The ACLJ has recently begun to more firmly establish itself as one of the most articulate and assertive defenders of military religious freedom, specifically as it pertains to the attacks on religious liberty by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein.
Two weeks ago, Skip Ash (who has already written some lengthy and well-cited rebuttals to Weinstein and his acolyte John Compere) wrote an article detailing how the ACLJ had stood in opposition to Weinstein’s attacks on Bibles in POW/MIA displays. Noting Weinstein’s MRFF had sent yet another letter demanding an investigation (after their first demand was denied), Ash notes the ACLJ also wrote another letter to the DoD, saying
Our purpose, as always, is to educate DOD IG personnel on what the Constitution actually requires and permits vis-à-vis such displays and to refute the broad (though, admittedly, consistent) Constitutional misinterpretations of the MRFF and its supporters. The MRFF and its supporters grossly misunderstand what the Establishment Clause requires, and they too frequently interpret freedom of religion to actually mean freedom from religion.
As has been noted in the past, such Read more
Update: “Shame” from the Washington Times. Also at the Baptist Joint Committee., with more vitriol from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
I lived on what I referred to as faith. There were four. One was faith in myself. Two was faith in those around me. Three was faith in my country. And four was faith in my God.
– US Air Force Capt (Ret) William Robinson, the longest-held enlisted Prisoner of War in American history
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein is again gloating about his success in persuading a military base to remove a Bible from a POW/MIA remembrance table.
But it isn’t the giant scandal it may seem.
For Weinstein, POW displays are the gift that keeps on giving. There are 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
The recent incident involving a POW/MIA memorial table — in which Michael “Mikey” Weinstein claimed a Bible was an illegal promotion of Christianity — serves as a potent reminder of the danger of trying to appease Weinstein.
Consider Weinstein’s response to the Navy’s decision to rebuff his demand [emphasis added]:
MRFF has long enjoyed considerable success in the very recent past in getting Christian bibles removed from military and civilian agency POW/MIA display tables…
He’s right. Weinstein has “enjoyed” coercing agencies into removing Bibles — because they’ve surrendered to him. But they didn’t surrender because they had to. There was no legal, Read more
Update: In response to this denial, Mikey Weinstein is now demanding the POW/MIA table be piled with books of various other spiritualities. This is standard Weinstein fare (he’s used it before) for trying to try to milk the “controversy” timeline and make the situation as annoying as possible in hopes he’ll be placated. Meanwhile, who, precisely, is being “honored” by this?
As reported at the San Diego Tribune, the US Navy has rebuffed Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s attempt to have a POW/MIA display “investigated” because it contained a Bible:
In a letter dated April 17 and mailed to New York attorney Donald G. Rehkopf Jr., San Diego-based Rear Adm. Paul D. Pearigen said that “neither further review nor an investigation of this matter is necessary.”
Initially, it appeared the Navy had asked “how high?” when Weinstein Read more
By now you’ve probably seen the reports saying Michael “Mikey” Weinstein filed a complaint (PDF, through his lawyer) about a Bible at a POW/MIA display at Okinawa, Japan. What these reports don’t seem to convey is this is just Mikey being Mikey. Every couple of months he makes these kinds of complaints; they hit a high point every now and then, fade into the background later, and maybe catch peoples’ attention again.
The POW/MIA display is a piggy bank for Weinstein. If his coffers get low, he can pull one of these from his files and try to get attention.
To prove the point, consider that the subject of this latest complaint at US Naval Hospital Okinawa is a POW/MIA table that is on permanent display. It’s been there for years. Nothing Read more
Chaplain (MajGen) Dondi Costin, US Air Force Chief of Chaplains, spoke at a spiritual resiliency luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, in March — and he highlighted the practical value of the Sermon on the Mount:
To bring awareness on the importance of spiritual wellness, Maj. Gen. Dondi Costin, the Chief of Chaplains Headquarters U.S. Air Force…spoke of how the Sermon on the Mount, generally considered as the foundation for ethical conduct, relates to every day life.
“The thing about this entire speech, which Read more
US Air Force Capt Hunter Barnhill is an instructor pilot with the 37th FTS in Columbus, Mississippi. Last year, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor:
[Barnhill] went to the flight doctor who sent him to Baptist Memorial Hospital for a MRI where the doctors found a brain tumor…
The intense nature of the surgery caused him to suffer from post-operative Supplementary Motor Area Syndrome.
SMA hit hard, rendering him unable to speak and paralyzed his right side. He participated in physical and speech therapy for three months and worked to gain his abilities to sit up, walk, run and speak as he had done only weeks ago.
While shocking and traumatic, the notable theme throughout the official Air Force article is the role of Barnhill’s faith, and the impact it had on both him and those around him: Read more