The US military has just updated its regulations with the intent of improving the protection of military religious freedom.
Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1300.17 was previously known as “Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services,” but is now re-titled simply “Religious Liberty in the Military Services” (PDF). The new DoDI title sets the tone for a policy that presupposes religious liberty, rather than treats it as an outlier that may sometimes be “accommodated.”
That change in tone mimics the tone change in religious liberty policies in the Air Force – which may not be a coincidence. The new DoDI was approved by Undersecretary of Defense Matthew Donovan – a former Air Force fighter pilot who has been both an Undersecretary of the Air Force and even the Acting Secretary of the Air Force in the past few years, during which the tenor (if not always the actions) of Air Force policy leaned toward religious freedom.
It seems President Trump’s selection of Undersecretary Donovan may have set the stage for improving religious liberty in the US military.
As to the DoDI itself, it notably Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s “charity,” the MRFF, recently published a bit of fan-mail from a person excoriating President Trump’s Tuesday proclamation of Religious Freedom Day.
And even Weinstein’s own research assistant, Chris Rodda, probably grimaced.
The letter, written by a “30-year Active Duty Air Force Officer”, lambasts Trump’s proclamation, claiming it is a “dog whistle of Fundamentalist Christian Dominionism.” As proof [formatting original]:
To understand his real declaratory intent, we need only look at his last paragraph in which he says, “I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen…”
…[Trump] ENLARGES the views of those that see 2018 as ‘The Year of Our Lord,’ i.e., Christians only.
Longevity in the military is clearly no guarantor of intellectual acuity.
As anyone with an elementary education and an internet connection could tell you, the Read more
In a recent interview with an obscure website, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein spontaneously began a religious assessment of Air Force leadership. He first noted that Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen David Goldfein is “ethnically Jewish.” It appears that being Jewish let Gen Goldfein off the hook, though, because Weinstein then laid into The JAG of the Air Force, LtGen Chris Burne, and his (alleged) religion:
But the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force is a three-star General named Christopher Burne who is either an Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian himself or a sympathizer. He’s the worst…TJAG that we’ve ever had, and he has a tremendous amount of sway over what happens there.
Weinstein had plenty of time to say something about the merits (or lack thereof) of these men, but chose instead to make their religion his qualification — and the target of his derision.
And Mikey Weinstein has the gall to accuse other people of being bigots.
To his credit, Read more
Update: Congressman Lamborn’s potential political rivals reacted, with Republican Bentley Rayburn, a retired Major General and 1975 USAFA graduate, saying Lamborn hasn’t done enough to support religious freedom at USAFA, while Democrat Irv Halter, also a retired Major General and 1977 USAFA graduate, says Lamborn has gone too far.
A few weeks ago congressmen asked the Secretary of the Air Force to document and explain the Air Force religious policy and its application at the US Air Force Academy, following USAFA’s command decision to pull down a Bible verse on a cadet’s whiteboard. As noted then and in a subsequent congressional hearing, the Air Force has relied heavily on AFI 1-1, a Chief of Staff level AFI published in the final days of General Norton Schwartz’s tenure in 2012.
Now, Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado (home to the US Air Force Academy) has written a letter signed by 22 other congressmen asking Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James to revise the policy at issue:
The August 2012 Air Force regulations which govern religious freedom and expression (AFI 1-1) are inconsistent with Congressional intent and current law…
The first issue Lamborn cites is the “undefinable” standard the Air Force uses [emphasis added]: Read more
President Obama has nominated BGen Chris Burne to be the next The JAG of the Air Force (TJAG):
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced today that the president has made the following nominations:
Air Force Brig. Gen. Christopher F. Burne has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and for assignment as the judge advocate general, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Burne is currently serving as the staff judge advocate, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
Like the retiring LtGen Richard Harding, whom he will replace, BrigGen Burne will skip his second star and go directly to his third.
General Harding is one of the last senior officers from the tenure of former Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz — and one of the last to have a long running, if tenuous, relationship with military religious freedom critic Michael “Mikey” Weinstein. (General Read more