As has now been widely reported, US Army SPC Cesilia Valdovinos — who converted to Islam in March 2016 — has claimed discrimination over her wear of the hijab, for which she was granted a religious accommodation just last summer. According to Valdovinos, a senior enlisted leader required her to remove her hijab to prove her hair was being correctly worn underneath it. (While the accommodation was granted, she is still required to maintain certain standards, even under the hijab.) The reason for the “inspection” was the belief her hair was not properly maintained while under her hijab, as was required. When she removed the hijab, her hair was, indeed, down — though Valdovinos says it was because it was held up by the hijab itself. Valdovinos apparently found this exchange inappropriate and filed an EO complaint.
There are aspects to this story on both sides that Read more
The US Air Force’s Air Combat Command summarily rebuffed Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s complaint that it had “compromis[ed] the integrity of its solemn oath” and violated the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution.
Because of a poster.
As reported by the Air Force Times:
A pair of posters that focus on the importance of faith, which have been on display at Air Combat Command headquarters at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, for years, will not be altered — despite recent complaints about them — according to command officials.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation had contacted the base about removing the posters after complaints from the Langley community.
Weinstein apparently waited for a slow news day to reveal his loss to the Air Force, given that he was initially contacted by the “client” nearly two weeks ago and he normally revels in the Air Force’s immediate reaction.
The Air Force seemed unmoved [emphasis added]: Read more
A week ago, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein complained to US Navy CAPT Douglas Pfeifle that he was “essentially spiritually raping” his recruits after civilian chapel volunteers were summarily banned from the base earlier this month. CAPT Pfeifle replied to Weinstein the next day, saying he’d get back to him. A week later, with no response, Weinstein attempted to up the ante by having an actual lawyer write a letter to CAPT Pfeifle, claiming there was a “constitutional question” with the Recruit Training Command’s action [emphasis added]:
There is a constitutional question whether denying similarly situated individuals under your command substantially similar rights to exercise religious freedoms violates the right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
You don’t even have to crack out your high school American government books to see the error from Weinstein’s presumably high-brow lawyer. The Fifth Amendment contains important protections of citizens’ rights, but it has nothing to do with “equal protection.” That’s the Fourteenth Amendment.
The writer is Mr. Robert Eye of Kauffman-Eye, who Read more
Last year Michael “Mikey” Weinstein threatened to sue the US Army because it exposed a group of Soldiers to a chaplain’s prayer, which the chaplain closed with
through Your holy name…
In response, Weinstein demanded the chaplain be disciplined and the Soldiers be given an apology. Weinstein threatened an “aggressive” Federal lawsuit (as opposed to a benign lawsuit, apparently) if the Army refused his demands.
To be clear, Weinstein was willing to sue because a chaplain said “through Your holy name” during a prayer to a group of Soldiers in an auditorium.
Based on events just this week, will Weinstein threaten to sue again?
On Monday, US Army Chief of Chaplains (MajGen) Donald Rutherford prayed in uniform and on national television — and, shockingly, closed with…”in Your holy name.” Just Read more
In Michael Weinstein’s world, those who support him are his friends, and those who oppose him are his enemies. So it was with great joy that he publicized articles by his “new friend” Drew Miller, writing at PolicyMic — a ‘fan based’ site that highlights articles based on the controversy they create.
Miller wrote a series of three articles that essentially repeat, without critical thought, Michael Weinstein’s talking points. He opens with the calm, balanced statement that Christians are trying to take over the military:
The underlying sentiment — that the military consists solely of believers, should be run as a Christian organization, and should seek to impose spiritual standards on its soldiers — is one of the most destructive threats to the efficacy of our military…
He even revived the story of Jeremy Hall, Read more
Chalker v Gates, the lawsuit which pitted the MRFF and an atheist Soldier against the Department of Defense, has been dismissed. The case was brought by Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and US Army Specialist Dustin Chalker. The primary complaint was that Chalker was forced to attend formations at which Christian prayers were given, though Weinstein used the lawsuit as a forum to accuse the military of promoting Christianity.
According to various reports,
US District Judge Kathryn Vratil ruled Thursday that Chalker failed to exhaust all available remedies before filing suit.
Weinstein has said he will appeal the decision.
The ruling that dismissed the lawsuit (pdf) is slightly more complex than the media summary. The ruling stated: Read more
According to a variety of press reports, Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has withdrawn its lawsuit filed on behalf of Jeremy Hall against the Department of Defense. The decision comes after months of delays in the MRFF’s deadline (and days prior to the current one) to file a response to the military’s motion to dismiss.
Some reports have implied that the decision was based on Hall’s plan to leave the Army next year; however, since the lawsuit was announced last year Hall has widely reported that he planned to leave the Army. The decision to abandon the case now is inconsistent with Weinstein’s frequent comments in support of it, including a recent assertion that a post-lawsuit IG visit would bolster the case.
The more likely cause Read more
Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has asked for two delays in the required timeline to file a response to the DoJ’s motion to dismiss the MRFF’s ongoing lawsuit. Reasons for the requests included the “number of pages” of supporting material in the DoJ motion, and the requests have been unopposed by the DoJ.
It appears, though, that the law firm representing the MRFF actually had other work keeping them busy: they have now filed a second lawsuit (text). Like the first, it takes a single “issue” (in this case, the requirement that soldiers attend events in which sectarian prayers are delivered) and lumps in every possible accusation against religion in the military. Much of the lawsuit is verbatim from other filings.
For example, it once again includes unspecified accusations against Officers’ Christian Fellowship. It also includes references to the Ft Wood “Free Day Away,” which, as noted, has already been investigated by the Inspector General and found to be in compliance with regulations. It also still includes complaints about the 523rd Fighter Squadron, which no longer exists, and hasn’t for some time.
Unlike the first lawsuit, it does say that the primary plaintiff, Specialist Dustin Chalker, sought permission Read more