A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion. Militantly secular regimes have carried out such projects in the past…
– Justice Samuel Alito
Yesterday the US Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision that the Bladensburg Peace Cross could continue to stand and be maintained by the state — even though it was “undoubtedly a Christian symbol.” (Of note, the case was reversed and remanded “for further proceedings,” not simply dismissed.)
Some reports focused on the multiple opinions published by the justices, though these reports largely seemed to come from critics who believed that emphasizing the “splintered” nature of the ruling would Read more
In early November Jason Torpy posted a profile on Jared Anderson, a man who presents himself as a chaplain endorsed by the Humanist Society. A former Mormon (Latter Day Saint) — or a current LDS who doesn’t follow LDS theology, depending on how you look at it — Anderson advocates “religious humanism.”
The nice thing about the United States of America is you can call yourself whatever you want. However, that does not mean you get to do whatever you want, nor that the government or society are required to support your choice (gender and pronouns notwithstanding, apparently).
That’s something Anderson apparently doesn’t understand, as he claims he wants to be a military chaplain (and the US military doesn’t have non-religious religious leaders) [emphasis added]: Read more
A study entitled “Death, Trauma and God: The Effect of Military Deployments on Religiosity” was covered at the Economist, in which the authors noted
According to a working paper published this week by Resul Cesur, Travis Freidman and Joseph Sabia, a trio of economists in America, there is some truth to the adage that there are no atheists in foxholes. Or rather, wartime trauma often makes people turn to God.
The article refers to two different analyses conducted in the study, in which
They find compelling evidence that those who have served in combat zones and directly engaged the enemy are more likely to attend religious services regularly than are those who have not.
There is some degree of Read more
Update: In an interesting take, Patrick Hornbeck, a department chair of theology at Fordham University and an open homosexual, admitted that Chaplain Squires was “mistreated,” but attributed it to the natural consequences of “bureacracy” and a “well-meaning if somewhat confused investigator.”
The world waited with bated breath for Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — self-declared savior of military religious freedom — to speak on the case of Chaplain (Maj) Scott Squires. Chaplain Squires had been investigated and recommended for reprimand after he re-scheduled a Strong Bonds event just so a homosexual could attend, hosted by a different chaplain whose endorsing agency apparently is not morally opposed to homosexual “marriage.” Given the affront to his faith, and his efforts to accommodate the homosexual couple in an a different affirming event, naturally a defender of religious freedom would rally to Chaplain Squires’ side.
Noting that Chaplain Squires was following his endorsing agency’s guidance, as both the agency and the US Army requires, this was Weinstein’s response:
Our argument is [Defense Secretary Jim Mattis] ought to disqualify that particular entity as a chaplain endorsing agency.
Weinstein Read more
Army Specialist Samuel Keenan of the Massachusetts National Guard recently wrote an article out of Hanscom AFB entitled “Getting in the foxhole: how chaplains serve nonreligious service members” — apparently a subtle play on the “no atheists in a foxhole” phrase.
In short, the article uses the example of Guard Air Force Chaplain (Capt) Derek White to show that chaplains serve everyone, even those without a religious faith:
“It doesn’t matter if they’re religious or if they have no religious preference,” said White. “The fact that I am the person that they feel they can share their life with… that’s a really great feeling…”
“Regardless of religious preference, or non-preference, everybody hits a wall with human limits,” said White. “Chaplains provide hope that the wall is not an obstacle that cannot be overcome.”
That’s a valid discussion — even if the “non-religious” issue feels somewhat forced to the exclusion of everything else. Based on the article, it seems Keenan, more than Chaplain White, focused on the non-religious aspect. There’s no clear reason why.
Unfortunately, Keenan relied on an “interesting” source for part of his article: 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
The Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial in Rockdale County, Georgia, was vandalized in December. A plaque, two statues, and the globe they held, all made from bronze, were ripped from the site. Three people have been arrested.
At this point, there’s no immediate indication the vandalism was connected to the nationwide purge of “racially offensive” monuments. One source estimated the cost of repairs at more than $200,000.
Another question, however, is whether the monument, repaired or not, will survive the newfound fury of atheists.
Atheist Jason Torpy and others like him have been on a crusade Read more
In a widely reported incident, US Air Force Academy Superintendent LtGen Jay “Tonto”* Silveria took to the staff tower at the cadet dining hall (Mitchell Hall) to tell USAFA cadets that racial slurs had been written on message boards at the nearby Academy Preparatory School, essentially a junior college for those who will eventually join the Air Force Academy.
In a five minute speech in which he notes hundreds of staff and faculty are lining the walls, LtGen Silveria eventually boiled it down to a simple statement:
If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.
Then he walked away.
That’s a call with which anyone can agree. Treating a Read more