As noted at the Religion Clause, the 3rd Circuit Court ruled that a group of Navy Chaplains lacked standing to sue over the alleged preferential treatment of Catholic Chaplains in the Navy. The court did not rule on the merits of the case, and one judge dissented.
The decision is interesting in its relation to the ongoing lawsuit against the Defense Department brought by Jeremy Hall and the MRFF. The government has alleged that Hall (and thus the MRFF) also lacks standing for similar reasons listed by the 3rd Circuit.
As the Supreme Court has often stated, mere personal offense to government action does not give rise to standing to sue. Read more
In what appears to be an ongoing interview, the 25th Infantry Division Chaplain, Lt Col Tom Wheatley (who was previously quoted here), has stated that he has seen no evidence that military leaders have participated in the actions alleged by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Michael Weinstein.
The Chaplain did state he had seen it occur “from fellow soldiers,” when a “Christian…might give a fellow soldier a hard time who professes to be atheist or maybe a different faith group.” While not sanctioned by the military, such actions are explicitly permitted under Constitutional protections, insomuch as they are within the bounds of regulations regarding good order and discipline.
Casey Weinstein, son of MRFF founder Michael Weinstein, was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB with his wife while they were both on active duty. He remains in the area looking for a job as a reservist. Now, a local Jewish paper is carrying an article in which Michael Weinstein has said
Wright-Patterson Air Force base is a “hotbed” of “unconstitutional religious intolerance.”
The younger Weinstein reportedly complained about a “prayer in Jesus’ name” that was a “violation of Air Force regulations” (a conclusion which is actually incorrect). He also “got in [the] face” of his superior over an email about John Gibson’s The War on Christmas. [Casey Weinstein, a 2004 Air Force Academy graduate, was a fairly vocal supporter of his father’s accusations against the military even while the younger Weinstein was on active duty. (He also posted an interestingly accusatory comment here.)] Read more
CNN’s AC360 blog updates yesterday’s story with information on the government’s move to dismiss the suit. In a commentary that unapologetically sides with Specialist Hall, CNN’s Randi Kaye notes that Hall, an atheist,
…isn’t seeking money, just religious freedom…
Kaye then expresses shock that the defendant would have the gall to ask for the suit to be dismissed:
[T]he U.S. Government, the very government Hall agreed to serve and risk his life for, wants his lawsuit tossed out.
The only response included in the commentary is Hall’s admission that much of the premise of the government’s motion to dismiss is correct: he did not use any of the in-place military processes to address his griveances, because “nothing ever gets done.”
In a fairly well written argument, the government has filed a motion to dismiss the ongoing lawsuit against the Defense Department brought by Army Specialist Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. (The response was due, and filed, on the 8th.) Salient points are below (emphasis added), though many were previously already talked about here.
The short version: he failed to use the systems in place to seek redress; the solutions he requests are already in place; and he does not allege harm by any “institutional bias” for which the only support is a list of vague references.
On the request that Secretary of Defense Gates be required to prevent Constitutional violations by his military subordinates:
Secretary Gates already exercises his authority to prevent constitutional violations through the Army’s existing Equal Opportunity Program — which Specialist Hall failed to invoke…
It is a fairly common (though sometimes socially unacceptable) practice for internet users who post on forums to add to their own post in order to make its posting date more recent. This has the effect of “bumping” it to the forefront, where people actually see it, even though there is nothing new to the topic.
CNN has apparently taken on the practice, as they have chosen to headline an essential repeat of their April 28th story on Jeremy Hall’s MRFF lawsuit.
One possible reason for the repeat may be in the source. Read more
The Kansas City Star, which has increasingly become an outlet for press releases from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, noted that Weinstein’s MRFF has complained of a broadcast by the Trinity Broadcasting Network that contains military content. The 2-hour video, the “Red, White and Blue Spectacular” hosted by Christian music singer Carman, was filmed in 2003 and rebroadcast in 2005 as a military-focused independence celebration. The video is scheduled to be rebroadcast this year.
The primary complaint was an interview with then-Major General Van Antwerp, who was also then-President of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Carman was also given a tour of an Aegis cruiser and an interview with the uniformed Pentagon Chaplain.
Weinstein, who calls this a “repeat” of the “putrescent disgrace” of the Christian Embassy filming Read more
As noted at the ADF, the AP has reported that an Army Private contacted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation after the Army autopsied his deceased infant son. The Private indicated that he was Muslim and objected to the autopsy on religious grounds. Reports indicate that the MRFF plans to include this, as everything else, in their ongoing lawsuit.
While the situation is regrettable, it is not isolated to this military case or this religion. Many government offices perform autopsies over the religious objections of the family, and the courts have apparently supported their ability to do so–particularly when the cause of death is suspect, as it was in this case. It is not, then, a case of military “anti-Islamic prejudice and bigotry,” as Michael Weinstein asserts.
It is also worth noting that the religious opposition to autopsy is equally valid in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths. There is no objection to the practice in their core doctrines, though “interpretation” in each could lead to the conclusion.