The US military has just updated its regulations with the intent of improving the protection of military religious freedom.
Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1300.17 was previously known as “Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services,” but is now re-titled simply “Religious Liberty in the Military Services” (PDF). The new DoDI title sets the tone for a policy that presupposes religious liberty, rather than treats it as an outlier that may sometimes be “accommodated.”
That change in tone mimics the tone change in religious liberty policies in the Air Force – which may not be a coincidence. The new DoDI was approved by Undersecretary of Defense Matthew Donovan – a former Air Force fighter pilot who has been both an Undersecretary of the Air Force and even the Acting Secretary of the Air Force in the past few years, during which the tenor (if not always the actions) of Air Force policy leaned toward religious freedom.
It seems President Trump’s selection of Undersecretary Donovan may have set the stage for improving religious liberty in the US military.
As to the DoDI itself, it notably Read more
There’s nothing “charitable” about Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s “charity” — the awkwardly named Military Religious Freedom Foundation. But, since it is categorized as 501(c)3, Weinstein must publicly file his organization’s tax form each year — though he manages to be almost two years behind. Weinstein has finally released the report for 2018 indicating his MRFF brought in about $720,000 that year, which is about the same as the previous year.
As in prior years, Weinstein’s largest expense was his own paycheck, though this year was a bit unique. Up front, he paid himself $296,393, but he also reported $72,000 in “other Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently celebrated the fact the US Marine Corps acceded to his demands in only “64 minutes” and canceled the scheduled presentation of Jay Lorenzen, a retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. The presentation was to be on the Gettysburg battlefield. Weinstein’s criticism of Lorenzen was stark, as described by his research assistant Chris Rodda:
Last night when an email came in to MRFF from a Marine Reserve JAG, reporting that 120 Marine Reserve JAGs were to be required to virtually attend a “battle-study” training of Gettysburg tomorrow led by a Jay Lorenzen, the name was very familiar to us at MRFF as a staff member of none other than Campus Crusade for Christ.
One look at the website for Lorenzen’s “High Ground at Gettysburg” training confirmed that the JAG’s concerns that this was to be a Christian proselytizing event were well founded.
Or, as Weinstein put it (in his characteristic poor grammar and ellipses flair): Read more
Though it occurred somewhat under the radar these past two weeks, new US military policies clashed with religious freedom, resulting in outside groups coming to the aid of US troops and their liberties.
Late in June, the US Navy Fleet Forces Command, which administratively oversees Naval forces based within the continental United States, issued “additional Force Health Protection guidance” regarding COVID-19 mitigation procedures. In theory, Fleet Forces Command had already declared “HPCON C minus” in late March, and the late June message was a “reiteration” or reminder of that status. However, the latest release was notable (making the local news in many places) and very specifically clarified the somewhat vague HPCON C- with detailed mandatory procedures and prohibitions – including a specific statement on religious services – even those off military installations.
As printed in the Navy message (PDF):
5.A.7.B.4. (U) SERVICE MEMBERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM VISITING, PATRONIZING, OR ENGAGING IN THE FOLLOWING OFF-INSTALLATION SPECIFIC FACILITIES, SERVICES, OR ACTIVITIES…
5.A.7.B.4.F. (U) DINE-IN RESTAURANTS (TAKE-OUT AUTHORIZED), BARS, NIGHT CLUBS, CASINOS, CONFERENCES, SPORTING EVENTS, CONCERTS, PUBLIC CELEBRATIONS, PARADES, PUBLIC BEACHES, AMUSEMENT PARKS OR OTHER EVENTS DESIGNED TO PROMOTE LARGE GATHERINGS, TO INCLUDE INDOOR RELIGIOUS SERVICES.
While seemingly Read more
Chris Rodda has long been a “creative” writer, despite her sometimes claim to be an apparent amateur historian. While she has been quick to call out the errors of others with whom she disagrees, she ignores the errors of those who are on her side. She has also published a bevy of, to put it nicely, misleading writings. For someone so quick to call others “liars,” she has a very unique view of the truth.
With that in mind, Rodda published a blog yesterday with an attention-grabbing title:
National Defense Authorization Act to Include Military Training on How to Force Religion on Others.
Like much of what she writes, though, her title wasn’t true. (Most obviously, the NDAA hasn’t left either side of Congress yet, much less gone through conference committee or to the President. In other words, the NDAA doesn’t “include” anything yet.)
The short version of a long, meandering blog (Rodda has never been one for being succinct), is that Rodda is upset about Senate bill 4049, which was introduced in the Senate only a couple of weeks ago. Within it, the Senate requires the US military to conduct training on “Religious Accommodation” that must include:
- Federal statutes, DoD Instructions, Service regulations regarding religious liberty and accommodation for members of the Armed Forces
- The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
- Section 533 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
- Section 528 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016
Of that content, Rodda takes issue only with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The RFRA is fairly short, and it says the government cannot “substantially burden” exercise of religion, with some Read more
Last month, despite the lack of any pronouncement from their Commander-in-Chief, a few US military facilities continued the Obama-era tradition of celebrating the sexual behaviors of a few of their service members.
At Yokosuka, the US Navy held a socially-distanced Pride cake cutting, attended by about 10 people, including the facility’s commander, Navy Capt Rich Garrett.
Naval Warfare Center Dahlgren celebrated Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley in an in-depth personal profile, noting he
volunteers…in the Hampton Roads LGBTQ+ community by performing as the drag queen, Harpy Daniels.
March Air Reserve Base noted the “evangelistic” message of Marvin Tucker, who Read more
With politics, COVID-19, and racial tensions enrapturing the US public these past few months, there’s been little to discuss in the realm of military religious freedom. There has been little public movement in the case of the Manchester VA and the POW Bible. The decision to censor US Army chaplains, while significant, has quickly fallen out of the public view. (The conversation continues at higher levels, where there may yet be a coming resolution.)
As a result, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein – with a self-described “laser like” focus on religion in the US military – has had to find something else to talk about.
It started with a Weinstein complaint about headstones in a VA cemetery in San Antonio, TX, where German POWs from World War II are buried. It seems many Read more
On Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) sent a letter (press release, PDF) to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper highlighting the US Army’s kowtowing to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s demands to restrict religious liberty in the Armed Forces. Some of the language may seem very similar to what was written on this site the same day [emphasis added]:
The [MRFF] has been waging a campaign against the chaplaincy, and frankly, against religious freedom in the military generally. In response, the Army has censored chaplains’ religious speech based on the flawed and arbitrary notion that military chaplains may not carry out their official duties outside of a religious ceremony that occurs within the four walls of a chapel.
As with other members of Congress in the recent past, Cruz reminded Read more