In an unusual case that will probably generate support and criticism from all sides, former Air Force Chaplain (Capt) Jeffrey Montanari has alleged that after he converted from Christianity to Judaism (as a chaplain) he faced discrimination and mistreatment, and that he was ultimately denied a position as a Jewish chaplain as a result.
Chaplain Montanari is now represented by First Liberty in a scenario likely making critics of “fundamentalist Christianity” heads explode. As reported in the Air Force Times [emphasis added]:
Montanari…became an officer and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve in 2010, endorsed by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel…
In 2012, he transferred to a position in the California Air National Guard…
[His experiences with the local Jewish community], coupled with his discovery of his own Jewish lineage, led Montanari to begin seriously considering a conversion to Orthodox Judaism.
But that decision allegedly came at a high cost.
Superiors allegedly demeaned his character, refused to grant him a religious accommodation, segregated him from the rest of the chaplain staff, and excluded him from chaplain meetings, according to a statement from his lawyers. They effectively drove him out of the Air Force because of his change in religious affiliation, his lawyers argue.
At this point, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein would Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein currently has an opportunity to display something he rarely has to date: principle.
May 15th will be the first day of Ramadan. In honor of that Islamic holy event, a unit of the US military will wish its neighbors Ramadan blessings:
The Star Tribune reports that when [Minnesota Army National Guard] leaders hold their annual training camp next month, they will be displaying a lawn sign with the words “To Our Muslim Neighbors: Blessed Ramadan.”
Every December, Mikey Weinstein argues the presence of displays acknowledging Christmas is illegal, a loathsome constitutional violation, and generally a crime against humanity. On occasion he has said or implied he would cease his hate-filled ravings if said signage was accompanied by a host of other other/non-sectarian symbology or moved to the grounds of the base chapel.
Here’s his chance. Now he can say the same thing with Islam as the target instead of Christianity.
In an effort to show Read more
UPDATE: The Jewish Welfare Board’s Jewish Chaplains Council — which works with the military to provide support to Jewish service members — published a notice saying they would wait for the outcome of the investigation but that “Jewish services continue at Fort Campbell.”
Fort Campbell’s public affairs announced the Army post would be welcoming a new Distinctive Religious Group Leader (DRGL) for the Jewish community in May.
The volunteer position, referred to as a Distinctive Religious Group Leader, provides Friday night Shabbat services and holy day observances on post. They are certified by recognized religious organizations, and meet the religious needs of soldiers and their family members that military chaplains cannot meet, Jenkins said.
“Pending certification, Fort Campbell continues to provide a DRGL to its Jewish community,” Jenkins said.
Just a few days ago Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s complaint against Fort Campbell went public, in which his group essentially accused the Fort Campbell chaplains of anti-Semitism in the “firing” of Read more
Various news sites are reporting that Fort Campbell is looking into a complaint by a volunteer Jewish lay leader over being “fired” by the Fort’s chaplains. The Army Times provocatively implied the chaplains were accused of “dismantling on-post programs for Jewish soldiers“:
Jeanette Mize, her husband, Curt, and son, Lawrence, served as lay leaders for Jewish worship on the installation for nearly two decades. On Feb. 28, the three were allegedly fired without cause under the direction of the division chaplain, Col. John Murphy, and his deputy chaplain, Lt. Col. Sean Wead.
Some of the article contain a bit of sensationalism in what may be an effort to “explain” their roles. After all, you can’t fire or “terminate” a volunteer.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein vaunted his 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
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson has announced that Col Leland Bohannon was wrongly punished last October after he expressed religious objections to affirming homosexuality. Explaining the results of the Air Force Review Board, which had received Col Bohannon’s appeal, Secretary Wilson said (PDF) [emphasis added]
The Director concluded that Colonel Bohannon had the right to exercise his sincerely held religious beliefs and did not unlawfully discriminate when he declined to sign the certificate of appreciation for the same sex spouse of an Airman in his command.
The Air Force has a duty to treat people fairly and without discrimination… and met that duty by having a more senior officer sign the certificate.
That’s a clear win for religious liberty. The Air Force has proactively Read more
After all the stories about “firsts” with regard to female and African-American chaplains, the Georgia Army National Guard had its own first, with a chaplain who was a first in his faith:
[Paul] McCabe became the first Episcopal Chaplain the history of the Georgia Army National Guard.
On one hand, this seems Read more
The South Dakota National Guard published a press release celebrating a “historic ceremony” in which Chaplain (Capt) Kelley Thury became the SDNG’s first female chaplain:
Thury is now the chaplain for the largest battalion in the SDARNG, the 153rd Engineer Battalion.
“Having the first female chaplain is really awesome, especially in the Engineer Corps where having females in the Engineer Corps hasn’t been a long-standing policy in the U.S. military,” said Lt. Col. Trent Bruce, former 153rd commander. “Integrating females into the Engineer Corps in itself is historic, but as a chaplain as well, is amazing.”
Several units have now made “headlines” with female chaplains. But what’s more interesting about Chaplain Thury is her attitude toward her fellow chaplains.
It seems Thury is connected to the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, the homosexual Read more