As has now been widely reported, US Army SPC Cesilia Valdovinos — who converted to Islam in March 2016 — has claimed discrimination over her wear of the hijab, for which she was granted a religious accommodation just last summer. According to Valdovinos, a senior enlisted leader required her to remove her hijab to prove her hair was being correctly worn underneath it. (While the accommodation was granted, she is still required to maintain certain standards, even under the hijab.) The reason for the “inspection” was the belief her hair was not properly maintained while under her hijab, as was required. When she removed the hijab, her hair was, indeed, down — though Valdovinos says it was because it was held up by the hijab itself. Valdovinos apparently found this exchange inappropriate and filed an EO complaint.
There are aspects to this story on both sides that Read more
The US Air Force’s Air Combat Command summarily rebuffed Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s complaint that it had “compromis[ed] the integrity of its solemn oath” and violated the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution.
Because of a poster.
As reported by the Air Force Times:
A pair of posters that focus on the importance of faith, which have been on display at Air Combat Command headquarters at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, for years, will not be altered — despite recent complaints about them — according to command officials.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation had contacted the base about removing the posters after complaints from the Langley community.
Weinstein apparently waited for a slow news day to reveal his loss to the Air Force, given that he was initially contacted by the “client” nearly two weeks ago and he normally revels in the Air Force’s immediate reaction.
The Air Force seemed unmoved [emphasis added]: Read more
A week ago, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein complained to US Navy CAPT Douglas Pfeifle that he was “essentially spiritually raping” his recruits after civilian chapel volunteers were summarily banned from the base earlier this month. CAPT Pfeifle replied to Weinstein the next day, saying he’d get back to him. A week later, with no response, Weinstein attempted to up the ante by having an actual lawyer write a letter to CAPT Pfeifle, claiming there was a “constitutional question” with the Recruit Training Command’s action [emphasis added]:
There is a constitutional question whether denying similarly situated individuals under your command substantially similar rights to exercise religious freedoms violates the right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
You don’t even have to crack out your high school American government books to see the error from Weinstein’s presumably high-brow lawyer. The Fifth Amendment contains important protections of citizens’ rights, but it has nothing to do with “equal protection.” That’s the Fourteenth Amendment.
The writer is Mr. Robert Eye of Kauffman-Eye, who Read more
Last year Michael “Mikey” Weinstein threatened to sue the US Army because it exposed a group of Soldiers to a chaplain’s prayer, which the chaplain closed with
through Your holy name…
In response, Weinstein demanded the chaplain be disciplined and the Soldiers be given an apology. Weinstein threatened an “aggressive” Federal lawsuit (as opposed to a benign lawsuit, apparently) if the Army refused his demands.
To be clear, Weinstein was willing to sue because a chaplain said “through Your holy name” during a prayer to a group of Soldiers in an auditorium.
Based on events just this week, will Weinstein threaten to sue again?
On Monday, US Army Chief of Chaplains (MajGen) Donald Rutherford prayed in uniform and on national television — and, shockingly, closed with…”in Your holy name.” Just Read more
In 2011 Dustin Chalker, a former Army Sergeant and now-discarded plaintiff of Michael Weinstein’s MRFF, created a petition on WhiteHouse.gov calling for an “End [to] the Military’s Discrimination against Non-Religious Service Members.”
The petition was two years old and was the second oldest unanswered petition on the site. The White House responded last Friday:
Thank you for your petition regarding the importance of ensuring non-religious members of our armed forces are not discriminated against…
The Obama Administration strongly supports every American’s right to religious freedom. This support extends equally both to the many members of our armed forces who hold religious beliefs and to those members of the military who do not hold such beliefs.
The response then addresses the Army’s Global Assessment Tool, which changed last year. In essence, the response to the petition says it is moot.
The White House response ignored Read more
The White House We The People website says the Administration will respond to petitions that garner 100,000 signatures in 30 days.
Due today, an MRFF petition to “investigate claim[s] of the military indoctrinating religious fundamentalism” only needed 99,995 more signatures. Five people Read more
It took about 16 months, but a WhiteHouse.gov petition by MRFF activist Dustin Chalker finally crossed 20,000 signatures.
As discussed previously, the petition — “End the Military’s Discrimination against Non-Religious Service Members” — claims the US military forces troops to participate in “religious rituals.” As you may recall, Chalker is the same person who made the ridiculous assertion that being present — just respectfully standing silent — while others pray is the same thing as participating in that prayer.
Under current rules, a survey has to Read more
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has called on the US Military Academy at West Point to “stop including prayer during official events.”
In a letter to Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon and other officials, Americans United asserted that the academy’s prayer policy runs afoul of the Constitution and violates the rights of cadets.
West Point responded simply by saying there are no mandatory prayers at the Academy. Americans United seems to believe the First Amendment was written to protect offended ears, not speech. Their letter supports — unwittingly or not — the stereotype that merely being exposed to a ‘religious act’ is offensive and therefore illegal [emphasis added]: Read more