During the unique trials of the pandemic, US military chaplains are coming under fire for trying to provide support for their troops.
A few years ago, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein regularly made a ruckus over something frequently called “Chaplain’s Corner”. The pieces were generally short articles written by military chaplains and published in a military base’s local paper. Weinstein and his research assistant, Chris Rodda, were apparently unable to prove military Christians were actually doing anything wrong, so they took to finding articles with Christians saying something they didn’t like. Just about every week, it seemed, the MRFF would hit the press with another “the world is ending” claim about a Christian chaplain trying to subvert democracy by publishing an article in a small-circulation base paper. (Notably, they ignored those by other faiths.)
There were plenty of targets, of course, because these columns existed at pretty much every military base. (Routine public productions like that are good fodder for performance reviews.) In other words, Weinstein was able to keep himself in the press just by making a new complaint about old news every week. In many, if not most, cases, military bases responded by pulling the columns to mitigate the supposed offense. With the “victories” and coverage, Weinstein had found a new cash cow.
That is, until religious liberty advocates stepped in to defend the rights of US troops against the attacks by Weinstein and Rodda.
One of the most significant Read more
For the past few years, critics of Christians in America have been searching for a label that would catch on and advance their message of opposing Christian values and those who hold them.
For some time they’d tried “Christian extremist,” borrowing from Islamic extremists, but it faltered largely because few people see Christians strapping on suicide vests and blowing up shopping malls. Besides, what’s a Christian extremist going to do? Tell you Jesus really, really loves you?
More recently, activists have tried to label Christians as “supremacists,” presumably borrowing from the more commonly heard term “white supremacists”. Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has been using the term for quite some time to malign Christians in the military, and Tom Carpenter of the homosexual activist Forum on the Military Chaplaincy recently used it to criticize Ron Crews and the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
But what does it actually mean?
If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it has been that words have meaning — at least, they’re supposed to, until such time as the culture starts to skew what the words were meant to say (see: discrimination).
So what is a “supremacist”?
Well, it depends.
According to 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
Court-martialed Marine LCpl Monifa Sterling has appealed to the US Supreme Court, alleging her religious liberty was violated when she was convicted for not removing Bible verses posted to her desk.
The Supreme Court has not yet agreed to hear the case — and there are already significant briefs being filed in her support.
Critics like Michael “Mikey” Weinstein have tried to frame her case as a Christian trying to inappropriately “expose” others to their beliefs — and thus deserving of court-martial.
However, people who actually support religious freedom — rather than advocate discrimination against Christians as Weinstein does — are coming out in support of Sterling.
This includes a substantial number of significant and high profile non-Christians. Those supporting Sterling’s case with amicus briefs include: Read more
In her writing, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s research assistant Chris Rodda has often struggled with both the truth and the ability to convey a clear, coherent, and supported argument — all while under pressure from her sort-of boss to make it sensational enough that people will read it.
Late in December, she tried to overcome those shortcomings in a piece at the Huffington Post.
Her 2,500-word article — short, by Rodda standards — really needs go no further than the headline:
Gay-Bashing Chaplain Endorsers Admit That The Military Chaplaincy Is Disproportionately Anti-LGBT
It would have been more honestly titled Read more
Retired US Air Force Chaplain Norris Burkes first came to the attention of this site in 2009, when the syndicated chaplain wrote a column about the burning of Afghan-language Bibles by American troops in Afghanistan (a controversy discussed here). In essence, Burkes approved, and noted:
The possession of such religious material violates something the military calls General Order No. 1.
Though he was dismissive of most input, he did finally concede that he was wrong — General Order Number One says no such thing.
Despite the admission, Burkes declined to change the article, and it can still be found on his website, with the unchanged statement that even Burkes admitted was wrong.
Chaplain Burkes recently popped up again, and for some reason he Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently demanded the court-martial of US troops who attended an awards event hosted by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, a coalition of chaplain endorsers. The reason Weinstein demanded their court-martial was his bigotry toward the Christian beliefs espoused by the chaplain groups represented. Weinstein essentially admitted as much when he hatefully caricatured and lambasted those Christian beliefs in his attack.
But since “Mikey Doesn’t Like Christians” isn’t actionable by the military, he tried to use an old technique that unintentionally won him a battle many years ago: He claimed the service members violated regulations by “endorsing” the chaplains by virtue of their presence at the event in uniform.
The Air Force rebuffed that claim, and there is no evidence any Read more