It was bound to happen: The Headquarters of the US Army has denied a young Soldier’s request for a religious accommodation to wear a beard.
US Army SPC John Hoskins claimed to be a “Pastafarian,” whose “deity,” if you will, is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
In January, LtGen Thomas Seamands, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for personnel, denied the request [emphasis added]:
1. I have considered your request for a religious accommodation to permit you to grow a beard in observance of your Pastafarian beliefs, along with the recommendations of your chain of command. I deny your request for an exception to Army personal appearance and grooming standards. A copy of this disapproval memorandum will be placed in your Army Military Human Resource Record (AMHRR).
2. Your request for an accommodation is denied based on a lack of a sincerely held religious belief.
3. This decision is final with Read more
As if it needed to be said, a US District Court has ruled that the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his creed of Pastafarianism is satire, not religion:
In a 16-page decision, the U.S. District Court of Nebraska ruled on April 12 that Pastafarianism is satire, not sacred, and that anyone who thinks it is a religion has made an error “of basic reading comprehension.”
(This comes as the Associated Press trumpeted the “First Pastafarian Wedding.”) This has affected the US military in the past, when atheists and critics Read more
Master Chief Petty Officer Bob Sebaste of the US Coast Guard had a retirement ceremony in June in which he was presented with an interesting gift [emphasis added]:
I retired recently after 29 years of service in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. The guys I work with know that I am an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. For our holiday party, for example, I ensured that His Noodly Goodness was properly represented, as well as the Festivus pole and other more mainstream (mundane) religious symbols.
In any case, at my retirement ceremony, they presented me with this most excellent headgear, appropriately decorated with my CG rank insignia.
The concept of the “flying spaghetti monster” is Read more
Along with Sikhs, Humanists, homosexuals, and transgenders, another group seeking “official” US military recognition is heathens. Writing at Religion News Service, Kimberly Winston — normally RNS’s atheist hired writer — recounts the stories of self-described military heathens who want to put “heathen” on their dog tags:
Jeremiah McIntyre wants to be called a Heathen.
The 38-year-old Army sergeant follows the old Norse religion Asatru, in which the god Thor swings his hammer in the sky and Odin rules a heavenly place called Valhalla. Should McIntyre die, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would allow a hammer of Thor on his tombstone.
But the Army does not otherwise currently recognize the active-duty soldier’s faith…
That much is true, as has been previously discussed more than once. Winston then digresses into what she perceives as affronts to the unrecognized heathen masses: Read more
A federal district court has ruled that the City of Warren, Michigan, was within its rights to exclude an atheist display from its annual public Christmas display. In short, the court said the purpose of the atheist display was to be nothing more than a counter-display and its content could be disruptive.
[T]he Mayor sets forth permissible bases for denial—that the Sign was meant to counter the Nativity Scene, not celebrate the holiday season, and that the anti-religious language of the sign, in this context, could lead to a disruption of city business. There is nothing indicating the Mayor denied placement of the Sign solely in defense of religion; religion was simply not the appropriate subject-matter.
The case was Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. City of Warren, Michigan.
This is relevant to the military because atheists last year tried the same Read more
The “Werewolves” have become the “Crusaders” once again.
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122) is returning to its traditional name, reverting to the “Crusaders” by which it was known for 50 years.
During a 70th anniversary party last month, officials from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 announced that the unit would be again known as the “Crusaders,” a moniker used by the unit from 1958 to January 2008.
When Marine LtCol William Lieblein took command in 2008, he was concerned the “notion of being a crusader” wouldn’t “float” in Iraq, Read more
When the US Air Force Academy “Falcon Circle” chapel facility went through its various controversies over the past year, one group was oddly silent: atheists. There were no loud cries from atheists over the US military’s waste of money to create yet another religious facility, nor were there any over the fact military atheists can’t even use the facility.
Like many US military bases, USAFA restricts the use of chapel facilities to religious gatherings:
All services held at the Cadet Chapel must be religious in nature and be conducted by a clergyperson or led by a lay-leader approved by the Cadet Wing Chaplain or designee.
Thus, unless an atheist group can sincerely say it is “religious in nature,” it can’t use the Falcon Circle as a barbecue pit this summer, while every religious Read more
The US Air Force has decided to let the nativity and Menorah at Travis AFB stand, despite the prior complaint from Michael Weinstein and his erstwhile atheist ally:
While we appreciate the concerns raised by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the Office of the Air Force Judge Advocate General, upon review, concluded the inclusion of a Wing Chaplain sponsored Nativity Scene and Menorah as part of a broader, secular holiday seasonal display does not violate the establishment clause of the United States Constitution.
Weinstein complained about the timing of the press release, as his most pressing concern is publicity. (He probably thinks the death of Kim Jong Il was part of the timing plan.) He then said
We believe they have come to the wrong conclusion based on constitutional law. Rather than telling media through a press release we rather suggest five words: tell it to the judge.
The Air Force has little reason to be concerned. The last time Weinstein said that he did…nothing. Weinstein is “the boy who cried wolf” with respect to threats of filing lawsuits.
According to American Atheists’ “military director” Justin Griffith, Travis Read more