It’s been long established that Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s awkwardly-named Military “Religious Freedom” Foundation actually fights against the religious freedom of Christians in the US military. Examples abound of cases in which a reasonable, principled religious liberty group should have stood up in defense of an Airman, Soldier, Marine, or Sailor, but Weinstein either refused to defend the troop because they were Christian or outright attacked their religious liberty instead.
Fortunately, genuine religious liberty groups have stood in the gap for such Christians — and have defended them even from Weinstein himself. One of the more notable groups is the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has a long history of, unlike Weinstein, consistent, principled defense of religious freedom regardless of a person’s particular religious belief.
(To wit, the Becket Fund has been fighting for the right of Sikhs to serve in the US military while still being able to practice their religious faith; Weinstein has so far refused to do so, tacitly acknowledging that a “win” for the Sikhs would ultimately be a win for other faiths — including Christians.)
More recently, Mikey Weinstein tried to attack the religious liberty of Read more
The Pentagon recently joined with a group of Sikhs in celebrating Vaisakhi and the Sikh New Year. Pentagon Chaplain (LtCol) Claude Brittian spoke of the importance of religious freedom:
“I believe that for me to be able to celebrate as a Christian, then I must stand up for the rights of others to celebrate in regards to their faith,” Brittian [said]…
“I am a firm believer that I should not be the one who is explaining Sikhism to the rest of the world,” he said. “I believe that those who practice their faith should have the opportunity to share their faith.”
Somewhat ironically, Sikhs aren’t permitted to serve in the US military, at least not while maintaining the articles Read more
In an interesting comparison on perspective, the Washington Times noted near the end of May that some were making an effort to “push [the] military for more religious liberty,” including members of Congress:
Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana Republican, criticized the military for appearing “zealous to shut down expressions of faith.”
“This is our military telling service members to raise their hands and ask permission before they dare to utter an expression of faith,” Mr. Fleming said during a speech at the Family Research Council.
Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund noted that Congress had twice passed laws requiring the US military to “be more accommodating to religious beliefs and practices,” laws Read more
The Deseret News carries its own commentary by Amy Choate-Nielsen on the recent changes to the DoD’s rules requiring religious accommodation. Interestingly, it uses two Jewish Soldiers as the central points of its article — even though the two have nothing to do with the policy changes:
For [Michael] Handman, the new NDAA law comes too late. Five years ago, the private was called derogatory names because of his faith, ordered to remove his yarmulke and rebuked for reading Jewish canon. Then, a few days after his letter home, on Sept. 24, 2008, Handman was lured into a laundry room and beaten to the point of unconsciousness, an Associated Press story says.
That story was discussed in detail here at the time. Retired US Read more
Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty wrote an interesting article at the beginning of the month entitled “Why the Constitution Demands Government-Paid Priests, Imams, Pastors, and Rabbis.” He concisely addresses both the need not only for the chaplaincy itself, but also very specific religious faith leaders within that chaplaincy:
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have unique religious needs because the government can snatch them away from their religious communities at a moment’s notice and for indefinite periods…Indeed, “[u]nless the [military] provided a chaplaincy, it would deprive the [service member] of his right under the Establishment Clause not to have religion inhibited and of his right under the Free Exercise Clause to practice his freely chosen religion.” Katcoff v. Marsh…
Blomberg explains why chaplains of specific faiths are necessary, Read more
Daniel Blomberg at the Alliance Defense Fund has an interesting article over the negative impact of DADT repeal implied even by those championing it:
If this change is risky enough that even the President scrambles to prevent it from happening “too quickly,” the Secretary of Defense who championed it focuses on limiting damage wrought by it, and most combat troops anticipate harm from it, why are we forcing it on our service men and women at all?
If you recall, some were asking how DADT repeal would improve the US military’s effectiveness. Blomberg points out it seems most say they’re doing what they can to “mitigate” the negative.
The Alliance Defense Fund previously wrote a letter to President Obama in which 41 retired Chaplains, speaking freely since they are outside military service, opposed the repeal of the policy known as “Don’t ask, don’t tell” on religious freedom grounds.
Last Friday they added to that number, with 25 new signatories. As noted at the ADF,
The letter states, “By raising homosexual behavior to the same protected class as innate, innocuous characteristics like race and gender, the armed forces will cast the sincerely held religious beliefs of many chaplains and Service members as rank bigotry comparable to racism.”
The release of the letter nearly coincided with Read more
While talking heads continue to declare that the repeal of the policy known as “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will have no impact on military Chaplains or Christians in the military, a US military Chaplain has just experienced evidence undermining that claim.
In an article entitled “Mounting religious liberty concerns in DADT,” the US military Chaplain, whose details are withheld to protect his career, is stationed with a foreign military service that allows homosexuals to openly serve. (The “success” of foreign militaries in integrating homosexuals into the service is often held up as a model for future American service.) Examples were cited that directly contradict the claims of those who support Read more