Many have grown accustomed to Congress taking the military to task for what it considers breaches of the religious freedom of US troops. Sometimes those congressional reprimands seem to have “fixed” issues. Other times they haven’t — and Congress has decided to pass a law to fix it instead.
It was an interesting turn, then, to see Congress go out of its way not to chide once more, but to laud the Air Force for defending religious liberty:
Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) led a bicameral letter of support to Pease Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in response to a complaint that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) lodged against the base…
“We don’t plan on responding to the FFRF,” [Greg Heilshorn, spokesman for the New Hampshire National Guard] said. “We haven’t had any formal complaints from our airmen internally regarding any concerns with prayers being said at various ceremonies. We will continue as we’ve done before. It’s our tradition. We believe our chaplains…[are a] vital part of our organization.”
Well done. The US military is not obligated to respond to the FFRF — or any other third party complaint — at all. By declining to do so, they avoid the perception they are legitimizing the FFRF or its generalized accusations about religious expression in the US military. Meanwhile, if there are any actual complainants who have an actionable grievance, they still have access to every grievance system within the military.
A concerned guardsman informed FFRF that ceremonies at the Pease Air National Guard Base regularly have chaplains delivering invocations. These include readings from the bible and references to a Christian god. Attendance at these ceremonies is mandatory for all guardsmen.
The FFRF’s legal analysis was short and to the point: Read more
The town of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, opted to create a “limited public forum” after the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to sue them into financial ruin.
Because of a veterans’ memorial.
A display in a cemetery in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, honoring veterans consists of a soldier kneeling in prayer before a cross next to a grave. But a local citizen complained to the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation. Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Doug Wardlow tells OneNewsNow the city council received a threatening letter from FFRF, contending the Constitution was being violated.
The town council initially voted to cut the cross off the memorial — which Read more
“Tattoo, tattoo, lights out in five minutes, standby for the evening prayer…”
A short but interesting article from the US Navy describes how Navy chaplain candidates — “chaplain candidate program officers,” or “CCPOs”) — are visiting aboard the embarked nuclear aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
The Montana ski resort statue known as “Big Mountain Jesus” has survived the most recent challenge to have it torn down (from the appeal argued in July). The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a small atheist group that scours the country for signs of religion over which to be offended, sued because the statue is technically on federal land, though the land is perpetually leased to a ski resort. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty defended the statue.
The statue was built in the style of European shrines by the Knights of Columbus to honor the 10th Mountain Division. The Division’s soldiers fondly recalled the many shrines they saw during their combat in World War II. In that regard, it was not raised as a religious shrine itself, as the FFRF claims, but as a memorial that invokes those shrines as an homage to the 10th Mountain Division.
The Appeals Court panel found, in a 2-1 ruling, the statue was essentially secular in purpose — including as justification its “irreverent” use: Read more
In 2014 the Freedom From Religion Foundation appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit intended to remove a statue of Jesus from public land (which is leased as a ski resort). The affectionately named “Big Mountain Jesus” statue was erected as a memorial to the 10th Mountain Division, who recalled seeing many similar shrines during their campaign in Italy during World War II.