For the second time, the US Navy has denied the application of Dr. Jason Heap to become a “humanist chaplain” in the sea service. A Navy board had supported his appointment; when word of that decision leaked, members of both the House and Senate wrote the Navy in protest. Those congressmen have now revealed that the Navy has rejected Heap’s application, again.
Heap’s application as been widely opposed by religious liberty groups, largely because humanism isn’t a religion — and the chaplaincy is religious.
On that point, Hemant Mehta, the poorly Read more
Though not officially announced, a few websites and organizations have revealed that the Navy Chaplain Appointment and Retention Eligibility (CARE) Advisory Group has recommended that Jason Heap, an atheist, be appointed a US Navy chaplain. (The official silence may be because CARE’s decision was leaked in violation of Navy policy, which dictates the sessions be “closed” with members forbidden from “discussing deliberations or recommendations”.)
Heap had previously sued the Navy over its denial of his application to become a chaplain. The lawsuit was largely dismissed, though some claims proceeded. One site claimed the suit was subsequently “settled” under unpublicized terms.
Navy regulations say the CARE group is primarily composed of senior chaplains and other senior leaders. CARE ensures the “full spectrum” of professional qualifications is considered when someone applies to be a chaplain. The objective, in context, is to prevent people from becoming chaplains just because they meet the bare minimum requirements.
CARE’s role is to validate Read more
For the third year in a row, the US House of Representatives included a religious liberty clause when it passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act. The last two years have required the US military to protect religious expression. This year, after several examples of “confusion” regarding religion in the US military, the amendment to the NDAA requires the military to “issue clearer regulations regarding religious expression.”
Congressman Doug Lamborn proposed Read more
Retired USAF MajGen Bentley Rayburn, potential competition for sitting US Rep Doug Lamborn, recently said Congressman Lamborn wasn’t doing enough for religious freedom in the Air Force. He wrote a guest column in the Colorado Springs Gazette, local to USAFA, giving his take on recent controversies:
Nobody can state with a straight face that the act of posting a Bible verse on a white board infringes or damages anyone else’s constitutionally protected individual rights…
Air Force Instruction 1-1 para 2-12 is without equivocation in stating that Airmen “should confidently practice [their] own beliefs while respecting others whose viewpoints differ from your own…”
To walk away from creating a culture at the Air Force Academy where ideas are expressed, debated, defended and strengthened is to make it a third-rate school, hardly deserving to be called a real university.
And what kind of men and women Read more
Update: Congressman Lamborn’s potential political rivals reacted, with Republican Bentley Rayburn, a retired Major General and 1975 USAFA graduate, saying Lamborn hasn’t done enough to support religious freedom at USAFA, while Democrat Irv Halter, also a retired Major General and 1977 USAFA graduate, says Lamborn has gone too far.
A few weeks ago congressmen asked the Secretary of the Air Force to document and explain the Air Force religious policy and its application at the US Air Force Academy, following USAFA’s command decision to pull down a Bible verse on a cadet’s whiteboard. As noted then and in a subsequent congressional hearing, the Air Force has relied heavily on AFI 1-1, a Chief of Staff level AFI published in the final days of General Norton Schwartz’s tenure in 2012.
Now, Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado (home to the US Air Force Academy) has written a letter signed by 22 other congressmen asking Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James to revise the policy at issue:
The August 2012 Air Force regulations which govern religious freedom and expression (AFI 1-1) are inconsistent with Congressional intent and current law…
The first issue Lamborn cites is the “undefinable” standard the Air Force uses [emphasis added]: Read more
While many people may have opinions, the fact is there is no Air Force policy or regulation at all that addresses Bible verses or other public displays of religion — even in an official office setting, even by Air Force “leaders.”
Based on actual military policy, Air Force cadets — and enlisted, and officers — remain free to have verses on their whiteboards and Bibles on their desks, even if some people don’t agree or like it. The mere association of an Air Force leader with a religious belief cannot reasonably be interpreted to be improper — or else far more censorship and restriction on conduct needs to occur. After all, if a cadet can’t handle seeing a Bible verse on a whiteboard, how will he react when he sees his commander wearing a yarmulke?
US Air Force Academy cadets spoke out — anonymously — after the recent kerfuffle over Bible verses on dry erase boards. Their statements are mature and well-considered: Read more
As previously noted, the House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel heard testimony from several witnesses on religious freedom in the military after the DoD’s recent changes to accommodation policy.
The Stars and Stripes noted that while many have focused on ‘turbans and beards,’ Congress didn’t:
Accommodation for minority religions was not the main concern of the primarily Republican House members present Wednesday, however. Many of their questions centered around allegations that free expression of faith by Christian believers was being suppressed…
Instances of Christians being told Read more
The Liberty Institute, the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and the Family Research Council — all members of the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition — successfully waged a campaign to have the US Army order an end to briefings which labeled mainstream Christian groups “extremist.”
As reported by Todd Starnes at FoxNews:
“On several occasions over the past few months, media accounts have highlighted instances of Army instructors supplementing programs of instruction and including information or material that is inaccurate, objectionable and otherwise inconsistent with current Army policy,” Army Sec. John McHugh wrote to military leaders in a memorandum I obtained.
McHugh “directed that Army leaders cease all briefings, command presentations or training on the subject of extremist organizations or activities until that program of instruction and training has been created and disseminated,” Army spokesman Col. David Patterson, Jr., tells me.
Multiple briefings were presented as evidence of a widespread Read more