Early in June, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s so-called “religious freedom” group ensured the sanctity of religious liberty in the US military by forcing the leaders of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to pull down a banner advertising Vacation Bible School at the chapel:
An advocacy group that says it fights “church/state violations and noxious abuse” in the military said Friday it forced the removal of a banner advertising a Vacation Bible School program from the main gate at the Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation…said the banner’s slogan, “Jesus [Power] Pulls Us Through,” was objectionable when displayed at the base entrance.
Here’s the thing: VBS has been extremely popular at military bases throughout Read more
Hill Air Force Base in Utah held its National Day of Prayer on May 6th with the theme of
Lord, pour out your love, life and liberty, from 2 Corinthians 3:17.
The group heard “interfaith prayers” from a Catholic priest, a Protestant chaplain, a Jewish Airman, a local Mormon, and…a heathen. SrA Mark Udy is a beard-wearing “priest” serving the “heathen, Asatru, and Norse pagan community” at Hill AFB.
Interestingly, Udy spent most of his allotted time explaining to the group who and what he was, which is probably understandable given that it’s unlikely there were many people in the audience from his “faith groups” or those who recognized them. He did, however, cite a few recognizable names: Odin and Thor.
In a pluralistic government institution, it’s bound to happen. In some ways, what Read more
[Update: The WHS has pulled the article down.]
In a raging letter to senior DoD officials yesterday, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein launched a withering attack on an Easter message written by US Navy Chaplain (LT) Aristotle Rivera, claiming his mainstream Christian message is “anti-Semitic.”
Chaplain Rivera — a West Point grad who spent six years in the Army before another six years in the Air Force and is now in the Navy — wrote an article for the Washington Headquarters Services of the DoD, which is essentially the part of the DoD that encompasses the DC area. The article asked, “What did the people talk about at the first Easter?” The short article describes events about two months after Jesus died: Read more
US troops celebrated the resurrection of the Jesus Christ around the world, including in the Middle East:
U.S. Army Soldiers deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield greet the Easter morning sunrise on a hilltop in Jordan less than 60 miles from where many Christians recognize as the resurrection site for Jesus of Nazareth, April 4, 2021. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Suzanne Ringle, Task Force Spartan Public Affairs)
A few years ago, Chris Rodda claimed Read more
Various outlets have reported the US Navy reversed the “controversial” decision (highlighted here yesterday) to cancel contracts for civilian Catholic chaplains, which was reportedly done either as a cost-savings or because it didn’t serve the proper demographic, depending on who you asked.
The religious services will continue for at least the next year, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander Navy Region Southwest, said in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.
“Contrary to previous discussions, this year we will continue contracted religious ministry programs and services similar to what we’ve had in place previously,” Bolivar said. “We will also continue to assess how best to meet the needs of our sailors and their families throughout the region.”
The decision to axe the civilian chaplain contracts was criticized by Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese that encompasses the military service.
The Navy’s actions had even caught the attention of their Commander-in-Chief, with President Trump tweeting about the reversal: Read more
Various news outlets covered the US Navy’s decision not to renew the contracts of civilian chaplains who were filling critical billets in the military chaplaincy:
The Navy has declined to renew contracts with Catholic priests in a supposed “cost-cutting” move, leaving bases without enough chaplains to keep services going…
The San Diego Tribune’s headline was somewhat misleading, as “other religious services continue” because most of the contract chaplains are Catholics, so the “other religious services” will continue to be served by active duty military chaplains.
Part of the Navy’s reasoning, according to Vice Admiral Yancey Lindsey, was that chaplain contracts were ended
at bases where those services are readily available in the surrounding community outside the base.
Such reasoning is dangerous toward Read more
Though it occurred somewhat under the radar these past two weeks, new US military policies clashed with religious freedom, resulting in outside groups coming to the aid of US troops and their liberties.
Late in June, the US Navy Fleet Forces Command, which administratively oversees Naval forces based within the continental United States, issued “additional Force Health Protection guidance” regarding COVID-19 mitigation procedures. In theory, Fleet Forces Command had already declared “HPCON C minus” in late March, and the late June message was a “reiteration” or reminder of that status. However, the latest release was notable (making the local news in many places) and very specifically clarified the somewhat vague HPCON C- with detailed mandatory procedures and prohibitions – including a specific statement on religious services – even those off military installations.
As printed in the Navy message (PDF):
5.A.7.B.4. (U) SERVICE MEMBERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM VISITING, PATRONIZING, OR ENGAGING IN THE FOLLOWING OFF-INSTALLATION SPECIFIC FACILITIES, SERVICES, OR ACTIVITIES…
5.A.7.B.4.F. (U) DINE-IN RESTAURANTS (TAKE-OUT AUTHORIZED), BARS, NIGHT CLUBS, CASINOS, CONFERENCES, SPORTING EVENTS, CONCERTS, PUBLIC CELEBRATIONS, PARADES, PUBLIC BEACHES, AMUSEMENT PARKS OR OTHER EVENTS DESIGNED TO PROMOTE LARGE GATHERINGS, TO INCLUDE INDOOR RELIGIOUS SERVICES.
While seemingly Read more
On Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) sent a letter (press release, PDF) to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper highlighting the US Army’s kowtowing to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s demands to restrict religious liberty in the Armed Forces. Some of the language may seem very similar to what was written on this site the same day [emphasis added]:
The [MRFF] has been waging a campaign against the chaplaincy, and frankly, against religious freedom in the military generally. In response, the Army has censored chaplains’ religious speech based on the flawed and arbitrary notion that military chaplains may not carry out their official duties outside of a religious ceremony that occurs within the four walls of a chapel.
As with other members of Congress in the recent past, Cruz reminded Read more