Tulsi Gabbard is a Democrat representing Hawaii’s 2nd District in the US House of Representatives. She is also a Major in the Army National Guard and a recently declared presidential candidate.
She is also a Hindu.
In response to criticisms regarding her religion and her political aspirations, Gabbard wrote a strongly worded rebuttal published at Religion News Service saying “religious bigotry is un-American” [emphasis added]:
While the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this historic first [a Hindu presidential candidate], and maybe even informed Americans about the world’s third largest religion, some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters…
Some media outlets have chosen to craft a false narrative of intrigue by profiling and targeting all of my donors who have names of Hindu origin and accusing them of being “Hindu nationalists.”
Today it’s the profiling and targeting of Hindu Americans and ascribing to them motives without any basis. Tomorrow will it be Muslim or Jewish Americans? Japanese, Hispanic or African Americans?
While Gabbard is right to protest Read more
In what has become a predictable annual event, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has again begun lodging his regular complaints about prayer breakfasts/luncheons being hosted on military bases or for military audiences around the country.
In January, Weinstein demanded Fort Jackson drop its invitation to Kenneth Copeland, because Mikey Weinstein disapproved of Copeland’s theology.
This month, Weinstein is demanding Whiteman AFB remove the commander’s “endorsement” from the wing’s annual prayer breakfast event announcement.
In the former example, the Army rightfully ignored Weinstein, and the event occurred as planned, despite Weinstein’s desperate pleas.
In the latter example, Weinstein is Read more
Each year since 1993 the President has declared January 16th to be “Religious Freedom Day,” in order to remember the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. President Trump has not yet released his proclamation.
Update: From President Trump’s proclamation [emphasis added]:
Our Constitution and laws guarantee Americans the right not just to believe as they see fit, but to freely exercise their religion. Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification. These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy…No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law.
Jefferson’s statute continues to be a strong expression for the value of religious liberty even today. Though the statute has been discussed in many places and in great depth, there are two important points to take from the statute. First, Read more
An interesting perspective [emphasis added]:
“There is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved…
If I lived in a communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws. Read more
The US military — generally considered the organization that defends the rights of Americans — is being used by activists in an attempt to restrict the rights of Americans.
Hidden within the Supreme Court oral arguments during Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission yesterday was the siren call, yet again, that homosexual rights outweigh all others — because of the US military [emphasis added]: Read more
The following excerpt is from Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Memorandum for All Executive Departments and Agencies regarding “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty”. Emphasis added. The document is available as a PDF here (.gov).
Religious liberty is a foundational principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law…Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place. It also encompasses religious observance and practice. Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law.
Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting, and programming. The following twenty principles should guide administrative agencies and executive departments in carrying out this task.
- The freedom of religion is a fundamental right of paramount importance, expressly protected by federal law.
- The free exercise of religion include the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.
- The freedom of religion extends to persons and organizations.
- Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in the marketplace, partaking of the public square, or interacting with government.
- Government may not restrict Read more
As reported at the Stars and Stripes, the Air Force has defended Chaplain (Capt) Sonny Hernandez’s recent publication of his views on Christianity and military religious freedom [emphasis added]:
Air Force Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Chad Gibson said Hernandez is expressing his own views, not those of the Air Force, and his freedom to express his own faith is an essential protection in the military. The Air Force is not conducting an investigation, he said.
“I think we should reflect on why the Air Force is here,” Gibson said. “We are sworn to protect freedom of faith and religion unless it infringes on other people’s rights.”
That’s an admirably bold and direct statement from Read more
Chaplain Hernandez’s previously discussed column on military Christians and religious freedom continues to receive critiques — more accurately, criticism — from a wide variety of sources.
One of the more interesting responses came from Don Byrd of the Baptist Joint Committee, a left leaning advocacy group that tends to take a more atheistic view of religious liberty than most Baptists.
In a blog entitled “Air Force Chaplain is Wrong to Oppose Religious Liberty Rights for All,” Byrd began with a principled observation ignored by most [emphasis added]:
Capt. Hernandez is of course free to believe according to his conscience and faith…The controversial issue of salvation for non-Christians is a question of Christian theology, not public policy…
Personal theological beliefs do not disqualify an individual from public service.
Byrd then added a significant “however” [emphasis added]: Read more