SSgt Abdul Rahman Gaitan has become the first US Air Force Airman to obtain a religious exemption to grow a beard in uniform:
The biggest challenge yet, was getting approval for his shaving waiver from Air Force Headquarters. This required endorsement by the unit commander, base chaplain, installation commander up to the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel Division. This process took Gaitan almost four years to accomplish.
Interestingly, the article explains Gaitan was actually Catholic, but he apparently became disenchanted with the lack of authenticity in the liturgical faith — and he was drawn to the seeming sincerity of Islam he saw in locals while stationed in Turkey.
With the beard openly displaying his religion, Gaitan says Read more
Gina Harkins at Military.com says the Air Force is “looking into” a complaint about the content of a Catholic chaplain’s sermon last month [emphasis added]:
Capt. Antonio Rigonan, an Air Force chaplain at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, said during an Aug. 19 service that many priests who’ve abused children were “homosexuals” and “effeminate,” according to a military officer’s spouse who attended that morning.
In context, “looking into” appears to mean nothing more than “find out about,” since the Air Force had no idea there was a complaint until the press asked: Read more
Howard Friedman’s Religion Clause reported on the summary judgment granted in In re Navy Chaplaincy, a very long-running lawsuit alleging the US Navy chaplaincy was essentially rigged for liturgical/Catholic chaplains. The DC federal district court ruled against the chaplains.
However, given how many years the lawsuit has been running its course, it is worth noting who is leading the US Navy chaplaincy now:
In fact, the rest of the US military chaplaincy leadership reads much the same. With one possible exception, the list reads like a who’s who of conservative and Read more
In an unusual step, the Army officer appointed to investigate a complaint against Chaplain (Major) Scott Squires and his assistant SSgt Kacie Griffin wrote a second, revised report released just last week (the original was reportedly issued months ago). The pair were accused of discriminating against a homosexual couple regarding a Strong Bonds marriage retreat to be led by Chaplain Squires.
It appears the new “do over” report was the result of First Liberty’s rebuttal in April, in which attorney and former US Marine JAG Mike Berry tore into the investigator’s reasoning and conclusions. It seems the new report was intended to defend against First Liberty’s legitimate concerns, including, for example, this admission from the investigator quietly placed in the new report [emphasis added]:
In my prior findings and recommendations memorandum, I stated that when CH Squires informed [redacted] of his restriction that this was a violation of EO policy. This was a misstatement of fact and law. It is not a violation of EO policy to state a fact and CH Squires is protected in doing so…
It wasn’t just a “misstatement” — it was a wholly Read more
US Army SSgt Kacie Griffin has reportedly lost her opportunity to go to college and become an officer due to a recent controversy over homosexuals and a Strong Bonds marriage retreat.
SSgt Griffin was the chaplain assistant to Chaplain (Maj) Scott Squires at Fort Bragg, which was planning the Strong Bonds event earlier this year. A homosexual couple apparently expressed interest in the event; Chaplain Squires was unable to lead a marriage event with homosexuals attending, so he rescheduled the retreat — so the homosexuals filed a complaint. The investigating officer recommended Chaplain Squires be reprimanded.
For her part, SSgt Griffin was handling the administrative part of the retreat:
“Griffin informed Chaplain Squires of the application and informed the applicant that Chaplain Squires would speak with her. For this purely administrative act, an Army investigator determined she ‘gave the impression she was not eligible for the event’ and should be reprimanded for failing to ‘timely answer’ her question,” First Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry said.
Though the “investigation” was reportedly finished months ago — and despite Read more
Gen Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently attended an iftar meal ending Ramadan fasting in Baltimore. Generally speaking, such events should be non-events, though senior military leaders publicly attending religious events occasionally brings criticism (normally when they’re Christian events).
One notable statement from Gen Neller [emphasis added]:
Neller shared some stories about his travels as a Marine to places where he was the minority as a white, Catholic American. He spoke about using what he knows about Islam to find common ground with Iraqi leaders during a year spent in Anbar province.
“We’re all sons of Abraham – why are you fighting me?” Neller recalled telling them.
It’s a fascinating statement on several levels. It’s a valid Read more
Update: In an interesting take, Patrick Hornbeck, a department chair of theology at Fordham University and an open homosexual, admitted that Chaplain Squires was “mistreated,” but attributed it to the natural consequences of “bureacracy” and a “well-meaning if somewhat confused investigator.”
The world waited with bated breath for Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — self-declared savior of military religious freedom — to speak on the case of Chaplain (Maj) Scott Squires. Chaplain Squires had been investigated and recommended for reprimand after he re-scheduled a Strong Bonds event just so a homosexual could attend, hosted by a different chaplain whose endorsing agency apparently is not morally opposed to homosexual “marriage.” Given the affront to his faith, and his efforts to accommodate the homosexual couple in an a different affirming event, naturally a defender of religious freedom would rally to Chaplain Squires’ side.
Noting that Chaplain Squires was following his endorsing agency’s guidance, as both the agency and the US Army requires, this was Weinstein’s response:
Our argument is [Defense Secretary Jim Mattis] ought to disqualify that particular entity as a chaplain endorsing agency.
Weinstein Read more
In what seems to be second case of Equal Opportunity offices gone wild, another US military EO office has determined that a Christian military officer is guilty of discrimination — and should be reprimanded — because of his religious beliefs about sexuality.
US Army Chaplain Scott Squires was apparently tasked to host a Strong Bonds marriage retreat — and a homosexual couple signed up. Chaplain Squires is a Southern Baptist, and his ecclesiastical endorser has said Southern Baptist chaplains can’t perform ministry that might appear to condone sexual sin. (This would be equally true for any Catholic or Muslim chaplain.) Thus, Chaplain Squires rescheduled the Strong Bonds event to a weekend in which another chaplain — one whose faith group would support a homosexual “marriage” — could host the event.
That wasn’t good enough. The Soldier complained to EO — and the EO office said the chaplain should be reprimanded [emphasis added]: Read more