In a fairly bluntly worded official Air Force article, SSgt Shelton Sherrill provided a decent explanation for the sometimes misunderstood role of a military chaplain:
According to the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. For military members, chaplains are one of main advocates to help them protect this right.
Chaplains…provide religious accommodations to ensure everyone is free to exercise their beliefs, provide ethical advice to leadership, unit visitations and confidential counseling.
Edit: Actually, commanders are the ones who provide religious accommodations, not chaplains, as chaplains have no authority to authorize anything. (Chaplains famously have “rank without command.”) However, Read more
As previously noted, Dr. Alex McFarland recently participated in a four-person debate with Michael “Mikey” Weinstein. Within the debate, it was refreshing to hear Dr. McFarland articulate a defense of the virtue of religious freedom, including military religious freedom.
Mikey Weinstein didn’t say anything he hasn’t already said a dozen times over the past decade — except to directly contradict Dr. McFarland’s assertion that a Christian who witnesses to another doesn’t do so because they consider them less of a person or otherwise devalue Read more
Nathan Newman, an Air Force Reserve Officer and George C. Marshall Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, responded to an article in the Colorado Springs Gazette by Tom Roeder discussing the (previously discussed) 4-year closure of the US Air Force Academy Chapel.
In it, Roeder had said:
Religion is a big deal at the academy and other military bases but not for the reasons one might suspect. The services are barred from evangelism, and promotion of faith is restricted, but the academy like the rest of the military must care for the religious needs of troops under federal law.
In the guest column, Newman responded: Read more
Last month, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein claimed he had made an “important achievement” in “rebuilding the shattered wall separating church and state!” because, according to him, the Commanding Officer of the Air Force Recruiting Service promised to remove a chaplain recruiting video Weinstein found “inappropriate.” According to Weinstein, MajGen Garrett Harencak
responded within a few hours that all Chaplain [sic] videos are being removed pursuant to an overhaul of ‘AirForce.com’ and that he would see to it that the removal of this particular video is accelerated.
A month later, not only is the video still up at AirForce.com — but, in unusually blunt words, the Air Force is actually defending it [emphasis added]:
Air Force Headquarters at the Pentagon told Military.com it does not see a problem with [the video]…
“Chaplains being available to airmen for spiritual support, and sharing these experiences in their official capacity, does not violate the establishment clause or Air Force regulations.”
There are three important issues here: Read more
As previously noted, the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel invited five civilian witnesses to provide testimony on the state of religious freedom in the US military last Wednesday.
- Michael Berry, Liberty Institute attorney who acted on behalf of cadets at the US Air Force Academy this year
- Retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews, an outspoken advocate for military religious freedom
- Travis Weber, Director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, US Naval Academy graduate and former Naval aviator.
- Rabbi Bruce Kahn, a retired Navy Captain and Chaplain, a founding member of the Equal Rights Center, and an advocate for homosexual “rights.”
- Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, founder and sole employee of his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, engaged in a self-described “war” against Christians in the US military.
Contrary to some predictions, it wasn’t really a contentious meeting. What the hearing did reveal was the committee members were Read more
The US Army War College published a monograph on the core topic of the US military’s “evolving culture of hostility toward religious presence and expression.” The authors were Don Snider, a Senior Fellow in the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE) at West Point and an Adjunct Research Professor in the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College, and retired US Army Col Alex Shine of the War College.
The paper, entitled “A Soldier’s Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army’s Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession?“, is clearly meant to be academic, but at 30 pages makes for a fairly easy – and worthwhile – read.
The authors focus on the influence of changing social values on ethics within the US military, as demonstrated in the increasing secularism in American society that is essentially hostile to religion: Read more
On FoxNews (video), US Rep John Fleming (R-La) said the NDAA clause the House passed and the Senate cleared through the Armed Services committee says that:
…military members are fully entitled to express their faith, as long as it is within certain confines, which would be military readiness, good order and discipline, military necessity, and of course without any coercion to others, and for some reason, the [Obama] administration has been against that.
That’s what Michael Weinstein calls a “nasty amendment” that is a “license to kill?” On its face, it is a preeminent and explicit Read more
Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion: it comes from hearing, and it is meant to find expression in words and to be proclaimed.
– Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), as published at Religion News Service