Following the revelation that Shaw Air Force Base had removed a Nativity scene immediately following Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s request, public outcry has left the Air Force “mulling” how to respond to the other side of the issue — those who view such a move as both unconstitutional and a questionably inappropriate relationship with Weinstein.
Though Weinstein was able to get action from the Air Force in “two hours and 15 minutes,” other normal Americans and a few reporters had trouble even getting a statement — which inspired Fox News columnist Todd Starnes to publish the (publicly available) phone numbers and emails of Shaw Public Affairs to see if others would have more success (they didn’t). This may be because most people did try to go through Public Affairs — while Weinstein had managed to get connected through the Base Command Post. (In what is unlikely a coincidence, Shaw AFB removed their Command Post phone number from their website yesterday.)
Shaw has subsequently clarified the situation, noting that a Shaw AFB chapel congregation put the Nativity up next to the Base Christmas tree, which Read more
The MRFF’s Paul Loebe wrote in a statement that since the display was not erected near a chapel, it was illegal.
“It was very sectarian in nature and a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution as well as a blatant violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.11,” he said.
Weinstein presumably called the office of LtGen Richard Harding, The JAG of the Air Force, and getting no relief there, called Shaw AFB via their Command Post.
Most civilians who call an Air Force base will probably be directed to Public Affairs, because it is the job of PA to help military commanders interact with the public and ensure the correct message is conveyed. Weinstein was transferred to the Commander’s office, where an “office assistant” reportedly spoke for the Air Force. The assistant told Weinstein the display was erected by “a volunteer group” and it was being taken down. Loebe was free to interpret this as the Air Force agreeing with the MRFF position: Read more
The Air Force has released a report following a six-month investigation, substantiating 16 [of the 38] allegations against eight [of 16] officers at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., who failed to prevent or investigate sexual harassment, condoned or refused to remove sexually offensive material and tolerated on-duty alcohol consumption.
The investigation seems to have targeted every Read more
The lengthy but thorough essay gives an excellent discussion on the issues of religious liberty, the law, the Constitution, and military policy.
There are growing numbers of persons and advocacy groups in the United States actively seeking to remove from public life — including in the armed services — virtually all symbols and expression of religion and America’s religious heritage by advocating strict separation of church and state. Many of these groups are already actively engaged in filing lawsuits against DOD and its leaders over various concerns about religious expression in the armed services… Read more
The Air Force Chaplaincy recently issued guidance (PDF) on how chaplains should handle a variety of situations regarding homosexuals and chaplains whose theologies do not allow them to support that lifestyle:
Wing Chaplains, talk with the chaplains under your supervision so that you are clear on what each chaplain’s endorser’s expectations are regarding ministry to same-gender couples. Honor those expectations and do not ask a chaplain to do anything contrary to his or her endorsement.
The Air Force appears to be the first service to explain how to handle marriage retreats where a homosexual couple may attend. Speaking to the Air Force “MarriageCare” retreats:
When you advertise a MC retreat, announce the chaplain who will be leading the event and the chaplain’s endorser. If the chaplain Read more
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty produced a video to explain some of the history of the memorial — history the FFRF calls a conspiracy. Meet Gene Thomas, a member of the Knights of Columbus, one of the men who has been caring for the memorial for 40 years.
The group argues the statue violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on Congress making any law regarding an establishment of religion.
The original court ruling had cited the historic value of the statue, and even made a point of saying the statue was more of a tourist attraction than religious monument. The FFRF apparently thinks that’s all part of a conspiracy: Read more
Dr. Albert Mohler has an excellent article that addresses a key point of contention among many who publicly discuss Christianity in America — whether or not America is, or was, a “Christian nation.” (These arguments rage despite the fact those on either side may fail to agree on what “Christian nation” even means.) One notable quote from Dr. Mohler:
Do American Christians really believe that Christianity benefits by being associated with all that America represents in the Muslim world? To many Muslims, America appears as the great fountain of pornography, debased entertainments, abortion, and sexual revolution. Does it help our witness to Christ that all this would be associated in the Muslim mind with “Christian” America?