Chaplain Bill McCoy, author of Under Orders, now finds himself backtracking from the publication of an endorsement by General Petraeus on the cover of his book. According to various press reports, he now says the endorsement, as well as that of another General,
were intended for me personally rather than for the general public
Under Orders was reviewed here six months ago, and the Chaplain even responded to defend his book at the time.
In typical fashion, Michael Weinstein has said Read more
According to a Kansas paper, Army Specialist Jeremy Hall (who is currently suing the Defense Department for “religious proselytizing”), was rebuffed in a visit to the IG to complain about “violations of his religious freedoms.” Weinstein said this “undermines” the DoJ’s move to dismiss, which cited Hall’s failure to use the in-place grievance systems.
According to the article, the visit occurred “earlier this month.” That would make it appear to be a response to the DoJ motion, which was filed last month, and possibly an attempt to generate content for Hall’s response to the motion, which is due next month. In addition, Weinstein (a former JAG) appears not to see a conflict of interest with the Army conducting an internal investigation about charges which are currently involved in, or related to, an ongoing federal lawsuit in which it is essentially a defendant.
According to the article, Weinstein also plans to bring up the fact that someone posted a mock Soldier’s creed (that ridiculed soldiers with medical duty waivers) in Hall’s platoon area. The article lists a previously unknown medical restriction for Hall. How Weinstein plans to integrate the faux creed about physical fitness into a lawsuit about religion is unclear. The sarcastic modification of military mantras is a fairly common brand of critical cynicism in the military, and is limited neither to the Army’s creed nor physical conditions.
In an interesting turn of events, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) undermined Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) in its recent effort to complain about Fort Leonard Wood’s “Free Day Away” (discussed here).
In July, the AU requested an IG investigation…something the MAAF did two years ago. The MAAF also complained again last January, and received a reply (which noted that the IG had already investigated their complaint) at nearly the same time the AU made their IG request. From the DOD reply:
The [IG] found that the program does not violate Army policy in that participation is voluntary…The IG determined that…soldiers have opportunities to participate in non-religious morale, welfare, and recreation programs. More specifically, during the Free Day Away program,…soldiers can remain in the barracks or go to an on-post facility, such as a Post Exchange Annex.
The Free Day Away event has also featured prominently in the MRFF lawsuit against the Department of Defense.
As noted at the Religion Clause, the 3rd Circuit Court ruled that a group of Navy Chaplains lacked standing to sue over the alleged preferential treatment of Catholic Chaplains in the Navy. The court did not rule on the merits of the case, and one judge dissented.
The decision is interesting in its relation to the ongoing lawsuit against the Defense Department brought by Jeremy Hall and the MRFF. The government has alleged that Hall (and thus the MRFF) also lacks standing for similar reasons listed by the 3rd Circuit.
As the Supreme Court has often stated, mere personal offense to government action does not give rise to standing to sue. Read more
In what appears to be an ongoing interview, the 25th Infantry Division Chaplain, Lt Col Tom Wheatley (who was previously quoted here), has stated that he has seen no evidence that military leaders have participated in the actions alleged by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Michael Weinstein.
The Chaplain did state he had seen it occur “from fellow soldiers,” when a “Christian…might give a fellow soldier a hard time who professes to be atheist or maybe a different faith group.” While not sanctioned by the military, such actions are explicitly permitted under Constitutional protections, insomuch as they are within the bounds of regulations regarding good order and discipline.
Casey Weinstein, son of MRFF founder Michael Weinstein, was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB with his wife while they were both on active duty. He remains in the area looking for a job as a reservist. Now, a local Jewish paper is carrying an article in which Michael Weinstein has said
Wright-Patterson Air Force base is a “hotbed” of “unconstitutional religious intolerance.”
The younger Weinstein reportedly complained about a “prayer in Jesus’ name” that was a “violation of Air Force regulations” (a conclusion which is actually incorrect). He also “got in [the] face” of his superior over an email about John Gibson’s The War on Christmas. [Casey Weinstein, a 2004 Air Force Academy graduate, was a fairly vocal supporter of his father’s accusations against the military even while the younger Weinstein was on active duty. (He also posted an interestingly accusatory comment here.)] Read more
CNN’s AC360 blog updates yesterday’s story with information on the government’s move to dismiss the suit. In a commentary that unapologetically sides with Specialist Hall, CNN’s Randi Kaye notes that Hall, an atheist,
…isn’t seeking money, just religious freedom…
Kaye then expresses shock that the defendant would have the gall to ask for the suit to be dismissed:
[T]he U.S. Government, the very government Hall agreed to serve and risk his life for, wants his lawsuit tossed out.
The only response included in the commentary is Hall’s admission that much of the premise of the government’s motion to dismiss is correct: he did not use any of the in-place military processes to address his griveances, because “nothing ever gets done.”
In a fairly well written argument, the government has filed a motion to dismiss the ongoing lawsuit against the Defense Department brought by Army Specialist Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. (The response was due, and filed, on the 8th.) Salient points are below (emphasis added), though many were previously already talked about here.
The short version: he failed to use the systems in place to seek redress; the solutions he requests are already in place; and he does not allege harm by any “institutional bias” for which the only support is a list of vague references.
On the request that Secretary of Defense Gates be required to prevent Constitutional violations by his military subordinates:
Secretary Gates already exercises his authority to prevent constitutional violations through the Army’s existing Equal Opportunity Program — which Specialist Hall failed to invoke…