The Colorado Springs Gazette covers the President’s commencement address at the US Air Force Academy on Wednesday.
Our nation is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair – the ideology of Islamic extremism. In today’s struggle, we are once again facing evil men who despise freedom, and despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule. And once again, our nation is called to defeat these adversaries – and secure the peace for millions across the world. And once again, our enemies will be no match for the men and women of the United States Air Force….
Be officers of character and integrity. Keep your wings level and true. Never falter; do not fail. And always know that America stands behind you.
Thank you. May God bless, and congratulations to the Class of 2008.
See the full text.
In a video at the Baptist Press, Chaplain (Capt) Jeff Struecker speaks about the spiritual support he gives the trainees at the US Army Ranger School.
The more difficult the circumstances, the more receptive they are to issues of faith…
There is an urgency for me to share the gospel of Jesus Christ…
My heroes are Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airman, and I can’t think of a greater privilege than to be a pastor to a group of my heroes.
The Chaplain is the former Staff Sergeant Struecker of Blackhawk Down fame. One of his stories is recounted in Stories from a Soldier’s Heart, and he has written his story in The Road to Unafraid. (See the last three paragraphs of this article.)
According to CNN (with more commentary here), a US Army Major General formally apologized to an Iraqi village after a soldier used a Koran for target practice. The General called the soldier’s actions “criminal behavior,” and a military official “kissed a Koran” and provided it as a gift to the village.
An Iraqi party claimed that the apology and reassignment were insufficient and demanded “the severest punishment.”
UPDATE: According to CNN, President Bush has personally apologized to the Iraqi Prime Minister. CNN has updated the article in response to the White House assertion that there was no “apology.”
The World Net Daily, which can sometimes be justifiably accused of sensationalizing its stories, carries a report about a fundamental Baptist Chaplain who claims that his services in Iraq were “suppressed” because “it was offensive to the brigade chaplain.”
Without the true facts of the case, it is impossible to draw a conclusion. It is true that it would be improper for a chapel service to be cancelled for its theology; it is also true that the military is under no obligation to have a chapel service for every “flavor” of religion in its ranks.
It is possible that this is the case to which the ACLJ previously referred.
A federal court has ruled that the Army must grant conscientious objector status to an Alaska-based soldier whose application was previously denied. Historically, the Army has insisted that a CO object to all war, not just “this” war, and the soldier’s previous comments seemed to indicate that he looked forward to combat. The soldier indicated that his objection developed as a result of what he saw in Iraq. The judge did concede that the military had a legitimate concern on the “timing” of the CO application, but that it could not deny it based solely on that cause.
The text of the ruling can be seen at the Religion Clause.
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.
According to an AF.mil article, the Air Force has announced the winners of the 2007 Chaplain Service Awards. Among many others was included the “Spirit of the Four Chaplains Award,” which honors the memory of the four Chaplains lost on the USAT Dorchester 65 years ago this year. In the quartet there was a Catholic Priest, Jewish Rabbi, and two Protestant Chaplains. More information on the four Chaplains can be seen on the website of the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, which
exists to further the cause of “unity without uniformity” by encouraging goodwill and cooperation among all people.
“Unity without uniformity” may be an excellent way to describe the necessary relationships among those of varying faiths in the military today–where Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines work together without any requirement that they necessarily believe the same tenets (or are required to accept the truth claims of another system).
An AF.mil article highlights the unique circumstances of a Jewish US Air Force Chaplain in Iraq. The article notes that he is the only AF Jewish Chaplain in the AOR, though a recent article at the Jerusalem Post indicates that there are four more in the US Army also deployed there.