Monday, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force that will attempt to proactively protect the religious liberty of American citizens. During the announcement, AG Sessions said [emphasis added]:
A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated..
We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs…
The Task Force will help the Department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuring that all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt, and how we conduct our operations.
It’s an outstanding thing to hear our government say — to Read more
Update: In response to this denial, Mikey Weinstein is now demanding the POW/MIA table be piled with books of various other spiritualities. This is standard Weinstein fare (he’s used it before) for trying to try to milk the “controversy” timeline and make the situation as annoying as possible in hopes he’ll be placated. Meanwhile, who, precisely, is being “honored” by this?
As reported at the San Diego Tribune, the US Navy has rebuffed Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s attempt to have a POW/MIA display “investigated” because it contained a Bible:
In a letter dated April 17 and mailed to New York attorney Donald G. Rehkopf Jr., San Diego-based Rear Adm. Paul D. Pearigen said that “neither further review nor an investigation of this matter is necessary.”
By now you’ve probably seen the reports saying Michael “Mikey” Weinstein filed a complaint (PDF, through his lawyer) about a Bible at a POW/MIA display at Okinawa, Japan. What these reports don’t seem to convey is this is just Mikey being Mikey. Every couple of months he makes these kinds of complaints; they hit a high point every now and then, fade into the background later, and maybe catch peoples’ attention again.
The POW/MIA display is a piggy bank for Weinstein. If his coffers get low, he can pull one of these from his files and try to get attention.
To prove the point, consider that the subject of this latest complaint at US Naval Hospital Okinawa is a POW/MIA table that is on permanent display. It’s been there for years. Nothing Read more
On 3 February 1943, the troop carrying USAT Dorchester was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Greenland. It went down with 670 of the 902 people onboard.
The story that keeps the Dorchester alive, however, is the now immortalized Four Chaplains:
As hundreds of panicking sailors scurried in fear for their lives, Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Father John P. Washington and the Revs. George L. Fox and Clark V. Poling gave up their life jackets and helped calm the soldiers.
Each year since 1993 the President has declared January 16th to be “Religious Freedom Day,” in order to remember the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. President Trump has not yet released his proclamation.
Update: From President Trump’s proclamation [emphasis added]:
Our Constitution and laws guarantee Americans the right not just to believe as they see fit, but to freely exercise their religion. Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification. These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy…No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law.
Jefferson’s statute continues to be a strong expression for the value of religious liberty even today. Though the statute has been discussed in many places and in great depth, there are two important points to take from the statute. First, Read more
Retired US Army LtCol Tom Gray, now a contractor at the global nuclear US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, recently issued a press release (PDF) celebrating his “vigilance” over the “separation of church and state.” Gray announced he’d had Dr. Philip Kayser of the Dominion Covenant Church in nearby Omaha disinvited from speaking at the Offutt Chapel. According to Gray, Kayser had planned on giving “a class on leadership from a Christian perspective.” Gray objected:
Dr. Kayser’s beliefs…can be found online. I brought my concerns to Captain Yi, the USSTRATCOM chaplain, and the invitation was revoked.
The STRATCOM decision to disinvited the local pastor is problematic — and disturbing.
First, it’s worth noting even Gray — despite Read more
Noting the US Department of Health and Human Services had designated September National Yoga Month, the Air Force published an article in which paid fitness instructors sang the praises if yoga for members of the US military:
Harold Cherry, [Joint Base San Antonio] yoga instructor [said] “They’ll [trainees] do a lot better job after that morning class,” Cherry, who retired after working 22 years in the Air Force and 18 years in civil service, said. “Everything about you will feel good. You’ll feel good about being around people, so the mission is going to come easier.”
Yoga remains the odd standout in the debates over church-state separation, as “liberals” tend to Read more