As reported at the Religion Clause, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has permitted the optional inclusion of “So Help Me God” in the oath of naturalization. Referring to the test used by the Supreme Court regarding the Bladensburg Peace Cross, the Court said:
We follow the Supreme Court’s most recent framework and apply American Legion’s presumption of constitutionality to the phrase “so help me God” in the naturalization oath because we consider the inclusion of similar words to be a ceremonial, longstanding practice as an optional means of completing an oath. And because the record does not demonstrate a discriminatory intent in maintaining those words in the oath or “deliberate disrespect” by the inclusion of the words, Perrier-Bilbo cannot overcome the presumption.
That amount of legal defense almost seems ridiculous, given that the plaintiff was complaining about an optional phrase. She wasn’t trying to avoid saying something she didn’t want to; she wanted to prevent others the option of saying it. She’d already been given more than one option to omit the phrase: Read more
A few years ago, it seemed issues of religion in the military – scandals, some might say – dominated the news cycle for weeks out of the year. Every December the “top ten” religion media stories of the year included several regarding the US military. More recently, however, such “scandals” have fallen out of the news. To be sure, issues of religion in the military still pop up every now and then, but now those stories tend to involve actual issues of religion in the military, not manufactured outrage. Media stories are now far more likely to be about the changes that allow a Sikh to wear a turban or beard than about some random member of the military saying “have a blessed day” or having a Bible on their desk.
Part of the reason for this change has been the rise of religious liberty organizations who have defended the religious rights of US troops. The Becket Fund, First Liberty Institute, the ACLJ and others like them have become prominent and public defenders of religious freedom in the US military. While they were available to troops as a resource for many years, these organizations have gradually become more proactive, to the point that recent changes in US law and military policy have been proposed – and successfully passed – because of these groups. These laws and policies have dampened some of the prior years’ flail because they unified and standardized the military’s response to faith and free exercise. Rather than a cycle of military bases having repeats of the same kerfuffle, overarching policies govern the reaction of the entire DoD. (Sometimes.)
The end result is Read more
In an effort to provide encouragement in the current environment of stress and concern, the Air Force Reserve posted a video on their Facebook page from their Public Affairs that highlighted spiritual resilience, or what provides someone “meaning and purpose.” The video was from the perspective of the Air Force chaplaincy and featured an interview with Air Force Reserve Command Chaplain (Col) Randy Marshall. It also featured a variety of Airman talking about what ‘gave [them] purpose every day.’ For some, but not all, it was their faith in Jesus Christ.
That did not make Michael “Mikey” Weinstein happy:
Weinstein fired off a letter to everyone in the Air Force chain of command claiming the video was [formatting original]
WRETCHEDLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND TOTALLY ILLICIT CHRISTIAN SUPREMACY PROSELYTIZING
Naturally, seeing a Read more
Celebrating “Diversity”…You’re Doing it Wrong.
Documented histories of the Tuskegee Airmen indicate the famed World War II aviators “overcame segregation” to become some of the best combat units of the war, and that their continued excellence in service ultimately contributed to the de-segregation of the US military long before the rest of American society.
In a twist of apparently unintended irony, the US military has repeatedly chosen to celebrate the Tuskegee triumph over segregation by…instituting segregation [emphasis added]:
The aircraft was a C-5M Super Galaxy assigned to the 22nd Airlift Squadron, and its 11-person crew was all African-American. This historic mission was created to honor the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen…
This flight was historic since it was the first time an all African-American C-5M crew was formed to honor the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen and highlight the diversity of the Air Force…
“It is important that the Air Force is diverse enough to have an all African-American crew…”
To make the crew work, they needed to de-conflict schedules…“The barriers to making this happen were just coordinating a time when everyone could be available between other training events, leave and other obligations.”
In other words, a US Air Force unit went out of its way to coordinate the schedules of personnel and aircraft to make sure it could man a mission with an entire crew of one particular skin color.
That was 2018, but it continued in 2019 and the trend continues today, with US Air Force units bending Read more
As previously discussed, the Bayview Cross in Pensacola, Florida, had been challenged on the same grounds as the Bladensburg Peace Cross, with accusations it was an unconstitutional endorsement of the Christian faith.
The original court ruled against the Bayview Cross — reluctantly, essentially asking the Supreme Court to overrule it. The Supreme Court remanded the Bayview Cross case after its Bladensburg ruling.
Now, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has finally formally ruled the Bayview Cross can stand: Read more
US Army Soldier Jarrett William Smith out of Fort Riley recently pleaded guilty to “distributing explosives information”.
Smith used social media to advise others on how to construct improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, McAllister said. Among the explosives was a recipe for improvised napalm…
Smith detailed the instructions for how to construct a cellphone detonator for an IED “in the style of the Afghans.” He also detailed how to build a bomb using the heads of matches.
Due to be sentenced in May, prosecutors are recommending “supervised release”.
Smith’s motivation? The devil, apparently.
While Smith’s defense attorney Read more
Last week, Scott Air Force Base tweaked the wording of its invitation to it annual National Prayer Breakfast after Michael “Mikey” Weinstein complained. The breakfast is scheduled for the 25th of February.
The original e-vite — which was not sent to anyone but was only available if you clicked through to the Air Force’s official RSVP site — followed standard Air Force protocol. The guest of honor is the Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Second Air Force; the “host” was the Wing Commander, Col J. Scot Heathman.
Weinstein loudly complained that by having the Wing Commander’s name on the invite, random subordinates felt “coerced” to attend. The fact that the POC on the invite was the chaplains’ office, not the commander, apparently escaped him.
(Remember that this is the same person whose lawsuit about coercion over a USAFA national prayer breakfast fell apart when the judge ruled they hadn’t remotely demonstrated any actual potential of retribution if they did not attend.)
Scott AFB was apparently Read more
Last week, the US Air Force quietly published an update to its uniform regulation, AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, which governs how Airmen are required to wear their uniforms. The new regulation included attachments that specifically covered turbans, hijabs, and beards for the first time. While AFI 36-2903 previously discussed “religious apparel,” this is the first time it was covered in such depth.
In addition, it prioritized accommodation Air Force wide. For example, previous versions often restricted accommodation — if it was even granted — to a single military installation.
The new regulation also lowers the level of approval required for some accommodations. For example, Wing Commanders (generally, the commander of the Air Force base) are authorized to approve
hijab, beard, turban or under-turban/patka, unshorn beards, unshorn hair, and indoor/outdoor head coverings.
Importantly, however, if the commander desires to disapprove that accommodation, the request has to be disapproved at AF Headquarters at Read more