Though it doesn’t seem to have broken into the mainstream press, a US Air Force instructor pilot at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, has been fighting for months to have the military honor his religious objection to wearing a mask. Two of the pilot’s superiors approved the request, despite some misgivings. However, a third superior overturned that approval. As discussed in July:
The unnamed airman, identified as Capt. John Doe by the nonprofit First Amendment litigation firm Liberty Counsel, argues his “Christian beliefs do not permit him to wear a mask,” said the firm, which specializes in religious freedom cases. He was suspended from duty on May 17 and from flying on June 8…
As hills to die on go, this wouldn’t be an ideal choice… but he does have a point.
In the Air Force policy requiring masks published last February, the very first exception was for religious beliefs:
Effective immediately all individuals on Department property…will wear masks… The DAF-wide exceptions are as follows:
(1) when necessary to reasonably accommodate a religious belief…
Capt “Doe” notes that two chaplains verified Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and his research assistant Christine “Chris” Rodda have been railing against US Army 1LT Alex Stovall for the past couple of months. Stovall is a member of the Army Reserve, and he’s also a candidate for Arizona’s ninth congressional district.
Stovall’s political comments – made as a candidate in the vein of Donald Trump – have drawn much of the MRFF’s ire, as has the fact he’s shown up in campaign ads and interviews while in uniform.
Making political comments while a civilian – that is, a Reservist not on orders – is a non-event. There are quite a few US military members in Congress on both sides of the aisle (according to the CRS, 14 in both houses), and they’ve certainly all made political comments about their political adversaries and the Nation’s leadership. When not on military orders, they are civilians and can speak as such — which is why Army Capt Alan Kennedy sued his chain of command over the punishments he received while participating in BLM “protests” while not on orders.
Even as a failed lawyer and JAG who was apparently relegated to administrative law while in the Air Force, Mikey Weinstein should still know this, but the accusation makes for “good” press for him. It attracts the attention of those who don’t know any better – even if it’s not entirely true.
Wearing the uniform while engaged in political activity is certainly an issue (and it has been an issue for others in the past), but it has nothing to do with religion or religious liberty in the US military, which makes you wonder why Weinstein is trying to become the uniform police for the military. The nexus for Weinstein’s cabal comes in the fact that Stovall is a Reserve chaplain candidate – and this is where Weinstein and Rodda go off the rails, recently Read more
In which Mikey Weinstein learns he doesn’t rise to the level of Tucker Carlson.
If Donald Trump were the current President of the United States – a man who at one point declared the media to be the “enemy of the people” – perhaps the US military’s verbal attacks of FoxNews would have garnered more pushback.
Last week, FoxNews commentator Tucker Carlson lambasted the ‘woke’ military after President Biden chose to highlight – of all the things he could have mentioned – “maternity flight suits”:
Perhaps maternity flight suits have been around for a while. We’ve never heard of them. But here was the President of the United States promoting them at a press conference. That phrase stuck out not because we have some hateful bias against pregnant women flying military jets. We’re pro-pregnancy, as we often say. We’re also open-minded. Maybe pregnant women make the best pilots. The Department of Defense measures everything, so there has to be extensive research on this question. If the Pentagon can show that pregnant pilots are the best, we will be the first to demand an entire Air Force of pregnant pilots.
The problem is, we’re pretty confident that Joe Biden hasn’t asked to see those numbers. We’d bet money he never even thought to ask.
The rest of us depend on the U.S. military to protect our families and to protect the country itself. Joe Biden doesn’t see it that way. Finding the most effective military pilots — or infantry officers, or SEAL teams — is not his priority. It’s not even close to his priority. Identity politics is Joe Biden’s priority. It’s all that matters.
It’s obvious to Read more
The US Senate confirmed Biden appointee — and former Obama Chief of Staff — Denis McDonough as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Monday.
A relatively unnoticed office for most of the US public, the VA Secretary has, like so many positions, become increasingly political and controversial. Robert Wilkie, the previous VA Secretary under President Trump, made waves when the VA decided to put the VA motto on plaques at 142 VA cemeteries last summer. This wouldn’t seem like a big deal, except the VA motto is a quote from a speech made by President Abraham Lincoln: Read more
Various outlets have reported the US Navy reversed the “controversial” decision (highlighted here yesterday) to cancel contracts for civilian Catholic chaplains, which was reportedly done either as a cost-savings or because it didn’t serve the proper demographic, depending on who you asked.
The religious services will continue for at least the next year, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander Navy Region Southwest, said in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.
“Contrary to previous discussions, this year we will continue contracted religious ministry programs and services similar to what we’ve had in place previously,” Bolivar said. “We will also continue to assess how best to meet the needs of our sailors and their families throughout the region.”
The decision to axe the civilian chaplain contracts was criticized by Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese that encompasses the military service.
The Navy’s actions had even caught the attention of their Commander-in-Chief, with President Trump tweeting about the reversal: Read more
Last month, despite the lack of any pronouncement from their Commander-in-Chief, a few US military facilities continued the Obama-era tradition of celebrating the sexual behaviors of a few of their service members.
At Yokosuka, the US Navy held a socially-distanced Pride cake cutting, attended by about 10 people, including the facility’s commander, Navy Capt Rich Garrett.
Naval Warfare Center Dahlgren celebrated Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley in an in-depth personal profile, noting he
volunteers…in the Hampton Roads LGBTQ+ community by performing as the drag queen, Harpy Daniels.
March Air Reserve Base noted the “evangelistic” message of Marvin Tucker, who Read more
As reported at the Religion Clause, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has permitted the optional inclusion of “So Help Me God” in the oath of naturalization. Referring to the test used by the Supreme Court regarding the Bladensburg Peace Cross, the Court said:
We follow the Supreme Court’s most recent framework and apply American Legion’s presumption of constitutionality to the phrase “so help me God” in the naturalization oath because we consider the inclusion of similar words to be a ceremonial, longstanding practice as an optional means of completing an oath. And because the record does not demonstrate a discriminatory intent in maintaining those words in the oath or “deliberate disrespect” by the inclusion of the words, Perrier-Bilbo cannot overcome the presumption.
That amount of legal defense almost seems ridiculous, given that the plaintiff was complaining about an optional phrase. She wasn’t trying to avoid saying something she didn’t want to; she wanted to prevent others the option of saying it. She’d already been given more than one option to omit the phrase: Read more
Robert Wilkie, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, recently published a column hailing a victory for religious freedom that has mostly gone unnoticed — but it is not insignificant.
On January 16th — Religious Freedom Day — the media widely covered President Trump’s proposed changes to federal regulations that would protect prayer and religious exercise in schools. Less widely discussed was the change to the discriminatory treatment of religious organizations within the Federal services.
Under President Obama, faith-based organizations that Read more