As part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress required the DoD Inspector General to report to Congress on the US military’s promulgation of religious liberty protections. This was presumably due to perceptions the military was being unresponsive to the wording in laws passed by Congress.
As a result of that requirement, the DoD IG released an initial report (3MB PDF) last week more notable for what it did not say than what it did. Despite specific congressional attention on “individual expressions of belief,” the IG report almost completely ignored that topic — though it admitted why [emphasis added]:
Virtually all…events in a service member’s career involve subjective, discretionary decisionmaking on the part of leaders and commanders. Identifying examples of discrimination based on conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs was unrealistic because those reasons would almost never be cited as the basis for the decision…Further, denials of promotion, schooling, training, and assignment are a subset of adverse personnel actions.
For a person who practically makes a living calling people “liars,” you’d think Chris Rodda would be more careful not to put herself in the position of being perceived as untruthful. But that’s precisely where she found herself just last week.
In a lackluster article that explained the MRFF’s objection to the “odious” missionary trip of US Air Force SMSgt Larry Gallo (discussed previously), Rodda goes after FoxNews’ Todd Starnes for his statement that George Washington would have been “thrown in the brig” for praying at Valley Forge, were he to do so today. The MRFF wouldn’t have objected to Washington’s prayer, Rodda exclaimed,
just as [the] MRFF would never object to any member of today’s military…privately engaging in any religious activity.
While “never object[ing]” is a bit less enthusiastic than “supporting” or “defending,” it is at least a non-confrontational position that acknowledges the rights of military members.
The problem is, Chris Rodda’s statement isn’t true.
On Friday it was noted here that no media outlet had covered the Air Force response to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s complaint about an article on a Christian Airman. On Sunday, Stephen Losey of the Air Force Times finally picked up the story (which led on their website), writing that the Air Force had found nothing wrong with the article and let it stand:
AFRC spokesman Philip Rhodes said the review was finished earlier [last] week, and the release will not be taken down. “We vetted the question about the story through Air Force legal and chaplain corps, and all agreed that the story is appropriate as it is displayed,” Rhodes said.
Last week, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein accused the US Air Force Reserve Command of violating the US Constitution by publishing a public affairs release about an Airman’s medical missions trip over Christmas — because it talked about the Airman’s faith in Jesus Christ. In response, the Air Force put a disclaimer on the article and assured Weinstein his complaint would be looked into.
The disclaimer has now been removed, and the article has appeared on more than one Air Force news site.
In other words, Weinstein “lost.” The Air Force (apparently) disagreed with his claim that the article “emboldens our Islamic enemies” or is a “textbook violation” of regulations.
There was no Air Force press release, no Read more
Air Force Reserve Command is reviewing a public affairs news release after Michael “Mikey” Weinstein called it
a “shameless and incredibly prominent and public promotion” of religion…
The article is not unlike many that the Air Force produces highlighting the humanitarian or other off-duty activities of its Airmen. In this case, the story is about SMSgt Larry Gallo and his family, who dedicate their Christmas each year to providing “medical and spiritual aid” in other countries:
“Seven years ago my family and I started giving up our commercial Christmases to do something different, since then, we never looked back,” Gallo said. “These trips allow everyone to slow down and realize that some of the stress we put on ourselves is uncalled for once we put things in perspective.
“We have so much in the United States, and we are blessed as a nation. There is no guilt in being blessed. The guilt comes when we complain and grumble and take for granted the things we do have and not use those blessings to help others who are burdened.”