In an unusual case that will probably generate support and criticism from all sides, former Air Force Chaplain (Capt) Jeffrey Montanari has alleged that after he converted from Christianity to Judaism (as a chaplain) he faced discrimination and mistreatment, and that he was ultimately denied a position as a Jewish chaplain as a result.
Chaplain Montanari is now represented by First Liberty in a scenario likely making critics of “fundamentalist Christianity” heads explode. As reported in the Air Force Times [emphasis added]:
Montanari…became an officer and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve in 2010, endorsed by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel…
In 2012, he transferred to a position in the California Air National Guard…
[His experiences with the local Jewish community], coupled with his discovery of his own Jewish lineage, led Montanari to begin seriously considering a conversion to Orthodox Judaism.
But that decision allegedly came at a high cost.
Superiors allegedly demeaned his character, refused to grant him a religious accommodation, segregated him from the rest of the chaplain staff, and excluded him from chaplain meetings, according to a statement from his lawyers. They effectively drove him out of the Air Force because of his change in religious affiliation, his lawyers argue.
At this point, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein would Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently publicized a letter (PDF) he wrote to Jeff Bezos, CEO of online shopping giant Amazon, to protest the removal of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) from the company’s charity program AmazonSmile. Weinstein titled his letter a “principled DEFENSE of RIVAL organization” (emphasis original) and said:
Frankly, we disagree with ADF’s positions on almost everything in law and policy. For years we’ve crossed swords and fought for our respective opposing views. But it is one thing to fight for ideals, and it’s another to marginalize and suppress others — even those you vehemently disagree with. And that is what’s happening when ADF is branded a “hate” group and thrown out of the Amazon Smile program.
It sounds noble, but it is very unusual for Weinstein — and wholly inconsistent Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein currently has an opportunity to display something he rarely has to date: principle.
May 15th will be the first day of Ramadan. In honor of that Islamic holy event, a unit of the US military will wish its neighbors Ramadan blessings:
The Star Tribune reports that when [Minnesota Army National Guard] leaders hold their annual training camp next month, they will be displaying a lawn sign with the words “To Our Muslim Neighbors: Blessed Ramadan.”
Every December, Mikey Weinstein argues the presence of displays acknowledging Christmas is illegal, a loathsome constitutional violation, and generally a crime against humanity. On occasion he has said or implied he would cease his hate-filled ravings if said signage was accompanied by a host of other other/non-sectarian symbology or moved to the grounds of the base chapel.
Here’s his chance. Now he can say the same thing with Islam as the target instead of Christianity.
In an effort to show Read more
While the issue of transgenders in the US military has been at a low simmer for more than a year, it continues to be a source of consternation and angst within the military itself, just as any unresolved policy matter would be. While it seems transgenders would ultimately contribute little in the form of military readiness (some public reports indicate actual transgenders in the military number in the high-two digits), the manner in which to address this demographic continues to substantially draw on senior leader time and every troops’ moral conscience.
In an apparent effort to establish their argument as one beyond Donald Trump, the LGBT community Read more
UPDATE: The Jewish Welfare Board’s Jewish Chaplains Council — which works with the military to provide support to Jewish service members — published a notice saying they would wait for the outcome of the investigation but that “Jewish services continue at Fort Campbell.”
Fort Campbell’s public affairs announced the Army post would be welcoming a new Distinctive Religious Group Leader (DRGL) for the Jewish community in May.
The volunteer position, referred to as a Distinctive Religious Group Leader, provides Friday night Shabbat services and holy day observances on post. They are certified by recognized religious organizations, and meet the religious needs of soldiers and their family members that military chaplains cannot meet, Jenkins said.
“Pending certification, Fort Campbell continues to provide a DRGL to its Jewish community,” Jenkins said.
Just a few days ago Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s complaint against Fort Campbell went public, in which his group essentially accused the Fort Campbell chaplains of anti-Semitism in the “firing” of Read more
Various news sites are reporting that Fort Campbell is looking into a complaint by a volunteer Jewish lay leader over being “fired” by the Fort’s chaplains. The Army Times provocatively implied the chaplains were accused of “dismantling on-post programs for Jewish soldiers“:
Jeanette Mize, her husband, Curt, and son, Lawrence, served as lay leaders for Jewish worship on the installation for nearly two decades. On Feb. 28, the three were allegedly fired without cause under the direction of the division chaplain, Col. John Murphy, and his deputy chaplain, Lt. Col. Sean Wead.
Some of the article contain a bit of sensationalism in what may be an effort to “explain” their roles. After all, you can’t fire or “terminate” a volunteer.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein vaunted his Read more
Update: Now widely covered at various sites, those they don’t name US Army Soldier Austin Harasti.
The Army Times reports that a Soldier at the 14th Military Police Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, has been granted a religious accommodation to wear a beard — because he is a “Norse pagan.” From Col Curtis Shroeder’s memo to the 795th Military Police Battalion Soldier [emphasis added]:
“In observance of your Heathen; Norse Pagan faith, you may wear a beard, in accordance with Army uniform and grooming standards for soldiers with approved religious accommodations.”
Interestingly, there is no tenet of “Norse pagan faith” that requires a beard, as a heathen-advocacy site pointed out. As quoted in the article:
According to the Open Halls Project, an advocacy group for heathens serving in the military, the beard is a beloved tradition, but not a requirement.
“There is no religious requirement for beards in Heathenry,” according to a 2017 post about beards. “…We, as Heathens, have no such religious requirement with regards to hair.”
In essence, this is the same as a Christian seeking a waiver for a beard because Jesus had one. That said, Army policy is to, by default, grant the accommodation so long as Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently attacked a chaplain at TARDEC (a US Army facility in Michigan) for doing exactly what Mikey Weinstein demanded.
In his press release — the only public source of this information — Weinstein said a command chaplain sent an email to everyone at TARDEC:
The email from the TARDEC Command Chaplain’s Office promoted an event entitled ‘The Passion and the Glory’…
This email was sent to all TARDEC personnel (around 8,000) with no opt-out or reply options for recipients.
It was, by Weinstein’s own admission, an email of upcoming religious services (the week preceding Easter) — an informative email wholly in keeping with the purpose of US military communications. In addition, it was handled in a way Mikey Weinstein once claimed was appropriate.
Remember, just a few years ago Weinstein was on record attacking military commanders who allowed announcements of religious issues to go out through “command” channels. Weinstein claimed Read more