The world waited with bated breath for Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — self-declared savior of military religious freedom — to speak on the case of Chaplain (Maj) Scott Squires. Chaplain Squires had been investigated and recommended for reprimand after he re-scheduled a Strong Bonds event just so a homosexual could attend, hosted by a different chaplain whose endorsing agency apparently is not morally opposed to homosexual “marriage.” Given the affront to his faith, and his efforts to accommodate the homosexual couple in an a different affirming event, naturally a defender of religious freedom would rally to Chaplain Squires’ side.
Noting that Chaplain Squires was following his endorsing agency’s guidance, as both the agency and the US Army requires, this was Weinstein’s response:
Our argument is [Defense Secretary Jim Mattis] ought to disqualify that particular entity as a chaplain endorsing agency.
Weinstein Read more
In what seems to be second case of Equal Opportunity offices gone wild, another US military EO office has determined that a Christian military officer is guilty of discrimination — and should be reprimanded — because of his religious beliefs about sexuality.
US Army Chaplain Scott Squires was apparently tasked to host a Strong Bonds marriage retreat — and a homosexual couple signed up. Chaplain Squires is a Southern Baptist, and his ecclesiastical endorser has said Southern Baptist chaplains can’t perform ministry that might appear to condone sexual sin. (This would be equally true for any Catholic or Muslim chaplain.) Thus, Chaplain Squires rescheduled the Strong Bonds event to a weekend in which another chaplain — one whose faith group would support a homosexual “marriage” — could host the event.
That wasn’t good enough. The Soldier complained to EO — and the EO office said the chaplain should be reprimanded [emphasis added]: Read more
Officers’ Christian Fellowship and First Liberty Institute recently participated in an episode of OCF’s fledgling Crosspoint podcast in which retired Navy JAG CAPT Chris Blake and First Liberty lawyer (and Reserve Marine JAG) Mike Berry discussed the “religious rights of those in uniform.”
At one point, CAPT Blake asks “what has changed” over the past few decades that makes it seem the support for religious freedom has waned since the unashamed exercise of faith years ago. To that, Mike Berry had a witty reply:
The opponents of religious freedom have become louder…but that doesn’t make them more correct.
That was an observation Read more
Writing in the Stars and Stripes, First Liberty attorney Mike Berry rebutted recent calls to restrict religious freedom in the US military.
Referring to last month’s appeal by the Freedom from Religion Foundation and American Atheists for Secretary of Defense James Mattis to end military prayers, Berry pointed out the errors of the groups’ demands and then said [emphasis added]
Were the DOD to give in to the groups’ demands, the harm our military would suffer would be catastrophic. Religious freedom in the military is not a luxury; it is every bit a necessity as bullets, beans and bandages. Religious freedom is a force multiplier that enables all troops — regardless of their faith, or no faith — to prepare themselves for what may be required of them in military service.
The taking of a life — or indeed, the ultimate sacrifice of one’s own life — while Read more
First Liberty Institute has sent a letter to the Air Force demanding the reversal of punitive actions taken against Col Michael Madrid for expressing his religious beliefs about sexuality.
In 2014, one of then-LtCol Madrid’s subordinates — who was in the middle of being court-martialed — accused Col Madrid of
“engaging in demeaning and derogatory behavior toward [the subordinate] based on [the subordinate’s] sexual orientation” thus “creat[ing] a hostile work environment.”
Besides the troubled circumstances of Read more
Not long after receiving a letter (PDF) from the First Liberty Institute, the New Hampshire Air National Guard at the Pease ANG Base has said they have chosen to ignore the previously reported complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
“We don’t plan on responding to the FFRF,” [Greg Heilshorn, spokesman for the New Hampshire National Guard] said. “We haven’t had any formal complaints from our airmen internally regarding any concerns with prayers being said at various ceremonies. We will continue as we’ve done before. It’s our tradition. We believe our chaplains…[are a] vital part of our organization.”
Well done. The US military is not obligated to respond to the FFRF — or any other third party complaint — at all. By declining to do so, they avoid the perception they are legitimizing the FFRF or its generalized accusations about religious expression in the US military. Meanwhile, if there are any actual complainants who have an actionable grievance, they still have access to every grievance system within the military.
Part of the issue with Read more
It’s been in the paperwork for months, but the “exciting” political environment has overshadowed the potential religious liberty fight brewing in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The House version of the NDAA contains a simple, if seemingly obtuse, statement known as the Russell Amendment (via Rep. Steve Russell, R-OK, who offered the amendment):
Any branch or agency of the Federal Government shall, with respect to any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution, or religious society that is a recipient of or offeror for a Federal Government contract, subcontract, grant, purchase order, or cooperative agreement, provide protections and exemptions consistent with sections 702(a) and 703(e)(2) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a) and 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(e)(2)) and section 103(D) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 USC 12113(D)).
The short version of the story is that in 2014 President Obama issued an Executive Order that required anyone wanting to do business with the Federal government to affirmatively state they hire without regard to “sexual orientation or gender identity.” That could very well affect a large number of contractors who do hire with regard to such issues — because they hire based on the requirements of their religious faith.
The Russell Amendment basically Read more