Mike Berry, deputy general counsel and director of military affairs for First Liberty Institute, writes at the Daily Caller in defense of the ability of members of the Air Force to volunteer with the Salvation Army. Michael “Mikey” Weinstein had previously tried to lodge a complaint about the practice at Grand Forks AFB, ND.
Berry makes the point often made here: To single out a group, organization, or opportunity because of religion is to discriminate on the basis of religion, something the military cannot do [emphasis added]:
The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause requires government neutrality towards religion. Neutrality not only means the government cannot favor a particular religion, but the government likewise may not demonstrate hostility against religion either. Read more
Update: From First Liberty’s Mike Berry:
At the end of the day, if anyone has been the victim of discrimination here, it’s been Chaplain Squires and Staff Sergeant Griffin. I’m thankful that a two-star general stepped in and corrected things, but it should never have come to that in the first place.
Fox News’ Todd Starnes reports on the First Liberty press release that the Army has rejected the recommendation to punish Chaplain (Maj) Scott Squires for how he handled a Strong Bonds marriage retreat when a homosexual couple said they wanted to come.
From First Liberty Institute: Read more
In an unusual step, the Army officer appointed to investigate a complaint against Chaplain (Major) Scott Squires and his assistant SSgt Kacie Griffin wrote a second, revised report released just last week (the original was reportedly issued months ago). The pair were accused of discriminating against a homosexual couple regarding a Strong Bonds marriage retreat to be led by Chaplain Squires.
It appears the new “do over” report was the result of First Liberty’s rebuttal in April, in which attorney and former US Marine JAG Mike Berry tore into the investigator’s reasoning and conclusions. It seems the new report was intended to defend against First Liberty’s legitimate concerns, including, for example, this admission from the investigator quietly placed in the new report [emphasis added]:
In my prior findings and recommendations memorandum, I stated that when CH Squires informed [redacted] of his restriction that this was a violation of EO policy. This was a misstatement of fact and law. It is not a violation of EO policy to state a fact and CH Squires is protected in doing so…
It wasn’t just a “misstatement” — it was a wholly Read more
US Army SSgt Kacie Griffin has reportedly lost her opportunity to go to college and become an officer due to a recent controversy over homosexuals and a Strong Bonds marriage retreat.
SSgt Griffin was the chaplain assistant to Chaplain (Maj) Scott Squires at Fort Bragg, which was planning the Strong Bonds event earlier this year. A homosexual couple apparently expressed interest in the event; Chaplain Squires was unable to lead a marriage event with homosexuals attending, so he rescheduled the retreat — so the homosexuals filed a complaint. The investigating officer recommended Chaplain Squires be reprimanded.
For her part, SSgt Griffin was handling the administrative part of the retreat:
“Griffin informed Chaplain Squires of the application and informed the applicant that Chaplain Squires would speak with her. For this purely administrative act, an Army investigator determined she ‘gave the impression she was not eligible for the event’ and should be reprimanded for failing to ‘timely answer’ her question,” First Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry said.
Though the “investigation” was reportedly finished months ago — and despite Read more
Monday, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force that will attempt to proactively protect the religious liberty of American citizens. During the announcement, AG Sessions said [emphasis added]:
A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated..
We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs…
The Task Force will help the Department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuring that all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt, and how we conduct our operations.
It’s an outstanding thing to hear our government say — to Read more
What every Christian service member should know
by Sonny Hernandez
Religious discrimination is not a myth that Christians should ignore. First Liberty Institute reported that a Southern Baptist military chaplain is being investigated—not because he violated a policy—but because of his religious convictions. Army Chaplain Scott Squires allegedly explained to a Soldier that he could not conduct a marriage retreat that included same sex couples because of his religious convictions that are mandated by his endorsing agency, and protected by Federal law. As a result, an Army investigator concluded that “Chaplain Squires discriminated because his chaplain endorsing agency, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), forbids its chaplains from facilitating marriage retreats that include same-sex couples,” according to the First Liberty Institute.
There are typically four phases that cultivate the discrimination process. Christians Read more
In an unusual case that will probably generate support and criticism from all sides, former Air Force Chaplain (Capt) Jeffrey Montanari has alleged that after he converted from Christianity to Judaism (as a chaplain) he faced discrimination and mistreatment, and that he was ultimately denied a position as a Jewish chaplain as a result.
Chaplain Montanari is now represented by First Liberty in a scenario likely making critics of “fundamentalist Christianity” heads explode. As reported in the Air Force Times [emphasis added]:
Montanari…became an officer and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve in 2010, endorsed by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel…
In 2012, he transferred to a position in the California Air National Guard…
[His experiences with the local Jewish community], coupled with his discovery of his own Jewish lineage, led Montanari to begin seriously considering a conversion to Orthodox Judaism.
But that decision allegedly came at a high cost.
Superiors allegedly demeaned his character, refused to grant him a religious accommodation, segregated him from the rest of the chaplain staff, and excluded him from chaplain meetings, according to a statement from his lawyers. They effectively drove him out of the Air Force because of his change in religious affiliation, his lawyers argue.
At this point, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein would Read more
In what seems to be second case of Equal Opportunity offices gone wild, another US military EO office has determined that a Christian military officer is guilty of discrimination — and should be reprimanded — because of his religious beliefs about sexuality.
US Army Chaplain Scott Squires was apparently tasked to host a Strong Bonds marriage retreat — and a homosexual couple signed up. Chaplain Squires is a Southern Baptist, and his ecclesiastical endorser has said Southern Baptist chaplains can’t perform ministry that might appear to condone sexual sin. (This would be equally true for any Catholic or Muslim chaplain.) Thus, Chaplain Squires rescheduled the Strong Bonds event to a weekend in which another chaplain — one whose faith group would support a homosexual “marriage” — could host the event.
That wasn’t good enough. The Soldier complained to EO — and the EO office said the chaplain should be reprimanded [emphasis added]: Read more