According to the New York Times, Third Air Force has opened an investigation into an email incident that occurred in January. Col Kimberly Toney, the 501st Wing Commander, sent out a message that linked to an “inspirational” video. Complaints arose because of the religious tone of the video and other content on the host site that was reportedly derogatory to the President. Toney subsequently sent out another email apologizing for the first.
A Master Sergeant who complained to the press and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has said he may join “the [MRFF’s] litigation as a plaintiff” as a result. Weinstein has called the incident “hideous and almost beyond belief” and a “textbook case” of a
pervasive pattern of constitutional abuse.
As noted at the Religion Clause.
The Stanford Progressive, a “left-leaning” student paper which boasts a circulation of “members of the Stanford community,…student residences and…community centers,” recently interviewed Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The interview, laced with profanity and transcription errors, is available here.
To the question, “what are the Officer’s Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade?”, Weinstein opined:
They are blights on America and a disgusting example of extremist prejudice and bigotry in this country.
In the interview Weinstein clearly discriminates between “evangelical” Christians and “dominionist” Christians. He says they both have “religious philosophies” that he “[hates],” and they both Read more
As reported by the military press, Chaplain (Capt.) David Haltom and Staff Sgt. Porscha Howard are the chapel team for the Airmen at Camp Victory, Iraq. The AF Chief of Chaplains, Maj. Gen. Cecil Richardson, has noted that Chaplains in combat are sought out by deployed members:
In the AOR, the chaplain can’t walk from point A to point B without being pulled aside for a question. In fact, chaplains often spend seven to 10 hours a day counseling Airmen, hearing them ask, ‘would you pray for me?’ Read more
As previously noted, news reports indicate that the US Army is continuing to face a tragic trend in suicides within its ranks. The trend is nearly double the rate for 2008, during which there were 138 confirmed suicides (with 5 cases still under investigation).
The Army has said it is “standing down” for suicide training, as well as “standing up” a task force to be headed by Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, a military police officer.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli has said that “suicide is a multi-dimensional problem and as such will take a multi-disciplinary approach to dealing with it.” McGuire will look “across all disciplines [so commanders] can have a menu of tools, of training programs and experts that he can turn to and know how to best employ.” To that end, reports indicate they are investigating suicide prevention methodologies in a variety of fields, including both mental health and the Chaplaincy. Read more
Dong Yun Yoon’s family was killed when an F-18 crashed into his home near Miramar. His reaction brought national pity, when he asked that people not blame the pilot, one of “the treasures of our country,” but pray for him.
News reports now indicate that the Marines have fired the commander, maintenance officer, operations officer, and duty officer of the squadron; nine others were also punished as a result of the crash, which has been described as “avoidable.” There are not yet any indications that the pilot was punished; he was criticized for not properly referencing his checklist, but also credited for staying with the aircraft well after he should have ejected in an attempt to steer the aircraft to a nearby canyon.
Contributing to the death of innocents–but surviving oneself–is one of the greatest fears a pilot can face.
Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times has written an article revisiting the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s complaints over religious content in Army suicide prevention material, as previously discussed here.
The article mentions that Michael Weinstein was able to meet with Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz. It is a potential irony that Schwartz, like Weinstein, is Jewish (a fact not missed at his nomination), and that his class of 1973 at the Air Force Academy was replaced by Weinstein’s class of 1977. Schwartz made no secret of his faith as a cadet and has not indicated that he experienced negative repercussions, while Weinstein claims a disturbing religious discrimination event while a cadet is the motivation behind all he does.
Weinstein reportedly said of the meeting with Schwartz
he [took] it very seriously, [and] he also acknowledged that there is a problem
Weinstein previously called Schwartz a “yes man” unable to “stand up” for what was right:
Because there’s a Jew in there, that’s supposed to make everything fine? It’s not fine. It doesn’t make a difference that he’s there. The reason to me is that he’s a yes man. He’s not going to stand up to do what needs to be done. But we’ll see.
Lichtblau notes that groups that oppose the MRFF fear an overreaction in the opposite direction.
CNN carried an article on Wednesday about Vice President Biden’s “stimulus oversight meeting.” Neither the article nor the accompanying photo caption mentioned what many noticed in the photo.
Biden is a professed Catholic, and he evidently observed Ash Wednesday. Even though he is Vice President of the United States, and even though he was acting in his official capacity in front of the world, he is Constitutionally guaranteed the right to religious free exercise.
The same is true for members of the military. Read more
Many outlets carried news of Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson’s resignation as chairman of the organization. Interestingly, this caught the attention of some military/religion activist groups. They have frequently belittled Focus and accused it of complicity in its dealings with the US Air Force Academy just a few miles away in Colorado Springs, accusing it of attempting to “Christianize” the military.
The new outrage is over Dobson’s replacement: Patrick P. Caruana. Caruana is a 1963 Air Force Academy graduate and retired as an Air Force Lieutenant General in 1997. To some, it is the perfect proof of conspiracy.