Tag Archives: military religious freedom foundation

Jewish Soldier Complains of Discrimination

As noted at Fox News, a US Army trainee complained of religious discrimination after superiors used remarks denigrating to the Jewish faith and required him to remove his yarmulke.  (As previously noted, some religious attire is authorized in uniform; in fact, the yarmulke is the only such attire specifically mentioned.)

The soldier also was the victim of assault.  According to Fox News, the Army does not believe the events are connected.  Michael Weinstein, however, not only believes they are, but believes that those responsible must be Christians.

[T]hese ever more frequent, tragic matters [are the result] of unbridled, military-sponsored Christian religious oppression…

Like every allegation, Weinstein said he intends to include this in his lawsuit(s).

Also noted at the Religion Clause.

MRFF Files New DoD Lawsuit

Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has asked for two delays in the required timeline to file a response to the DoJ’s motion to dismiss the MRFF’s ongoing lawsuit.  Reasons for the requests included the “number of pages” of supporting material in the DoJ motion, and the requests have been unopposed by the DoJ.

It appears, though, that the law firm representing the MRFF actually had other work keeping them busy: they have now filed a second lawsuit (text).  Like the first, it takes a single “issue” (in this case, the requirement that soldiers attend events in which sectarian prayers are delivered) and lumps in every possible accusation against religion in the military.  Much of the lawsuit is verbatim from other filings.

For example, it once again includes unspecified accusations against Officers’ Christian Fellowship.  It also includes references to the Ft Wood “Free Day Away,” which, as noted, has already been investigated by the Inspector General and found to be in compliance with regulations.  It also still includes complaints about the 523rd Fighter Squadron, which no longer exists, and hasn’t for some time.

Unlike the first lawsuit, it does say that the primary plaintiff, Specialist Dustin Chalker, sought permission Read more

“Under Orders” Under Fire

Chaplain Bill McCoy, author of Under Orders, now finds himself backtracking from the publication of an endorsement by General Petraeus on the cover of his book.  According to various press reports, he now says the endorsement, as well as that of another General,

were intended for me personally rather than for the general public

Under Orders was reviewed here six months ago, and the Chaplain even responded to defend his book at the time.

In typical fashion, Michael Weinstein has said Read more

Army Soldier Attempts IG Complaint

According to a Kansas paper, Army Specialist Jeremy Hall (who is currently suing the Defense Department for “religious proselytizing”), was rebuffed in a visit to the IG to complain about “violations of his religious freedoms.”  Weinstein said this “undermines” the DoJ’s move to dismiss, which cited Hall’s failure to use the in-place grievance systems.

According to the article, the visit occurred “earlier this month.”  That would make it appear to be a response to the DoJ motion, which was filed last month, and possibly an attempt to generate content for Hall’s response to the motion, which is due next month.  In addition, Weinstein (a former JAG) appears not to see a conflict of interest with the Army conducting an internal investigation about charges which are currently involved in, or related to, an ongoing federal lawsuit in which it is essentially a defendant.

According to the article, Weinstein also plans to bring up the fact that someone posted a mock Soldier’s creed (that ridiculed soldiers with medical duty waivers) in Hall’s platoon area.  The article lists a previously unknown medical restriction for Hall.  How Weinstein plans to integrate the faux creed about physical fitness into a lawsuit about religion is unclear. The sarcastic modification of military mantras is a fairly common brand of critical cynicism in the military, and is limited neither to the Army’s creed nor physical conditions.

Support for “Free Day Away” Approved by IG

In an interesting turn of events, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) undermined Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) in its recent effort to complain about Fort Leonard Wood’s “Free Day Away” (discussed here).

In July, the AU requested an IG investigation…something the MAAF did two years ago.  The MAAF also complained again last January, and received a reply (which noted that the IG had already investigated their complaint) at nearly the same time the AU made their IG request.  From the DOD reply:

The [IG] found that the program does not violate Army policy in that participation is voluntary…The IG determined that…soldiers have opportunities to participate in non-religious morale, welfare, and recreation programs.  More specifically, during the Free Day Away program,…soldiers can remain in the barracks or go to an on-post facility, such as a Post Exchange Annex.

The Free Day Away event has also featured prominently in the MRFF lawsuit against the Department of Defense.

Navy Chaplains Lack Standing to Sue

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.

For example,

As the Supreme Court has often stated, mere personal offense to government action does not give rise to standing to sue. Read more

“No Proselytizing by Military Leaders”

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.

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