As noted at Fox News, a US Army trainee complained of religious discrimination after superiors used remarks denigrating to the Jewish faith and required him to remove his yarmulke. (As previously noted, some religious attire is authorized in uniform; in fact, the yarmulke is the only such attire specifically mentioned.)
The soldier also was the victim of assault. According to Fox News, the Army does not believe the events are connected. Michael Weinstein, however, not only believes they are, but believes that those responsible must be Christians.
[T]hese ever more frequent, tragic matters [are the result] of unbridled, military-sponsored Christian religious oppression…
Like every allegation, Weinstein said he intends to include this in his lawsuit(s).
Also noted at the Religion Clause.
A local Philadelphia newspaper covers the story of Rabbi Jon Cutler, a Jewish Navy Reserve Chaplain serving a 13-month tour in Iraq. Cutler is the head Chaplain for 23 others.
Like many Chaplains, Cutler has the benefit of civilian religious counterparts to help fulfill troops’ spiritual needs:
When Cutler came to Iraq this winter, [he] set about creating a synagogue in the base’s chapel complex. Today, that synagogue — supplied with a Torah scroll brought over from the U.S. and the ark that holds it constructed by civilian contractors — has between 10 and 15 military personnel attending Friday night services. There is a steady crowd at Saturday Torah studies and weekly Jewish movie nights. Read more
The Religion Clause links to articles that detail the case of David Tenenbaum, a civilian Army employee who was investigated for allegations of spying for Israel. Tenenbaum, an Orthodox Jew, had claimed that he was mistreated because of his religion in the course of the investigation. The Inspector General investigated as a result of a Congressional request.
Spanning back to 1992, the Inspector General’s report noted that while various officials stated that religion was a factor in the security investigation, it was “impossible” to know years after the fact whether it was “the personal practice of his faith or the intelligence community assessment that Israel might attempt to exploit any practitioner of that faith…”
Regardless, the IG stated that Tenenbaum received “unusual and unwelcome scrutiny because of his faith…[which] would undoubtedly fit a definition of discrimination.”
Casey Weinstein, son of MRFF founder Michael Weinstein, was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB with his wife while they were both on active duty. He remains in the area looking for a job as a reservist. Now, a local Jewish paper is carrying an article in which Michael Weinstein has said
Wright-Patterson Air Force base is a “hotbed” of “unconstitutional religious intolerance.”
The younger Weinstein reportedly complained about a “prayer in Jesus’ name” that was a “violation of Air Force regulations” (a conclusion which is actually incorrect). He also “got in [the] face” of his superior over an email about John Gibson’s The War on Christmas. [Casey Weinstein, a 2004 Air Force Academy graduate, was a fairly vocal supporter of his father’s accusations against the military even while the younger Weinstein was on active duty. (He also posted an interestingly accusatory comment here.)] Read more
Some who have visited ChristianFighterPilot.com have made accusations of exclusivism, favoritism, and even violation of the Constitution for mixing “church and state.” At the extreme, conspiracy theorists have accused ChristianFighterPilot.com of being bent on world domination. After all, only Christians would have the gall to so publicly mix their military service and religious faith, right?
Actually, Christians aren’t the only ones integrating their faith and their service, and others, too, have “exclusive” websites featuring their faiths. Read more
Blogs and news articles have highlighted the fact that General Norton Schwartz (official bio), the current selection to replace outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley, is Jewish. They emphasize that he is inheriting a service with “issues” involving evangelical Christians. The Forward notes that Michael Weinstein, who has sued the Defense Department for alleged Christian bias, has already asked to meet the General, even though he has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
Regrettably, the unnecessary focus on religion distracts from what many in the Air Force find more interesting: the fact that the new Chief of Staff will be the first non-fighter/bomber pilot to lead the Air Force in its history. (An official list of all Chiefs of Staff can be viewed here.)
An AF.mil article highlights the unique circumstances of a Jewish US Air Force Chaplain in Iraq. The article notes that he is the only AF Jewish Chaplain in the AOR, though a recent article at the Jerusalem Post indicates that there are four more in the US Army also deployed there.
Merry Christmas…can we say that?
Both religious and secular news sources have repeatedly reported on the perceived “war on Christmas,” in which organizations (primarily retailers) have chosen to say (or not say) Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, or some other variation on the theme. For retailers, it is a business decision, whether good or bad, in which they attempt to appease one group of consumers or another. What they do probably has an impact on their sales figures, but influences little else.
Another question revolves around what is permissible for government officials. Lawsuits and controversy have erupted over Christmas (or “holiday”) displays (like in Wisconsin). Even President Bush has been taken to task for the White House Christmas Cards that don’t mention Christmas, but do contain Old Testament Bible verses that reference the Messianic prophecy. Military Christians, then, have a confusing cornucopia of examples to look at when trying to decide what is appropriate during the Christmas season.
Is there a right answer? What can military Christians do or say? Read more