In 2010 Jason Torpy, a former US Army Captain and current atheist, essentially lied to White House staff when he told them in an official briefing that approximately 23% of the US military was non-theistic. The briefing was one part of his crusade to justify the oxymoronic “atheist chaplain.”
The problem, as previously discussed, was that his own data didn’t support his claim — and he knew it. When presenting his data, Torpy had included as “non-theists” those who indicated “no religious preference” in their military personnel records. Of course, no one has any idea whether those who selected NRP for their records are theists or not. You would think one who represented an ideology that self-righteously proclaimed its reliance on skepticism and evidence wouldn’t rely on “myth” to promote his cause, but that’s precisely what Torpy did. He cast his net so wide, in fact, that his list of non-theists included at least one Muslim terrorist.
Torpy’s fib was outed, and the knowledge of his use of fictional data made Read more
As previously noted, the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel invited five civilian witnesses to provide testimony on the state of religious freedom in the US military last Wednesday.
- Michael Berry, Liberty Institute attorney who acted on behalf of cadets at the US Air Force Academy this year
- Retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews, an outspoken advocate for military religious freedom
- Travis Weber, Director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, US Naval Academy graduate and former Naval aviator.
- Rabbi Bruce Kahn, a retired Navy Captain and Chaplain, a founding member of the Equal Rights Center, and an advocate for homosexual “rights.”
- Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, founder and sole employee of his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, engaged in a self-described “war” against Christians in the US military.
Contrary to some predictions, it wasn’t really a contentious meeting. What the hearing did reveal was the committee members were Read more
Update: Jason Torpy, UCC endorser Stephen Boyd, and US Army Major Ryan Jean have announced their intentions to provide a briefing to Congress on the need for a humanist/atheist chaplain. Their announcement repeats the misleading fact that many in the military declare “no religious preference.”
US Rep John Fleming (R-La) again added an amendment to the annual Defense Appropriations bill that would prevent chaplains from being commissioned in the US military if they don’t have a proper endorsing agency. Because non-theists don’t have a religious endorsing agency required by military regulations, his bill has the effect of preventing atheists or humanists from becoming chaplains; Read more
In an interesting comparison on perspective, the Washington Times noted near the end of May that some were making an effort to “push [the] military for more religious liberty,” including members of Congress:
Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana Republican, criticized the military for appearing “zealous to shut down expressions of faith.”
“This is our military telling service members to raise their hands and ask permission before they dare to utter an expression of faith,” Mr. Fleming said during a speech at the Family Research Council.
Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund noted that Congress had twice passed laws requiring the US military to “be more accommodating to religious beliefs and practices,” laws Read more
Update: Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council released the following statement in response to General Welsh’s testimony [italics original]:
“The perception is that Mikey Weinstein is setting the policy for religious expression in the U.S. Air Force, as evidenced by the growing number of incidents of religious hostility toward Christians. Instead of denying reality, General Welsh should have taken the opportunity in Friday’s hearing to discuss how he would bring the Air Force into compliance with the new DOD instructions protecting religious expression…
“Family Research Council and the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition will not stand by while the Air Force Chief tries to evade the reality of these attacks on religious expression. We will continue to do all we can to protect the rights of the men and women serving in the Air Force and in all the uniformed services.”
A visibly frustrated General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, fielded questions about religious liberty during what was supposed to be a congressional committee meeting on the Fiscal Year 2015 Air Force budget:
The single biggest frustration I’ve had in this job is the perception that somehow there is religious persecution inside the United States Air Force. It is not true.
Interestingly, the words “religious persecution” were General Welsh’s characterization, not the Congressman’s.
To be fair, that statement may be technically accurate in Read more
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Congressman John Fleming (R-La) recently wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that was critical of the way the Department of Defense has implemented the religious liberty provisions of the 2014 NDAA — legislation they authored.
In short, the two say the military has focused on accommodation of religious clothing and failed to specifically address religious expression [emphasis added]: Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation believes the 2014 NDAA language requiring the US military to accommodate religious expression — not just religious belief — is “a good thing.”
Simultaneously, Weinstein’s MRFF also believes the language is “a blank check for bullies.”
Awkwardly, Weinstein and his “special research assistant” Chris Rodda issued opposing MRFF statements on precisely the same subject.
In mid-December, Rodda, speaking for Weinstein’s “charity,” said this in a little-noticed MRFF posting [emphasis added]: Read more
The Liberty Institute, the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and the Family Research Council — all members of the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition — successfully waged a campaign to have the US Army order an end to briefings which labeled mainstream Christian groups “extremist.”
As reported by Todd Starnes at FoxNews:
“On several occasions over the past few months, media accounts have highlighted instances of Army instructors supplementing programs of instruction and including information or material that is inaccurate, objectionable and otherwise inconsistent with current Army policy,” Army Sec. John McHugh wrote to military leaders in a memorandum I obtained.
McHugh “directed that Army leaders cease all briefings, command presentations or training on the subject of extremist organizations or activities until that program of instruction and training has been created and disseminated,” Army spokesman Col. David Patterson, Jr., tells me.
Multiple briefings were presented as evidence of a widespread Read more