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
Officers’ Christian Fellowship and First Liberty Institute recently participated in an episode of OCF’s fledgling Crosspoint podcast in which retired Navy JAG CAPT Chris Blake and First Liberty lawyer (and Reserve Marine JAG) Mike Berry discussed the “religious rights of those in uniform.”
At one point, CAPT Blake asks “what has changed” over the past few decades that makes it seem the support for religious freedom has waned since the unashamed exercise of faith years ago. To that, Mike Berry had a witty reply:
The opponents of religious freedom have become louder…but that doesn’t make them more correct.
That was an observation Read more
Writing in the Stars and Stripes, First Liberty attorney Mike Berry rebutted recent calls to restrict religious freedom in the US military.
Referring to last month’s appeal by the Freedom from Religion Foundation and American Atheists for Secretary of Defense James Mattis to end military prayers, Berry pointed out the errors of the groups’ demands and then said [emphasis added]
Were the DOD to give in to the groups’ demands, the harm our military would suffer would be catastrophic. Religious freedom in the military is not a luxury; it is every bit a necessity as bullets, beans and bandages. Religious freedom is a force multiplier that enables all troops — regardless of their faith, or no faith — to prepare themselves for what may be required of them in military service.
The taking of a life — or indeed, the ultimate sacrifice of one’s own life — while Read more
The Air Force Times reports that the Family Research Council and American Family Association delivered a petition to the Air Force last week calling for the reversal of adverse action taken against Col Leland Bohannon.
The petition…was accompanied by a letter signed by a coalition of 31 religious liberty advocacy groups that also asks Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to correct Air Force policy on religious expression.
The letter (PDF), signed first by Gen Jerry Boykin, reiterated the legitimate Read more
A group of US Senators has written a letter (PDF) asking US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson not only to “restore justice” to unjustly punished Colonel Leland Bohannon, but also to explain how the Air Force’s actions comport with its — and her — stated support for religious liberty [emphasis added]:
We therefore ask that you, as Secretary of the Air Force, clarify the branch’s position on religious liberty. We ask that you instruct the Air Force to issue formal guidance and provide adequate training to commanders so that they know how to properly and respectfully address the religious liberty rights of their subordinates.
Lastly, we request that you investigate Read more