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 Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists sent a letter (PDF) yesterday to Secretary of Defense James Mattis calling on him to act to end “coerced religious observances” within the military. Alison Gill and Rebecca Markert write that
The complainants allege, among other things, that facility organizers regularly include scheduled prayer in graduation ceremonies, cadets who opt not to attend worship services on Sundays are instead given menial tasks to perform, and instructors regularly lead recruits in prayers prior to administering tests.
The letter provides no examples. It appears to Read more
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…
As you’ll recall, the FFRF lodged vague, vicarious complaints about chaplains’ prayers during official events. Pease AFB was so unmoved it didn’t even bother to respond to the FFRF.
Congressman Collins, who is also an Air Force Reserve Chaplain, led Read more
Not long after receiving a letter (PDF) from the First Liberty Institute, the New Hampshire Air National Guard at the Pease ANG Base has said they have chosen to ignore the previously reported complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
“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.
Part of the issue with Read more
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has demanded that New Hampshire’s Pease Air National Guard (Facebook) base stop including prayer in association with official events:
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).
Of note [emphasis added]: Read more
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, whose apparent mission is to scour the public landscape for things over which to be offended, recently told the town of Hondo, Texas, that their welcome sign was unconstitutional.
The City Attorney, Frank Garza, told the “humorless” FFRF what he thought of that, noting first that the sign “clearly” survives the Lemon Test, and, more importantly, no one has been harmed: Read more