The following account is provided anonymously, and certain details have been intentionally obscured to protect the identities of those involved.
I walked out of a church service last Sunday.
It wasn’t because I had a crying child or a vibrating cellphone. It was because when the singing stopped, the pastor who stood up in front of the congregation to deliver the sermon represented religious beliefs I disagreed with.
Now why, you might ask, was I even at a church whose pastor didn’t hold the same beliefs as me?
Easy: I’m in the US military.
Unfortunately, we don’t always have the luxury of “choosing” our church. Other times, we might choose the chapel on the post, yet watch as the pastor — the chaplain — changes from one year (or even one Sunday) to the next. And every service member will go through the process of moving, which means a new “job,” a new home, and a new church — every couple of years.
The way some people seem to tell the story, the military is being run (or overrun) Read more
In an interesting piece at Military.com, US Navy PO2 Guldeep “Geena” Kaur Sidhu describes what it’s like to be a Sikh woman serving in the US military, noting:
In today’s politically charged and increasingly globalized world, it’s more important than ever to be open to the beliefs and cultures of those around you.
Kaur notes there is virtue in promoting and highlighting religious liberty and the values of religious belief:
I believe that it will lead us to greater unity. By better understanding the identities of our brothers and sisters in arms, we can become closer as a unified force. I hope that the changes brought about by this new directive will serve to educate my fellow service members on the Sikh religion, and how closely it aligns with the American values we’re fighting for day in and day out.
As has been noted in the past, there has been Read more
Hemant Mehta recently stumbled all over himself trying to say that the Southern Poverty Law Center’s designation of “hate groups” is fine when it comes to Christians, but not when it comes to atheists (something he first tried to do last November).
Just a few days ago Mehta defended the SPLC when Guidestar, a charity review site, began including the SPLC’s ‘opinion’ on charities it claims are “hate groups”. Within the conversation, Mehta appropriated the SPLC’s “hate group” designation for some Christian groups. When those groups complained they were being targeted for their beliefs, Mehta said “that’s a lie” and celebrated the idea they would lose charitable donations for the designation. (Guidestar subsequently dropped the categorization under pressure.)
Then, the news broke that Maajid Nawaz is suing the SPLC. He’s a former Read more
Every now and then someone critiques the idea of there being a “Christian Fighter Pilot.” For some (generally non-Christians), it is the perceived “oxymoron” of being a follower of Christ while simultaneously being a military combatant. Many who are trying to find something to gripe about critique the idea that there needs to be a “descriptor” to discriminate about types of fighter pilots. Why not just be fighter pilots?
In fairness, though, Christians haven’t been the only ones to “celebrate” their contribution to the military mission — or even being a fighter pilot. For example, a few years ago, the Atheist Fighter Pilot made a short-lived showing here, and religious groups and organizations have sprung up for a variety of faiths.
Apparently, pilots can be known for their faith, their lack of faith…
…and how they like to have sex.
This past weekend, one of the participants in the Capital Pride Read more
Critics have come out in force against US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) after he said he would not support President Trump’s nominee for the deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought. Sanders’ reason? Vought has Christian beliefs, which he expressed in a column defending Wheaton College in 2016 in which he said that “Muslims stand condemned”:
Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.
In his questioning during the confirmation hearing for Vought’s nomination to the OMB, Sanders asked:
Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned? Is that your view?
…I don’t know how many Muslims there are in America. Maybe a couple million. Are you suggesting that these people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?
In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?
I would simply say, Mr. Chairman that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.
Atheists, liberals, and Christians alike have condemned Read more
As previously announced, on May 23rd Chaplain (LtCol) Khallid Shabazz took over as the Division Chaplain for the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis McChord:
Shabazz…became the Army’s first Islamic chaplain at the division level at a Change of Stole ceremony…officiated by Maj. Gen. Thomas James Jr., 7th Infantry Division commanding general.
The “changing of the stole” appears to be strictly a US Army chaplaincy tradition, as Read more
An unnamed Air Force chaplain sent a formally formatted complaint to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein in early May, claiming the National Guard Bureau had established “Protestant Christianity” as the “official religion” of the Guard’s Strong Bonds program.
As if to reinforce the fact the letter was written specifically for public consumption, just a few hours after receiving it Weinstein sent off his “demand” letter to General Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau. Weinstein made no new allegations but asserted those of the chaplain, who had complained about a line from a National Guard MOI on Strong Bonds. Regarding Strong Bonds events, the official Memorandum of Instruction said
One voluntary worship service will be conducted at all overnight training sessions, serving to the extent possible, the largest religious demographic represented in accordance with the Constitutional mandate to provide for the “free exercise of religion”. (See “DODI 1300.17”; “AFI 52-101”).
Military regulations can sometimes be ambiguous, vague, and even self-contradictory, so it is understandable that even well-meaning or intelligent members of the military might misunderstand them.
But even graciously speaking, that’s not what happened Read more
Yesterday Michael “Mikey” Weinstein was covered by Newsweek in an article entitled “Trump Effect Inspires Radical Christians in Military” (warning for ad-heavy site).
The article began [emphasis added]:
Donald Trump’s election has led to such a steep rise in fundamentalist Christian evangelizing and religious bigotry in the US armed forces that the matter is reaching the level of a “national security threat…”
The allegation that Donald Trump has inspired “evangelizing and religious bigotry” in the military is a serious charge — one which “award-winning” columnist Nina Burleigh utterly fails to support with any evidence. What follows in her article is a rah-rah fluff piece that does little more than parrot the words of Mikey Weinstein as if Weinstein himself is preaching the gospel. Burleigh dispenses with “anonymous sources” and simply has one: Mikey Weinstein.
In an apparent effort to bolster her claim — or perhaps sensationalize it — Burleigh cites an exhaustive list of “charges” against the military as a result of Trump’s election, which she seems Read more