In previous posts (original, update) regarding the MRFF lawsuit against Jeremy Hall’s superior officer and the Defense Department, it has been noted that the American judicial system has been loathe to interfere with the separate judiciary of the military. It has also been noted that, to this point, it does not appear Hall utilized the in-place grievance systems.
So as not to depend on “urban legend” and rumor, a little research resulted in finding the Supreme Court case of Chappell v. Wallace (1983), which addresses both of these concerns, and is quoted extensively below.
In Chappell v. Wallace, 462 U.S. 296 (1983), which can be referenced in its entirety here, the US Supreme Court held that superiors could not be sued by their subordinates because Read more
This is an update on the previous post (below) regarding the MRFF lawsuit against the military.
The MRFF lawsuit (now available) is “comprehensive” in that it lists virtually every military ministry the MRFF could think of, and accuses the military of undefined impermissible conduct with them. Michael Weinstein lists 11 different “evidences” of “patterns and practices” of improper promotion of religious beliefs. The 11 examples essentially comprise the most recent highlights of Weinstein’s “war” against evangelical Christianity in the military; some of the examples are vague, and none of them are substantiated. One of them will likely be quickly ruled moot, as the 523rd Fighter Squadron “Crusaders,” terminology with which Weinstein objects, have been deactivated since May and thus no longer exist.
It appears Weinstein intends to use one court case to address Read more
According to a press release, Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has sued the military on behalf of an Army soldier. According to the announcement, an officer harassed Army Specialist Jeremy Hall when he attempted to convene a meeting of atheists. (The text of the suit is not yet available.)
Updated 20 September: The text of the lawsuit is available here. See the new post for latest commentary.
The lawsuit apparently names the Defense Secretary Robert Gates as defendant because the incident is evidence of “a pattern of military practices that discriminate against non-Christians in the military,” which he allegedly permitted in his role as Defense Secretary.
Much like his Academy lawsuit, it appears that Weinstein is attempting to aggrandize a discrete event into a larger opportunity. A niche news article on the suit (which has yet to be seen in the mainstream media) indicated that the assertions meandered from the soldier to other unrelated issues, like alleged military support of civilian Christian organizations as well as the recent Pentagon IG report (previous commentary). Weinstein himself has implied that this goes ‘beyond’ the two men, and said that Read more
As previously reported on the Religion Clause, TruthOut is reporting that Weinstein’s MRFF is again complaining about an outside Christian organization having access to the Pentagon. This time it was David Kistler’s HOPE ministries.
The article makes it unclear whether it is the theology that is the issue (since much of the article is a mockery of Kistler’s views) or the fact it was a religious organization.
While the writer makes it appear that it is “intuitively obvious” that the Pentagon again violated the ‘Constitutional separation of church and state,’ that is not the case. Chaplains routinely host outside visitors of varied religious persuasions for the spiritual benefit of their servicemen, which is their legal duty.
While Weinstein may disagree, the Constitution and the courts have supported the religious influence of the chaplaincy and its programs in the military.
Michael Weinstein opines about the state of Christianity in the military in a relatively tame editorial in the LA Times.
According to One News Now, Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, is concerned that organizations like Weinstein’s MRFF may “extrapolate” the IG’s recent decision regarding Pentagon officers’ participation in a Christian Embassy video (see recent post below).
The IG found that the officers violated Joint Ethics Regulations regarding endorsement of a “non-federal entity while in uniform,” but also noted that the violations had nothing to do with religion. Weinstein has proclaimed on his website that the report proves
…the intentional dismantling of the Constitutionally mandated wall separating church and state by some of the highest ranking officials in the Bush Administration and the U.S. military…
Perkins points out that the issue at stake was not Constitutionality or the Establishment Clause, as Weinstein insists, but non-religious ethics regulations.
Perkins expressed concern that “extrapolation” to the appearance of punishing the officers’ involvement with a religious organization (which was not the case) may “intimidate…military personnel from being associated with religion.”
Tikkun, which describes itself as a “progressive Jewish magazine,” recently gave an interview to Michael Weinstein in which he repeated many of his standard lines (America is equivalent to Nazi Germany in 1937, on a train to Slaughterville, withering fields of fire and sucking chest wounds, etc).
When Weinstein couldn’t come up with one, Tikkun told him it believed that the reason for the rise of the “Christian Right” was that only Christians were adequately responding to a “spiritual crisis” in America. Weintein was asked how he would address this “crisis:”
How do you build character in this multi-religious, pluralistic way, that is feminist, that is sensitive to people, and yet is part of this huge, military, dominate-the-world force that seems to be what the American military is up to now?
His response: Read more
As noted recently in Time magazine (and the Washington Post, as of 6 Aug), the Inspector General completed its investigation (on July 20th) into the participation of military officers in a Christian Embassy promotional video.
No “official” release of the “Official Use Only” report could be found, though a few sites have scanned copies–most notably, Michael Weinstein’s MRFF, which claims credit for instigating the investigation. [Edit: The IG has released a public version on their website. It is now available here.]
Notable quotes from the report:
Military officers who appeared in a promotional video for Christian Embassy improperly endorsed and participated with a non-federal entity while in uniform. (Violates JER Sections 2635.702b and 3-300a, and DoD and Service Regulations on uniform wear.)
Two participants were found not to have violated any rules, because though they personally endorsed Christian Embassy Read more