Jason Torpy, the former Army Captain and perpetually offended atheist, recently took issue with a deployment ceremony conducted by the the 1st Battalion, 182nd Field Artillery Regiment, Michigan National Guard. The reason? The ceremony was performed in a church. The official Guard news release noted
family, friends and guests [gathered on] October 17th at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Sanctuary in Detroit to honor the Michigan Army National Guard, 1st Battalion (HIMARS), 182nd Field Artillery Regiment as they depart for Read more
The Air Force Times has editorialized that
Before the Air Force can move past its reputation for religious intolerance, it must do one more thing: Eliminate prayers from official events.
Beginning an editorial with such a statement certainly reveals the tone. After all, while the Air Force has been accused of intolerance by vocal critics, no institutional intolerance has ever been substantiated, and there is no public indication that intolerance is a valid “reputation” of the Air Force.
The editorial also treats a fairly complex issue rather whimsically. The simple and unexplained demand that the Air Force “eliminate prayers from official events,” after all, would have prevented a Chaplain from praying at the nationally-televised memorial service at Fort Hood attended by the President. Read more
A few weeks ago, the Air Force Times solicited comments from its readers after noting the “improved religious climate” at the US Air Force Academy. They asked:
What do you think? Have you found the service and its members to be tolerant of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans and others who are not Christians?
It would appear, based on the most recent Air Force Times article, that the responses were largely positive. The article is entitled “Respect healthy for different faiths,” which seems to indicate a positive environment for “different faiths” within the Air Force.
Within the article, however, the author focuses on those who take issue with Christianity in the military, rather than the ‘healthy respect’ that is apparently evident. The article begins with the presumption of truth in claims that the culture of the Air Force causes an ‘assumption’ of Christianity:
A predominance of Christians in the Air Force creates an atmosphere that assumes all airmen are Christians, allowing prayers and other religious displays at everything from football games and holiday parties to commander’s calls and change-of-command ceremonies, according to non-Christian airmen interviewed by Air Force Times.
While there is a “predominance of Christians” in the United States and in its military, the presence of prayer is not inherently a Christian endeavor, and Read more
An Army Chaplain has made his mark by praying with soldiers before every convoy departs Al Asad, Iraq. Chaplain (Capt.) Michael Lanigan is the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Chaplain.
“I come out here every night, this is exactly what I feel like God has designed me to do–to bring faith to the fight in a place where men and women just need encouragement.” Lanigan said that he does not inspire with just his words, but with God’s words, and that he believes that is a powerful thing.
The Chaplain also notes that faith, not his position as Chaplain, is what the Soldiers Read more
The moving and often emotional memorial service marking the loss of life at Fort Hood was infused with military ceremony and tradition. Military officers explained that memorials were a part of the process in war; the units gathered to memorialize their fallen, send them home, and then gather their gear to continue the mission.
Flags flew at half-staff, the National Anthem played, speakers lauded the fallen, and the sounding of taps echoed the solemnity of the occasion. Each fallen soldier was represented by a “battlefield cross:” a helmet atop an inverted rifle with bayonet and boots. A uniformed soldier sang Amazing Grace.
Another part of the tradition is prayers offered for the fallen, their friends, and their families. Chaplain (Col) Michael Lembke, Army III Corps Chaplain, wore his religious stole across the shoulders of his military uniform that bore the Christian cross and prayed to “Lord God Almighty,” asking God to “draw us to You” and to “restore to us a spirit of joy and hope.”
The fitting memorial was laden with traditions that critics–including Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation–have repeatedly and vociferously opposed.
Yet today, they remained silent.
The thought that a moving ceremony such as this might be curtailed due to Weinstein’s complaints is an anathema to the American spirit. Yet that is the Read more
The integration of Chaplains in US military operations is so seamless that it is actually difficult to read a story about ongoing combat operations without hearing about the role of the military’s spiritual advisors. In a recent piece at the LA Times about the commander’s changing tactics in Afghanistan, the reporter happens to describe a Chaplain riding in an MRAP with soldiers: Read more
President Barack Obama presented the parents of Sergeant First Class Jared Monti with his posthumous Medal of Honor last Thursday. The official ceremony was attended by government officials, civilians, and military members, including the surviving members of the patrol that engaged in the firefight that took Monti’s life.
The sacrifice that SFC Monti made reflected the greatness of character that embodies the American spirit. Unfortunately, much of the coverage of Monti’s award focused on the fact that no living military member has received the Medal of Honor during the long-running wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On the other hand, it was interesting to note where very little attention was given, despite the display of allegedly controversial conduct that occurred–not once, but twice–during the ceremony. The President, members of Congress, military Generals and leaders, all on national television, were led by a uniformed officer in an overtly religious act.
It was tradition. It was fitting. It was right.
If you believe some people, though, it was also illegal. Read more
On 12 July 2007, Rajan Zed, a Hindu resident* of Nevada, delivered a mantra for the traditional daily opening prayer in the US Senate. Few Americans know his name, and fewer know what he said. What many Americans know, however, is that he was interrupted.
Objectively, three people were removed from the Senate chamber during Zed’s chant. Depending on the news source cited, the “activists,” “protesters,” “Christian patriots,” or “heroes” were arrested for “praying in Jesus’ name” or “disrupting” the Senate proceedings.
The three people openly said they were Christians, and they knew they could be arrested for what they were going to do. They also said they were “not heckling,” but hoping their prayer would be a “shield” from God’s wrath over the Hindu “idolatry” in the nation’s Capitol. James Klingenschmitt, the former Navy Chaplain, was in the Senate chamber and noted the irony of a government that would apparently suppress Christian prayer but allow that of a Hindu.
When the Hindu invitation was announced, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU)–which ordinarily vociferously opposes government-endorsed chaplains–welcomed the incident as a step toward “diversity,” not because they agreed with the concept of government-backed prayer, but because it would make “the Religious Right…go insane.” Read more