The Washington Post has an interesting article on a Muslim American Soldier who is engaged in “battles on friendly ground.” The article is essentially a superficial re-telling of US Army Spc Zachari Klawonn’s story, even to the point of being dismissive toward two other Muslim Soldiers (Capt. Rhana Kurdi and Sgt. Fahad Kamal) who gave statements supportive of the Army with regard to their faith.
According to the article, Klawonn has filed “complaint after complaint with his commanders.” (It is unclear if this is inclusive of the “20 complaints” he has filed with the equal opportunity office.) He believes he has mild depression and has seen a psychologist a half dozen times since joining the Army. When he enlisted, he was “grilled” by those at his mosque who wanted to know how he could kill Muslims, which was “forbidden.”
Klawonn was allegedly told by superiors that he needed to be careful, because he fit the same profile as Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan–a Muslim soldier disgruntled with the Army, complete with a psychological history and close associates who seem to believe his military service is incompatible with Islam. While Klawonn may have been understandably Read more
Katie Drummond writes an article for AOL News that is essentially a fluff piece on the advocacy of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, as virtually every example in the article is an MRFF talking point.
The most recent “issue” is the participation of military base Chaplains with Focus on the Family, which has reportedly simulcast various resources, including its landmark Truth Project, to military bases. (Drummond calls FotF’s relationship with the military “lucrative,” without explaining the basis for her belief of financial involvement.) When explaining his opinion that these “voluntary” religious events aren’t really voluntary, Michael Weinstein Read more
When criticizing para-church organizations that ministered to servicemembers, MRFF creator Michael Weinstein used to cite the number of US military bases around the globe, as if the number somehow made the existence of the organizations more insidious. But as someone very recently said, the presence of groups of religious adherents at military bases arises from a far more basic human need: fellowship.
“If there’s one thing church groups get right is fellowship [sic],” Johnson said. “Everyone wants to be around people who are like them.”
The person quoted is supporting the existence of such groups, but she isn’t at all religious. She is Kathleen Johnson, founder of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and currently Vice President and Military Director of American Atheists. She is reportedly a former Army first sergeant, retired after 21 years of service. (Her organizational profile pictures continue to show her in a military Read more
The US District Court for southern California ruled in late February (pdf) that a school district erred when it demanded that a teacher remove banners from his room due to their “Judeo-Christian” and “particular sectarian viewpoint.” The banners contained quotes from American founding documents and mottos that made reference to God.
While the academic environment of the case may not seem relevant to Christianity in the military, realize that the school district (and occasionally the teacher) was treated as a government actor, as the military is (and often military members are). The government’s treatment of religion in this case, and the court’s response, was extremely enlightening.
The most interesting part of the case was the fact that while the school district said that the presence of the banners might raise concerns under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, the court ultimately ruled that the school district’s actions actually violated the Establishment Clause. The reason was simple: Read more
US Army Chaplain (Maj) Julian Padgett served the men and women of Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq, in late 2009. In his proactive efforts to minister to those on Marez, he reportedly “made the rounds along the base perimeter to comfort troops and offer prayers,” as shown in this picture dated in September 2009:
(DoD Photo, PO1 Carmichael Yepez)
An important detail is that Chaplain Padgett ministered to all the men and women on Marez supporting the US mission, including the pictured security guard, a third country national (TCN) from Uganda with whom he shared Read more
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has, again, filed a complaint with the IRS asserting that Liberty University is misusing its status as a tax-exempt (501(c)3) organization. The original complaint can be read here.
For its part, Liberty barely addressed the merits of the complaint, instead saying that this was simply another attempt by the AU to intimidate Liberty. In fact, Mat Staver, the Liberty School of Law dean, said the school was considering legal action in response to the AU’s attempt to intimidate Liberty students:
“We’re now looking at whether we are going to respond by filing some kind of civil action against Americans United — because what they’re trying to do is essentially intimidate Liberty University, particularly the students, from exercising their constitutional right to vote,” he argues. “We’re not about to allow this organization to do that to Liberty University students.”
As noted in the discussion last year when AU filed a complaint against Liberty, the AU is frequently associated with criticisms of Christians in the military. It remains a “partnering link” on the MRFF page, and Michael Weinstein has claimed AU membership at one point.
According to the Advocate, a homosexual advocacy publication, Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation is on a new crusade: supporting the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Comically, Weinstein, who has been taken to task for his displays of Constitutional ignorance, again displays his lack of knowledge with regard to the ongoing controversy. The Advocate asked him…twice…what power the President had to repeal the policy on homosexuals in the military. Twice, the former White House counsel talked vaguely about executive orders without explaining how an executive order can overturn a law passed by Congress (Title 10, Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 37, § 654). (Answer: it can’t.)
When asked about who the MRFF is “fighting,” Weinstein again displayed his tendency to make up his own definitions of religious groups–and then to assign people to them as he saw fit.
We’ve got this fanatical religiosity in fundamental Christianity… Read more
A previous article noted that Michael Weinstein likes to highlight the places that his Military Religious Freedom Foundation was mentioned in the press. One result of his “tooting his own horn” may be the perception of “impact” from his organization. Apparently, his desire to seem influential is so strong that he has digressed into fiction.
In a long article published at an independent “online magazine,” Weinstein Read more