The Air Force Times has editorialized that
Before the Air Force can move past its reputation for religious intolerance, it must do one more thing: Eliminate prayers from official events.
Beginning an editorial with such a statement certainly reveals the tone. After all, while the Air Force has been accused of intolerance by vocal critics, no institutional intolerance has ever been substantiated, and there is no public indication that intolerance is a valid “reputation” of the Air Force.
The editorial also treats a fairly complex issue rather whimsically. The simple and unexplained demand that the Air Force “eliminate prayers from official events,” after all, would have prevented a Chaplain from praying at the nationally-televised memorial service at Fort Hood attended by the President. Read more
The Fort Hood report (pdf), authored at the request of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, is being widely circulated and read by a variety of pundits. As previously noted, many have already taken note that it calls for action against the officers who appear to have not followed standards when Hasan’s evaluations did not match his reported performance. Two other findings are also important to the relationship between religion and the military: a review of the policy on Chaplain endorsers, and a recommendation that the military define a “baseline” for religious conduct.
First, with regard to the officers who supervised US Army Maj Hasan: Read more
Updated with President Obama’s proclamation.
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 (see 2009). President Obama does not appear to have issued his proclamation for tomorrow yet (now available), though the day has been a topic of discussion in varying forums across the internet.
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: Read more
The “interim CEO” of the Stand Up America Project had much to say about the ability of a religious adherent to be a loyal citizen or member of the military:
There is no doubt that a devout [Christian] must proclaim the exclusivity of [Christ] or he is an apostate. Therefore, he must always be a [Christian] first, and that means he is not only unable, but also forbidden from acting in any other fashion. If he is in our military, he may take orders, and obey, but at some level, when the order runs afoul of [Christianity], he must revert to [Christianity] first.
Except, he didn’t exactly say that. Scott Winchell railed against Muslims in the long piece, ultimately saying Read more
In September, Michael and Bonnie Weinstein filed a civil lawsuit against the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches and Gordon Klingenschmitt. The primary issue seems to be Klingenschmitt’s “imprecatory prayer” against Weinstein and Barry Lynn, as was noted in a previous analysis. (Weinstein has amended his lawsuit twice in the intervening months, but only the original is currently publicly available.) This case will be interesting for religious freedom in general, not just in the military, since it may delineate what control–if any–the government is willing to place on public prayer. Initial commentators, including allies of the Weinsteins, doubted they would succeed in their suit. However, despite the initial furor, there has been little in the media since.
The case continues, however. It appears one of the initial issues will be jurisdiction, which is a legitimate question in this case. Weinstein is a resident of New Mexico, the CFGC is headquartered in Texas, and Klingenschmitt is presumed to be a resident of Colorado. Weinstein is suing in Texas district court. Since the CFGC is in Dallas, it would appear to make sense that Weinstein would sue the CFGC in Texas.
However, the CFGC’s connection to the complaint is tenuous. As noted already, the precipitating action in this litigation appears to be a prayer by Klingenschmitt, not anything done or said by the CFGC or its head, Jim Ammerman. The CFGC’s role in the prayer is nonexistent, except insomuch as Klingenschmitt is a Read more
Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and co-author of Is Christianity Good for the World with Pastor Douglas Wilson, takes on religion in the US military in his latest article in Vanity Fair, for which is he a contributing writer.
The lead-in to the article demonstrates a set of false assumptions which are never substantiated within the article:
It’s no secret that conservative Christians dominate the US military, but when higher-ups start talking about conversion missions, it’s time to worry.
Hitchens never provides evidence that any ideological belief, never mind conservative Christianity, “dominates” the US military. He also misrepresents Read more
The recent Military Religion Question of the Day involved accusations that an Air National Guard Chaplain, LtCol Dan Hornok, was “blatantly proselytizing” in a commentary he published on an Air Force website. The article and initial commentary can be seen here.
The basic questions were:
- Was the Chaplain “blatantly proselytizing?”
- What if the writer had not been a Chaplain?
- What do the Chaplain’s words—and the critic’s—say about the spiritual environment in the military?
Was the Chaplain “blatantly proselytizing?”
The shortest, most accurate answer: Read more
God and Country will return on 28 December. In the meantime, we leave you with the words of President Barack Obama, chatting with children during a visit to a Boys and Girls Club in Washington, DC. Amazingly, at least one person has implied Obama violated the Constitution in making these comments. The relationship between those in government service, the Constitution, and religion is certainly controversial–and misunderstood–in America today. Kudos to the President for not shying away from the legitimate discussion of religious beliefs, as well as respecting those of the children.
Have a wonderful celebration of the birth of our Savior. Merry Christmas.
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I think that the most important thing is just to remember why we celebrate Christmas.
CHILD: I know!
THE PRESIDENT: Do you know?
CHILD: The birth of baby Jesus.
THE PRESIDENT: The birth of baby Jesus, Read more