This incident has been so mis-reported that it was initially just ignored; however, when General Gould published a statement agreeing that this incident has been “sensationalized,” he gave credence to the view that this situation is being grossly mischaracterized, and that people are inappropriately using it for their personal advancement. An analysis thus follows…
Despite the positive hullabaloo over the US Air Force Academy pagan circle, Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has now denounced the placement of a cross at the site, an act that occurred before the recent positive press reports. Though the incident took place several weeks ago, the MRFF appeared to time the press release to counter the recent spate of “good news” about religious tolerance at USAFA.
For the record, it should go without saying that Read more
The notoriously blunt-speaking Michael Weinstein recently demonstrated an unusually thin skin when he threatened legal action against a potential critic of his organization. The statement at issue occurred in the original ABC News article on the Trijicon gun sights:
Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions “have always been there” and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is “not Christian.”
Apparently, the MRFF is offended by that characterization, though the MRFF isn’t explicitly named and the quote itself is paraphrased. Weinstein’s organization took the unusual step of releasing its legal correspondence to an internet blogger, who quoted the following paragraph from a legal letter in response to the statement above:
Referring to the Foundation as a group which is “not Christian” is not only inaccurate and shamelessly false, but demonstrably contrary to fact. Approximately 96 percent of the Foundation’s nearly 16,000 active duty military clients and enumerable additional supporters are in fact practicing Christians by faith. To state otherwise not only slanders the Foundation, but also all of its clients. Further, the Foundation’s largest supporter is the California Council of Churches IMPACT, which is comprised of 5,500 Christian congregations, 21 distinct Christian denominations, and, directly and indirectly, millions of individual Christians.
The “legal letter” came from the same law firm that Weinstein is currently employing in Weinstein v Ammerman.
The stern rebuke from Weinstein’s MRFF is laughable. Consider the ramifications Read more
The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that Michael Weinstein has been invited to the US Air Force Academy’s 2010 National Character and Leadership Symposium occurring on February 18th and 19th. According to the article, he was invited by USAFA Superintendent LtGen Mike Gould:
[Gould] said he believes Weinstein and his organization have received a “bad rap” from some outside observers.
“He’s not anti-religious, anti-Christian or anti-anything,” Gould said. “He’s pro-respect. From my perspective, I’d like to give him the opportunity to make those points.”
Gould’s characterization of Weinstein (which is the second time he has complimented him) is perplexing. Gould himself has been the target of Jeff Sharlet, a proxy for the MRFF who has worked with MRFF researcher Chris Rodda. While Gould may feel he can take the wind from Weinstein’s sails by making him an ally, he may do so at the cost of his own credibility.
When asked to characterize his speech, a “pro-respect” speaker would have described his upcoming presentation as
“Your personal rights do not supersede the Constitutional rights of others.”
That’s a message that is fitting for such an audience. Instead, in the same Gazette article, the not “anti-Christian or anti-anything” Weinstein characterized his message this way: Read more
The Jewish Welfare Board’s Jewish Chaplains Council has organized an effort called “Torahs for Our Troops,” with the intent of providing Jewish servicemembers with the religious materials they require for their spiritual needs:
[Jewish] chaplains have asked [the] JWB Jewish Chaplains Council to provide them with small, lightweight but fully kosher Torah scrolls to accompany them from site to site, as they move around ships and the combat theater…For Jews, writing or helping to write a Torah is an important mitzvah. JWB is giving people the opportunity to fulfill this religious obligation by contributing toward the completion of these new Torahs, as well as a way to thank those men and women who serve in the armed forces…
As noted many times on this site, obtaining spiritual resources for servicemembers in theatre and around the world can be challenging, despite the seemingly constant call and supply of ‘care packages.’ The JWB/JCC move is an admirable effort to help military Chaplains provide for the needs of their troops. This not only provides moral support for our troops as they are deployed in defense of our country; it also ensures US soldiers’ rights to religious free exercise regardless of their location.
Despite the positive attempts by the JWB and Jewish Chaplains to support Jewish members of the US military, their efforts are not without potential controversy Read more
Trijicon, the maker of the gun sight that has a Bible reference on it, has volunteered to remove the references and cease marking future sights to be used by the US and foreign governments. It will also provide free kits to remove the markings from those sights that have already been deployed. The company issued a press release that was picked up by Fox, CNN, and other news organizations.
The offer to pre-empt an official call for their removal, while unexpected, is actually an excellent public relations decision both from a business and faith perspective. It avoids a “confrontation” over contracts and religious controversy, and it permits Trijicon to be viewed as both forthright and amenable to its customer, even if it does not have to be. While some Christians in similar situations may dig their heels in, there is no moral imperative that requires Trijicon to refuse to accede to the feelings of its customer. Their offer alleviates the concerns of the military and diffuses the public scandal.
For its part, the stern government reaction (as noted by General Petraeus, at least) undermines those who have claimed this was an unConstitutional collusion Read more
The latest “breaking scandal” on religion and the military is nearly laughable. In short:
- Trijicon has a well-known reputation for building high quality weapons sights.
- The US military contracted with them to buy their commercial rifle sights.
- The company includes an abbreviated Bible reference in the model name on the sight.
- ABC News reported that Michael Weinstein has called these “Jesus rifles.”
This “controversy” is so contrived as to be ridiculous. However, if you’d like to read more, what follows is a cross-section of the comments made and the reasoning (or lack thereof) behind them. Read more
A few weeks ago, the Air Force Times solicited comments from its readers after noting the “improved religious climate” at the US Air Force Academy. They asked:
What do you think? Have you found the service and its members to be tolerant of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans and others who are not Christians?
It would appear, based on the most recent Air Force Times article, that the responses were largely positive. The article is entitled “Respect healthy for different faiths,” which seems to indicate a positive environment for “different faiths” within the Air Force.
Within the article, however, the author focuses on those who take issue with Christianity in the military, rather than the ‘healthy respect’ that is apparently evident. The article begins with the presumption of truth in claims that the culture of the Air Force causes an ‘assumption’ of Christianity:
A predominance of Christians in the Air Force creates an atmosphere that assumes all airmen are Christians, allowing prayers and other religious displays at everything from football games and holiday parties to commander’s calls and change-of-command ceremonies, according to non-Christian airmen interviewed by Air Force Times.
While there is a “predominance of Christians” in the United States and in its military, the presence of prayer is not inherently a Christian endeavor, and Read more
Updated with President Obama’s proclamation.
Each year since 1993 the President has declared January 16th to be “Religious Freedom Day,” in order to remember the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (see 2009). President Obama does not appear to have issued his proclamation for tomorrow yet (now available), though the day has been a topic of discussion in varying forums across the internet.
Jefferson’s statute continues to be a strong expression for the value of religious liberty even today. Though the statute has been discussed in many places and in great depth, there are two important points to take from the statute: Read more