Tag Archives: Congress

Beard Requests Haven’t Spiked, But Religious Freedom Rises

In a recent article the Air Force indicated that despite the recent publicity of Airmen and other military members being granted waivers to grow religious beards, there hasn’t been a marked increase in the requests:

The Air Force, citing privacy concerns, declined to identify how many airmen have obtained waivers based on religious exemptions but said the publicity surrounding approvals in recent years has not caused an increase in waiver requests.

The article also revealed that despite the publicity surrounding the “heathen” beard approval for SSgt Garrett Sopchak, he was actually the second Airman to get one for “norse heathenism”, after SSgt William Bailey in March.

The policy changes that have supported Read more

Supreme Court: Bladensburg Cross Will Stand

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

Col Linell Letendre to be Next USAFA Dean

The US Air Force Academy announced that Col Linell Letendre was the sole “finalist” to become the next Dean of Faculty at USAFA:

“This is wonderful news for our cadets, our faculty, and our Academy,” said Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria. “Linell’s leadership and commitment to world-class education and leader development will be invaluable to the USAFA team. She has a tremendous perspective that will integrate and elevate our institution and our Air Force leaders of tomorrow.”

The elevation of Col Letendre, a USAF JAG, to Permanent Professor and Department Head was highlighted here four years ago, largely because of her public record on issues of religious liberty within the Air Force. She was, for example, one of a few Air Force lawyers who advised the Air Force on Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s complaints against ChristianFighterPilot.com.  She has reportedly towed the Read more

Appeals Court: No Requirement for Atheist Invocation

The US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit ruled last week that the US House of Representatives was not required to permit an atheist to “pray”. Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation had sued Patrick Conroy, the former House Chaplain, for denying him the opportunity to “pray” at the opening of the legislative day.

Importantly, the court made a point of saying the House’s exercise was a religious exercise — and since Barker wasn’t offering a religious exercise, he had no claim: Read more

Army Major, Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard Discovers Religious Freedom

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

Air Force General Roger Brady: Mikey Weinstein “Extreme”

Retired US Air Force General Roger Brady made some waves in 2005 when he led an investigation of the US Air Force Academy’s religious climate. Much to some activists’ dismay, the report said there were some issues and perceptions, but there was not a systemic or institutional religious problem at USAFA. (Gen Brady also famously criticized Airmen who contacted their congressmen — an explicitly protected form of communication within the military.)

General Brady was interviewed recently by Christianity Today on faith and the military in a Veterans’ Day article that led off noting the recent “controversy” surrounding Air Force BGen John Teichert — as initiated by “former Air Force Captain and activist attorney Mikey Weinstein“.

The interview was highlighted by the Baptist Joint Committee — a liberal leaning group — as having “both some troubling and some heartening perspectives and insights.” That seems accurate, as Gen Brady says thing both sides of the religious liberty debate will support and oppose. In fact, in just two sentences he managed to hit both sides of the fence [emphasis added]: Read more

109 Members of Congress File SCOTUS Brief on Bladensburg Cross

More than 100 members of Congress filed an amicus brief supporting the Bladensburg cross, a “Peace Cross” that was erected after World War I to honor local war dead. The memorial was initially found to be permissible, but the Fourth Circuit court of appeals overturned that ruling, declaring it a violation of the US Constitution. The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court — which, to date, has not explicitly ruled on the long-running war on war memorials with religious iconography: Read more

Transgender Controversy Gnaws at Military Morale, Readiness

While the issue of transgenders in the US military has been at a low simmer for more than a year, it continues to be a source of consternation and angst within the military itself, just as any unresolved policy matter would be. While it seems transgenders would ultimately contribute little in the form of military readiness (some public reports indicate actual transgenders in the military number in the high-two digits), the manner in which to address this demographic continues to substantially draw on senior leader time and every troops’ moral conscience.

In an apparent effort to establish their argument as one beyond Donald Trump, the LGBT community Read more

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