Michael Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation have routinely called for court martial, punishment, and have even implied harm against military members publicly associated with expressions of religious thought. Weinstein has reserved particular vitriol for senior officers, including the Chief Chaplains of both the Army and Air Force, the Secretary of the Army, the members (and Chairman) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, military academy leadership, and others. His intent appears to be to silence or exclude Christians by changing military policy and public opinion where he can, and intimidation using public excoriation where he cannot.
It is likely that the MRFF’s criticisms of military leadership will continue. They have already leveled criticism at the Obama administration’s selection for the new Secretary of the Army, New York Republican Congressman John McHugh.
Michael Weinstein called McHugh “suboptimal” Read more
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then, I said, Here am I; Send me.” – Isaiah 6:8
From a recent article by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s researcher:
[This] Bible verse…was the theme of Secretary of the Army Pete Geren’s commencement address at West Point last year. Geren opened and closed his speech by quoting the verse, and, throughout his speech, painted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a religious struggle.
The entire text of Geren’s commencement speech, given to the US Military Academy in 2008, is available online. He mentions a religious topic four times, none as conspiratorial as the MRFF asserts. Each citation follows: Read more
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS claiming that Liberty University was violating the federal tax code (as a tax-exempt entity) by “banning” a Democratic group while allowing a Republican one.
Liberty Counsel, the legal arm of the Falwell associated group that includes Liberty University, has responded by filing its own complaint to the IRS, claiming that AU uses IRS complaints as a means to “intimidate, silence, and harm” those with whom it disagrees. Read more
The internet is awash with people calling for court-martial and other repercussions for the soldiers shown on al Jazeera (as discussed previously). Some have even said their actions are evidence of a larger conspiracy, and that they have endangered their fellow troops.
Problem is, they’re talking about fictional events Read more
Updated: Obama’s proclamation can be read here. Text below the fold.
This year’s National Day of Prayer is Thursday, 7 May 2009. As discussed every year at about this time, the President proclaims a National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday in May in accordance with Public Law 100-307 (history).
Much ado was made of President Obama’s failure thus far to make the proclamation, in addition to questions that circulated over whether he would continue the tradition of hosting an observance at the White House. (Former proclamations by President Bush, which normally preceded the day by several weeks, have been removed from the White House website.) It has now been reported that Obama will make the proclamation, as required by law, but not host a White House observance of the day.
Last year Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation threatened to add military associations with the National Day of Prayer task force (a private group) to his DoD lawsuit, though he never followed through on his threat. Read more
In an apparent response to the claims that it took things out of context, al Jazeera has posted a seven minute unedited video clip of the “Bible study group” in which the local language Bibles were shown. The original video, discussed here, was severely edited and has caused an internet uproar calling for court martial for the Chaplains and discharge for all the military members involved.
The fuller video is somewhat vindicating, and demonstrates that the al Jazeera clip did, in fact, take the Chaplain’s and soldiers’ words out of context. The Chaplain, accused in some places of illegal action, gives very good, very legal advice, and talks about the “hearts and minds” of the Afghani and Muslim culture. He very specifically, and very emphatically, says violating General Order number one is not the “sword they want to fall on.” Read more
As noted at the Huffington Post, al Jazeera has posted a news article and segment (video on YouTube) showing military Chaplains in the Middle East with Bibles in the local language and preaching “conversion.”
While seemingly inflammatory on its face (as evidenced by the outrage in subsequent comments on the websites), the newsreel is actually an “exercise in context.” For example, it highlights this quote, also re-posted in both the al Jazeera and Huffington Post articles:
[T]he chaplains appear to have found a way around the regulation known as General Order Number One.
“Do we know what it means to proselytise?” Captain Emmit Furner, a military chaplain, says to the gathering.
“It is General Order Number One,” an unidentified soldier replies.
But [another soldier] says “you can’t proselytise but you can give gifts.”
The voiceover then continues, and the Huffington article goes on to emphasize the crime of conversion in Afghanistan.
Both ignore the significance of the very next statement by the Chaplain, which is almost obscured by the al Jazeera narrator. Read more
According to a variety of sources, the National Prayer Breakfast is an annual Washington, DC, event for Congressional and Executive leaders that has been ongoing for decades. President Obama spoke at this year’s event in February.
The tradition has spread across the country, with a variety of other locations holding similar breakfasts, luncheons, or other gatherings. Members of the Chaplain corps often sponsor Prayer Breakfasts at military installations. Prayers and speeches are often presented by Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Chaplains, as well as notable personalities. Though they are non-denominational and inclusive, they are not without controversy.
The 10th Mountain Division held theirs in early March, with noted speaker Bobby Welch invited to address the group. Welch is a Vietnam Veteran Read more