A few years ago, it seemed issues of religion in the military – scandals, some might say – dominated the news cycle for weeks out of the year. Every December the “top ten” religion media stories of the year included several regarding the US military. More recently, however, such “scandals” have fallen out of the news. To be sure, issues of religion in the military still pop up every now and then, but now those stories tend to involve actual issues of religion in the military, not manufactured outrage. Media stories are now far more likely to be about the changes that allow a Sikh to wear a turban or beard than about some random member of the military saying “have a blessed day” or having a Bible on their desk.
Part of the reason for this change has been the rise of religious liberty organizations who have defended the religious rights of US troops. The Becket Fund, First Liberty Institute, the ACLJ and others like them have become prominent and public defenders of religious freedom in the US military. While they were available to troops as a resource for many years, these organizations have gradually become more proactive, to the point that recent changes in US law and military policy have been proposed – and successfully passed – because of these groups. These laws and policies have dampened some of the prior years’ flail because they unified and standardized the military’s response to faith and free exercise. Rather than a cycle of military bases having repeats of the same kerfuffle, overarching policies govern the reaction of the entire DoD. (Sometimes.)
The end result is Read more
Did you know that last Thursday, 16 January 2020, was Religious Freedom Day in the United States?
The Day commemorates Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom — written before the US Constitution — which says, among other things:
All men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities…
The rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind…
President Trump’s proclamation repeated the quote above and began with: Read more
More than a month ago the Baptist Joint Committee, a left-leaning group that tends to object to religion in the public square, trumpeted a new movement of “Christians against Christian nationalism,” complete with a “petition” of sorts and a website. The site explains Christian nationalism as something that
demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian.
Those views are advocated in the mainstream by almost… no one. In their FAQ, they have the obvious question “Can you give some examples of christian nationalism?” to which they provide none — except to say
Christian nationalism in the hands of extremists can lead to acts of violence, such as the shootings at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego, California…
The inclusion of those incidents with the prior description is illogical (as well as contrary to public accounts of both incidents). In any case, any person would Read more
Regarding the speech discussed earlier today by Vice President Pence, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein eventually followed through and did not disappoint, calling Pence
one of the most repulsive and repellent fundamentalist Christian supremacists and bullies…
It’s almost funny to hear the vituperative, loud-mouthed, threat-filled Mikey Weinstein called Mike Pence — one of the most peaceable, humble men in politics today — a “bully.” Project much, Mikey?
President Trump re-tweeted Read more
Vice President of the United States Mike Pence spoke at the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis yesterday, and he had a message about a lawsuit against the Manchester VA for its display of a Bible on a POW/MIA table (previously discussed here):
You might’ve heard even today that there’s a lawsuit to remove a Bible that was carried in World War II from a Missing Man Table at a VA hospital in New Hampshire. There’s a lawsuit underway. It’s really no surprise because, under the last administration, VA hospitals were removing Bibles and even banning Christmas carols in an effort to be politically correct. But let me be clear: Under this administration, VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones.
We will always respect the freedom of religion of every veteran of every faith. And my message to the New Hampshire VA hospital is: The Bible stays.
A standing ovation followed.
Pence is Read more
A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion. Militantly secular regimes have carried out such projects in the past…
– Justice Samuel Alito
Yesterday the US Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision that the Bladensburg Peace Cross could continue to stand and be maintained by the state — even though it was “undoubtedly a Christian symbol.” (Of note, the case was reversed and remanded “for further proceedings,” not simply dismissed.)
Some reports focused on the multiple opinions published by the justices, though these reports largely seemed to come from critics who believed that emphasizing the “splintered” nature of the ruling would Read more
US Representative Walter Jones (R-NC) died last week, and he was buried in Farmville, NC. He was widely remembered for the length of his service, his kindness, and also his support of the US military.
It is this latter point that makes his name familiar here. Rep Jones was a staunch advocate for the military — including military religious freedom, which put him in the crosshairs of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein more than once.
In 2009, he introduced a bill to ensure US military chaplains could Read more
Tulsi Gabbard is a Democrat representing Hawaii’s 2nd District in the US House of Representatives. She is also a Major in the Army National Guard and a recently declared presidential candidate.
She is also a Hindu.
In response to criticisms regarding her religion and her political aspirations, Gabbard wrote a strongly worded rebuttal published at Religion News Service saying “religious bigotry is un-American” [emphasis added]:
While the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this historic first [a Hindu presidential candidate], and maybe even informed Americans about the world’s third largest religion, some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters…
Some media outlets have chosen to craft a false narrative of intrigue by profiling and targeting all of my donors who have names of Hindu origin and accusing them of being “Hindu nationalists.”
Today it’s the profiling and targeting of Hindu Americans and ascribing to them motives without any basis. Tomorrow will it be Muslim or Jewish Americans? Japanese, Hispanic or African Americans?
While Gabbard is right to protest Read more