Tag Archives: chapel

Military Atheists Join, Contradict Fight Against Travis AFB Nativity

Update: As promised, Travis AFB let local media on the base to view the display (and take pictures).  As expected, each noted the nativity and Menorah were part of a group of nearly two-dozen holiday displays.  Weinstein has managed to keep his invective fairly calm up to this point, but the more he talks, the more ridiculous he gets.  Now the nativity and Menorah are “dehumanizing:”

“You are dehumanizing people. You are marginalizing people,” Weinstein said. “We know it’s a violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.”

His basis:

“If you want something with religious symbols, be it Islamic, Jewish, Christian or whatever, put it on the grounds of the (base) chapel. That’s what the regulations say and that’s what the law says and we’re a nation of laws,” Weinstein declared.

Naturally, the former JAG doesn’t say what regulations or laws “say” that.  That’s likely because, despite his authoritative-sounding assertion, none do.  He’s trying to create a “new” law in the military restricting faith to the chapel.

Not to be outdone, Army atheist Justin Griffith is going one step further than Weinstein:

[Military bases] not only have a right to ban Nativity scenes, they have an obligation to do so.

He forgot to mention the Menorah.  Like Weinstein, he also fails to say why the government is ‘obligated’ to ban religious (Christian) displays.

Weinstein has reportedly said he is considering a federal lawsuit over the issue, but he has threatened lawsuit over just about every controversy over the past few years without following through.


Justin Griffith, the “military director” of American Atheists, has belatedly joined the attack by Michael Weinstein against Travis Air Force Base’s holiday card lane, which contains a nativity and Menorah, among nearly two dozen other displays.  Writing in the third person, Griffith says

Staff Sergeant Dan Rawlings is an atheist stationed at Travis. Rawlings contacted American Atheists about putting up an Atheist-themed display as well. The display was intended to go up next to the Nativity Scene and the token Jewish Menorah. Justin Griffith, the Military Director at American Atheists offered to provide and pay for an equivalent display for Staff Sergeant Rawlings to submit.

Note, of course, the atheists’ intent to put up a response to the religious displays, rather than take independent action (as has been the ideological trend of atheists).  Note, too, they came up with the idea only after they read about the displays in the news (though the displays have been up for some time):

Rawlings was told by his USAF chaplain that he could not Read more

Weinstein Targets Travis AFB Nativity, Menorah

[Update: In a brilliant move, Travis AFB is inviting the local press to come see the “holiday” display today.  Officials also indicated the issue was being elevated, since, as noted below, Travis is far from the only military facility to have religious displays during Hanukkah and Christmas.]


Michael Weinstein, the single paid officer of his personally-founded charitable “foundation,” has threatened Travis Air Force Base with legal action.

Because they put up a nativity scene and a Menorah.

In case you hadn’t noticed, it is approaching Christmas and Hanukkah.  It is traditional during this time of year for military bases around the world to light Christmas trees, have visits from Santa (he arrives by plane), erect nativities and Menorahs, and sponsor what is often known as a “holiday card lane.”  This confluence of events is an acknowledgement of the celebrations in which a vast majority of military members — and American citizens — partake.

The issue of “holiday” trees has already been discussed.  Though the legal letter fails to mention it, the nativity and Menorah at issue are part of the Holiday Card Lane at Travis AFB.  Traditionally, Air Force bases allow units, individuals, and organizations to create “holiday cards,” often out of 4×8 sheets of plywood.  There may or may not be other criteria in place, like whether or not the cards can have lights or need to be fastened down to the ground. These cards are lined up along an avenue of the base.  Sometimes, they are judged in contests or inaugurated simultaneously with the tree-lighting (as were the ones at Travis).

The only thing Weinstein takes issue with, however, is the nativity and Menorah. Why?  The letter from Jones Day, written by attorney Katherine Ritchey, interestingly never mentions Weinstein by name.  It says  Read more

Article: USAFA “Dogged” by Michael Weinstein

An unusually pointed article from the Baptist Press summarizes some of the recent events at the US Air Force Academy — and minces few words on the cause of “anti-Christian pressure” at USAFA:

Recent actions by the U.S. Air Force Academy could appear as if commanders are on a mission to rid the institution of Christian influence, but a nearby pastor says the actions are the result of intense pressure from one man…

Mike Routt, pastor of Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., told Baptist Press the hostility toward Christianity at the Air Force Academy is not the result of the leadership there but is in response to pressure from Mikey Weinstein of Read more

Senate Defense Bill Adds Marriage, Removes Sodomy Rules

Update: The Pentagon has said bestiality would still be impermissible.  Aides in Congress are saying the repeal may not stand anyway.


US Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) successfully submitted an amendment to the 2012 Defense Authorization Act that would explicitly protect US military chaplains in regard to homosexual marriage:

The Wicker legislation would prevent military chaplains from being forced to perform a marriage ceremony if the chaplain objects for reasons of conscience…

“This amendment will allow the chaplains of our Armed Forces to maintain the freedom of conscience necessary to serve both their Nation and their religion without conflict,” Wicker said.

Nothing officially requires chaplains to perform Read more

Pagans Get “Warm Welcome” at Lackland AFB, USAFA

A “pagan newswire collective” article on the religious environment in the US Air Force painted a picture of a tolerant, accepting, and respectful military treatment of even the most minority religions.

Really.

The pagan report is only the most recent outside observer to highlight the positive religious environment in the US Air Force.  Starting at Lackland Air Force Base:

“Our airmen…should know that the Air Force has gone to great lengths to ensure their spirit was nurtured while in basic training,” says Rev. Tamie Rieth…, the Wicca Distinctive Faith Group Leader (DFGL) at Lackland for just over 6 years.  Rev. Rieth is one of 5 instructors who lead the weekly Wiccan services for BMT trainees.

The article says 150 to 300 trainees attend the Sunday Read more

Removal of Army Chapel Cross an “Attack on Christianity”

An unnamed US Soldier in Afghanistan took personal umbrage at the removal of a cross from the local chapel.

U.S. soldiers assigned to Camp Marmal in northern Afghanistan said the removal of a cross from an Army chapel has created a “huge controversy” and at least one soldier called it a “direct attack against Christianity and Judaism.”

How Judaism plays into it isn’t exactly clear, but if the facts are correctly laid out in the article, he may actually have a point:

The chapel is used for general Protestant services and a Baptist church service. There is a smaller chapel used for other services. The camp also has a mosque and a German chapel that is used for Catholic services.

In other words, every faith group has a place to ‘call their own.’  What do you think the chances are the mosques are identifiably Islamic?

Irrelevant, some will say:  The regulation says Read more

US Army Removes Cross from Afghan Chapel

FoxNews repeats the Politico report noting the US Army pulled a cross off the front of a US military chapel at Camp Marmal, Afghanistan, which was dedicated just a few months ago.

Before and after courtesy photo originally published at Politico.com.

At first, this situation seems similar to the US Army’s removal of crosses from the chapel in Kosovo a few years ago.

However, the current issue is actually somewhat more complex.

First, US military policies are not necessarily Read more

Messianic Soldier Celebrates Faith while Deployed

Senior Airman John Harris is a Messianic Jew who was deployed to the Middle East, but he still wanted to celebrate Sukkot.  With the help of the deployed chaplains, including a Rabbi at a completely different base, he was able to get the support he needed.

“I spoke with the Chapel staff here and they put me in contact with a rabbi at (Joint Base Balad),” said Harris…

“It has been an unexpected joy for me to be able to Read more

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