those religious items.
Though he made no direct statement, that clearly seems to be a reference to the December 2011 controversy in which Walter Reed updated its visitor policy to say Read more
In an act that almost amounted to a display of principle, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF finally spoke out against US Air Force MSgts Laura and Mark Magee — both Muslim service members. The Magees were the focus of a “Through Airmen’s Eyes” article put out by the Air Force early last week which highlighted their faith. The article was entitled “Nevada ANG chaplain [sic]: ‘I want people to know Islam is not evil’“. (The title should have said “…chaplain’s assistant,” not “chaplain”.)
Weinstein’s group put out a statement saying [emphasis added]:
MRFF objects to it just as strongly as it has to the many articles published by the Air Force highlighting the faith of Christian airmen [sic]…
The MRFF complaint gives only a single example that it says violates Air Force regulations, citing the article which quoted MSgt Mark Magee saying: Read more
Guy Gruters recently spoke at a gathering at the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center at Pensacola, Florida. The first words of the official Navy article on the event are fascinating:
Guy Gruters is a religious man. You would be, too, if you’d been in his shoes.
Then-Lt Gruters was an Air Force F-100 pilot in Vietnam who, after his second shootdown, was captured and spent nearly six years as a POW. One of his cellmates was Lance Sijan, and Read more
Some have recently said that a person’s views of or support and advocacy for homosexuality should not be relevant to the government office they are appointed to fill.
However, some of those same groups are now opposing an appointee to government office — purely because of his views on sexuality [emphasis added]:
The American Military Partner Association…accused Mr. Green of making “a shameful political career out of targeting LGBT people for discrimination…Based on his vicious, anti-LGBT record, Mark Green cannot be trusted to ensure all those who serve have the support they need and deserve.”
Mark Green is a Tennessee state senator, identifies as a conservative Christian, and he is now President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army. If he has made a “career” out of targeting Read more
When the newest Justice of the Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch took his oath today, he promised to be a “faithful servant to the Constitution.” That wasn’t his only biblical reference:
I will never forget to whom much is given to much will be expected, and I promise you that I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation.
That’s a reference to Luke 12:48, for those who assumed it was from Benjamin Franklin or just a historical quote.
Many have faith that Justice Gorsuch — who also spoke directly to military religious freedom during his confirmation, in a little-noted exchange — will be an advocate for religious liberty in the face of what one of his fellow justices has called hostility toward traditional moral beliefs.
Dr. James Dobson praised the seating of Justice Gorsuch — and intimated that President Trump may soon have another vacancy to fill: Read more
Update: Now covered at the Stars and Stripes.
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is calling on the new Acting Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Robert Speer, to reverse a last minute policy by outgoing Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning directing the Army to conduct “training on implicit or unconscious bias”:
“The military exists to protect our nation, not to be used as a laboratory for social engineering — and especially not from an outgoing official’s 11th hour order,” said Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, USA (Retired)…“This directive does nothing to increase military readiness but wastes valuable training time just to promote a political agenda.”
The letter (PDF) notes that “implicit or unconscious bias” isn’t Read more
Not long after receiving a letter (PDF) from the First Liberty Institute, the New Hampshire Air National Guard at the Pease ANG Base has said they have chosen to ignore the previously reported complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
“We don’t plan on responding to the FFRF,” [Greg Heilshorn, spokesman for the New Hampshire National Guard] said. “We haven’t had any formal complaints from our airmen internally regarding any concerns with prayers being said at various ceremonies. We will continue as we’ve done before. It’s our tradition. We believe our chaplains…[are a] vital part of our organization.”
Well done. The US military is not obligated to respond to the FFRF — or any other third party complaint — at all. By declining to do so, they avoid the perception they are legitimizing the FFRF or its generalized accusations about religious expression in the US military. Meanwhile, if there are any actual complainants who have an actionable grievance, they still have access to every grievance system within the military.
Part of the issue with Read more
On military moves to a state that would allow a boy to use a girl’s locker room:
[Military families with children] are being asked to choose between our country and keeping our kids safe. Being military, we don’t have a say which state we move to next. We don’t know if it will be a state that protects our civil rights or one that won’t.
On policies that would create a “right” to choose which bathroom, shower, or other traditionally private facilities they want to use: Read more