The 66th Rescue Squadron maintains a memorial in the Nevada desert to two HH-60G Pavehawk helicopters, Jolly 38 and Jolly 39, which collided in 1998 and killed all 12 men onboard.
Lt. Col. Joshua Shonkwiler, 66th Rescue Squadron commander, regards a memorial built for fallen members of the 66th RQS August 29, 2018 on the Nevada Test and Training Range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Bailee A. Darbasie)
Don’t tell Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, or he’ll demand they tear that cross out of the desert.
Then again, there are Read more
A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion. Militantly secular regimes have carried out such projects in the past…
– Justice Samuel Alito
Yesterday the US Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision that the Bladensburg Peace Cross could continue to stand and be maintained by the state — even though it was “undoubtedly a Christian symbol.” (Of note, the case was reversed and remanded “for further proceedings,” not simply dismissed.)
Some reports focused on the multiple opinions published by the justices, though these reports largely seemed to come from critics who believed that emphasizing the “splintered” nature of the ruling would Read more
The Sacramento Bee reported that the local community of Cathedral City, California, dedicated the nation’s first “LGBTQ Veterans Memorial” at the end of April:
“It’s kind of a holy place. This is a place to pray for people who died in wars,” Tom Swann Hernandez of Cathedral City told The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday. The gay Marine veteran has been at the forefront of the state designation effort for nearly two decades.
This was the ceremonial designation; the legal designation was noted here last fall.
The short version is if you Read more
More than 100 members of Congress filed an amicus brief supporting the Bladensburg cross, a “Peace Cross” that was erected after World War I to honor local war dead. The memorial was initially found to be permissible, but the Fourth Circuit court of appeals overturned that ruling, declaring it a violation of the US Constitution. The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court — which, to date, has not explicitly ruled on the long-running war on war memorials with religious iconography: Read more
Just as in the past couple of years, issues of military religious freedom have generally been incorporated in larger societal issues in most groups’ “top ten” civil/religious liberty issues for the year.
For example, Howard Friedman at the Religion Clause noted the “transgender rights” stories at #3 without specifically mentioning the (substantial) military side to that story. That said, at #6 he included the “battle over religious displays” and specifically included “Latin crosses as part of veterans’ memorials”.
The Baptist Joint Committee, a politically left-leaning group, included the controversy over the Russell Amendment to the 2017 NDAA at #6. (The BJC opposed the proposed legislation.)
Some other notable but unmentioned events from the year include lawsuits filed and exemptions granted for Sikhs in the military, the national discussion over Bible verses posted by court-martialed Marine LCpl Monifa Sterling, or the Air Force reconsidering its policies after retired Air Force SMSgt Oscar Rodriguez was thrown out of a ceremony while reciting a religiously-tinged flag-folding script.
With that in mind, the most read articles from 2016 on ChristianFighterPilot.com Read more
The American Humanist Association’s bid to have the Bladensburg Peace Cross war memorial torn down (or its cross member sawn off) continued this month with oral arguments at the Fourth Circuit court of appeals. The AHA lost their case last year and appealed in December 2015.
The First Liberty Institute, which is defending the cross, accurately Read more
The Town of New Windsor, New York, has been threatened over a war memorial which contains the words “To Those Who Served Both God and Country“:
Town Attorney Michael Blythe said the lawyer, Martin Karlinsky, sent the town two letters, suggesting that the wording on the memorial, invoking the word “God,” runs counter to the First Amendment clause that draws a strict separation between government and religion. Blythe said there was a “veiled threat” of a lawsuit.
Apparently unmoved, Town Supervisor George Green had a pithy response to the threat: Read more
US Army paratroopers recently visited The Hill of Crosses during a six-month deployment to Lithuania:
Members of Able Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade…
…were visiting the Hill of Crosses; a monument to the strength, pride and resolve of the Lithuanian people and everyone who has been repressed by tyranny.
Interestingly, the Hill of Crosses began as a war memorial, and it has Read more