Last July, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF complained to the US military that Shields of Strength was combining US military trademarks with Bible verses on novelty dog tags. SoS did have authorization to use the military trademarks, but the Army told SoS to stop to prevent the “negative press.” A few weeks ago, the Marines did the same thing. First Liberty has come to their defense.
In an op-ed published at the Military Times earlier this week, First Liberty’s Mike Berry told the story:
Kenny Vaughan started Shields of Strength (“SoS”). SoS is a small, faith-based company from Texas that produces military-themed items inscribed with encouraging Bible verses. For more than two decades, Kenny has been making these inspirational replica dog tags for service members and first responders. To date, SoS has donated hundreds of thousands of its replica dog tags to military units…
Over the years, SoS replica dog tags became so popular and so nearly ubiquitous that, according to author and historian Stephen Mansfield, “aside from the official insignias they wear, [the SoS dog tag] is the emblem most often carried by members of the military in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Berry and First Liberty sent Read more
A crop duster was recently used in Louisiana to spray 100 gallons of “holy water” over the town of Cow Island.
The community-wide blessing was thought up by L’Eryn Detraz, a native of Cow Island and a missionary currently stationed in Ohio, the diocese said.
Parishioners of St. Anne Church brought water from home to be blessed by Fr. Matthew Barzare before it was loaded onto a plane and distributed by a cropduster pilot.
A nice thought, perhaps, but Read more
Sometimes lost in the “scandals” regarding religion in the US military is the fact that religion is still practiced frequently, and freely, by US troops around the world.
For example, in a variety of locations the US military supported Christmas celebrations, operations, and events. Notably, the camera often pointed away from some of the more direct Christmas iconography — but it was there.
Such discretion apparently wasn’t necessary for the worldwide celebration of Hanukkah, in which US troops were photographed celebrating the Jewish holiday from Japan to Afghanistan. Yes, even though Read more
The year 2020 looks to be a promising one, if the momentum of religious liberty in America can be maintained from 2019. The effect of the Trump Administration has been largely positive on religious liberty in the US military, though it has sometimes taken a bit of time for the “new” policy perspective — that is, the constitutional one — to trickle down to action officers.
Multiple websites noted that one of the highlights of church/state issues this year was the ruling on the Bladensburg Cross — a Supreme Court ruling that defended the right of the cross to continue to stand. While encouraging, particularly in that it wasn’t a “close” decision, it is notable that two Read more
Remember Shields of Strength?
In July, this site highlighted the complaint by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein that caused the US military to tell Shields of Strength to stop putting Bible verses on their military-themed faux dog tags.
As noted at the time, contrary to Weinstein’s claims, the military is free to license its trademarks to anyone it wants — so long as it doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs when it does so.
And that’s precisely what it did with the license to SoS.
First Liberty has now taken up the cause of Kenny Vaughan and Shields of Strength, sending a letter to the Army telling them what they already know: They’re guilty of viewpoint discrimination — restricting Shields of Strength only on the basis of the content of their beliefs. Said Mike Berry of First Liberty:
“The government grants licenses to people and entities all the time,” Berry said over the telephone. “What the government can’t do is discriminate when it grants those licenses. … It is basically saying ‘we’re happy to grant licenses to anyone, as long as it’s not religious.’ And that’s clearly what the Army is doing here.”
That’s precisely what the military is doing — and they’re clearly wrong to do so.
In July, Weinstein tried to Read more
Task & Purpose reports on a “leaked” US Naval Academy email that announced the advent of Satanic services to be held on the Academy grounds. (The story was subsequently picked up by the Military Times and FoxNews.) It turns out the email was “premature” and inaccurate:
a group of midshipmen “with beliefs aligned with those practiced by The Satanic Temple”…had requested a space for a “study group” to discuss their satanic beliefs — and not, as the email in question indicated, for holding satanic religious services.
The problem, of course, is The Satanic Temple isn’t a religious group. It’s an anti-religious group. From their own webpage [emphasis added]:
DO YOU WORSHIP SATAN?
No, nor do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural. The Satanic Temple believes Read more
Much of the national US leadership has spoken recently in support of religious freedom and the value of their Christian faith.
US Attorney General William Barr spoke a particularly salient truth when he addressed the Notre Dame Law School last Friday [emphasis added]:
Barr, a devout Catholic, told students and faculty at the university’s law school that “the problem is not that religion is being forced on others, the problem is that irreligion is being forced — secular values are being forced on people of faith.”…
“I can assure you that as long as I am attorney general, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of this effort, ready to fight for the most cherished of all American liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith,” he concluded.
Mike Pompeo was addressing the American Association of Christian Counselors when he spoke on Christian leadership: Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and his research assistant, Christine “Chris” Rodda have long claimed they fight for “religious freedom” in the military. The name of their charity, after all, is the Military “Religious Freedom” Foundation. They’ve also said in the past that they’re not opposed to Christians’ free exercise. Weinstein himself even once said he’d “give [his] last drop of blood” to support Christians’ rights to their beliefs.
Except, it seems they’re not telling the truth.
Weinstein has repeatedly Read more