Tag Archives: MRFF

US Military Chaplains & al Jazeera, Redux

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

National Day of Prayer, 7 May 09

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

Updated: More al Jazeera Chaplain Video

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

US Military Chaplains on al Jazeera

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

Military National Prayer Breakfasts

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

DoJ Moves to Dismiss Chalker/MRFF Lawsuit

The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Specialist Dustin Chalker and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.  The lawsuit (discussed previously and available here) alleged that Chalker was forced to attend formations that had Christian prayers.  It asked that the Courts direct that the DoD not require Chalker to attend formations at which a prayer was given.

The motion to dismiss contains a variety of strong points (some of which have been mentioned on this site previously).  In particular Read more

MRFF Calls for Chief Chaplain’s Court Martial

According to a variety of reports, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has called for the dismissal of Chaplain (Major General) Douglas Carver, the US Army’s Chief Chaplain.  As noted earlier, Chaplain Carver had called for a day of prayer and fasting among his Chaplaincy corps on April 8th, which coincided with the beginning of Passover celebrations in the Jewish community.

Weinstein claimed he’d received a “tsunami” of complaints against the Day of Prayer, though his MRFF is the only organization to protest.  Weinstein, who is Jewish, said

The fact that this would fall on this same day is not just wrong or bad, but unforgivable, and Carver should be severely disciplined.

By contrast, some responses, by those of both the Jewish and other faiths, expressed support for the Chaplain, noting that Jewish fasts are entirely appropriate on this day.   One post appears to have been written by Chaplain (Col) Jacob Goldstein, the US Army’s “Senior Jewish Chaplain,” Read more

Military Religious Freedom: The Torah in Iraq

The Air Force news published articles and pictures (see below the fold) of a Torah dedication ceremony in Balad, Iraq, on March 23rd, as well as the accompanying adult Bar Mitzvah of an enlisted Airmen.

Contrary to some assertions, such public displays of faith do not demonstrate an institutional favoritism of a religion (in this case, Judaism) by the military or by the government.  Such expressions–even in a region of the world that has elements hostile to both Judaism and America–are not only permitted but also encouraged, just as the free exercise of other faiths is also supported.

Such displays are also wholly permissible in uniform, as these Airmen were.  The Airmen wore yarmulkes Read more

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