Michael “Mikey” Weinstein relies heavily on his credentials as a “former Air Force JAG.” Presumably, people outside the military ascribe to a JAG a particular expertise on military regulations and the law, and Weinstein seeks to benefit from that connotation.
When Weinstein recently demanded that the US Air Force Academy prohibit cadets from praying, it was notable that not one but two former JAGs spoke up in defense of the military religious freedom Weinstein’s “Military Religious Freedom Foundation” sought to ban.
The Alliance Defending Freedom’s Daniel Briggs wrote a letter (PDF) that became the “opposing viewpoint” that required USAFA to be “prudent and deliberate” in its review of Weinstein’s complaint. Briggs said [emphasis added]
Cadet-led prayer does not violate any purported ‘separation of church and state.’ Courts have long recognized that this term is a misrepresented and tiresome platitude found nowhere Read more
After a Navy commander’s attempt to discharge Chaplain Wes Modder was rebuffed by a Navy admiral, the Washington Times interviewed him on the follow-up. It also sought comment from two critics of religious freedom in the military: perpetually-offended atheist Jason Torpy, and frequent critic of military Christians, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein.
For his part, Torpy thought Modder should have gotten the boot, and he thinks the Navy’s reaction is “unclear”:
The Navy’s decision, he said, “leaves unclear whether it is acceptable for senior officers to use the Bible to justify belittling gay and women sailors.”
On the contrary, the “acceptability” of Torpy’s statement had nothing Read more
The US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has agreed (PDF) to hear the case of former Marine LCpl Monifa Sterling, the Marine convicted of, among other things, disobeying orders for posting Bible verses on her workstation. The court will weigh
whether the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act should shield Sterling’s defiance of a command that she remove the biblical quotes from her Camp Lejeune workplace.
“This case is important,” Sterling’s appellate attorney, Michael Berry, said Thursday, adding that it “has the potential to affect the religious freedom of millions Read more
Discussing his recent exoneration after originally facing discharge from the Navy, Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder highlighted that the fight for religious liberty is a national issue:
[Modder] suggested as more and more Christians face similar battles over their beliefs, they have to fight because the cause is crucial.
“I think it’s paramount,” he said. “I think the best thing for the Church is persecution. And I know that sounds counterintuitive, but we need to stand for religious liberty.”
“It’s not really about bakers. It’s not really about florists. It’s about Read more
While most of the story regarding US Navy Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder faded into the background with the news of his victory a few weeks ago, one media story included a quote from the Navy that seemed to indicate a bit of self-righteousness [emphasis added]:
A spokesperson for the Navy said the system in Modder’s case worked as it is supposed to, with an investigation following complaints lodged against Modder.
The Navy takes issues like this very seriously, said Lt. Jessica Anderson, public affairs officer and writer for the Chief of Naval Personnel in Arlington, Va.
“When there are allegations of misconduct like this, we investigate — as we did in this case,” Anderson said.
Part of Lt Anderson’s statement is actually fair: With some Read more
For the past six months, US Navy Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder has been fighting for his career after his commander, CAPT Jon Fahs, requested he be “detached for cause” (PDF) and then defend why he should be retained in the Navy. The primary charge was he “failed to show tolerance and respect” when he made certain statements about sexuality.
Last week, the US Navy Personnel Command informed Captain Fahs that his request for Chaplain Modder to be Detached for Cause was denied, as was his request for Modder to “show cause” to remain in the Navy. Rear Admiral David F. Steindl wrote (PDF):
Your request for detachment for cause in the case of LCDR Modder…has been reviewed and is disapproved. I have found the evidence of substandard performance in this case does not meet the standard of gross negligence or complete disregard of duty… LCDR Modder will not be detached for cause.
In other words, the Admiral said CAPT Fahs was wrong.
To be “detached for cause” (DFC) in Read more
It started with a statement by Michael Berry, a former Marine JAG and now counsel with the Liberty Institute, cited in the Washington Times regarding the prosecution of US Navy Chaplain Wes Modder:
Michael Berry…said recent high-profile cases of military chaplains facing punishment for private counseling sessions that reflected the teachings of their religion could cause devout Americans who are qualified for military service to think twice about joining the military.
That statement has now been paraphrased across the internet to say “Christians are leaving the military” or there is “an exodus of Christians from the military.” The Washington Times article itself says US military “morale [and] retention [have been] devastated.”
To be accurate, that isn’t exactly what Berry said. Further, while the current perception of the US military’s attitude toward religious freedom has certainly impacted both recruitment and retention, support for that conclusion is entirely anecdotal. As has been said here before, the plural of anecdote is not “data.”
Still, Berry’s original statement is not unreasonable. His assessment even found its way into an interview with potential Presidential Read more
A variety of media outlets continue to cover the story of Navy Chaplain (LtCmdr) Wes Modder, who was removed from his unit after complaints that he made offensive statements in counseling.
At the Daily Signal, Kelsey Harkness notes there are actually two chaplains facing sanction right now. Besides Modder, Army Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn was also punished for telling personal stories involving his faith; his story has faded somewhat from the press, but it is still ongoing.
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the only U.S. congressman to also serve as an Air Force Reserve chaplain, believes the military has gone too far in punishing Modder and others like him.
“It’s First Amendment rights for a reason,” Collins told The Daily Signal in an exclusive interview. “Not because you agree with it.”
Rep Collins went further, repeating Read more