The American Humanist Association claims it wants to support religious freedom when it demands an atheist chaplain. Simultaneously, it is threatening “legal action” because camouflage Bibles are available at a military inprocessing station for the Missouri National Guard.
The…recruitment center for the National Guard as well as other military offices…exhibited and offered camouflage-covered Bibles free of charge to recruits enlisting in the National Guard…The letter was sent on behalf of an anonymous recruit who felt that the government was impermissibly endorsing the Bibles and coercing recruits to take them…
The letter demands that the government immediately cease its practice of offering Bibles to National Guard recruits and remove any biblical literature from its possession.
The person who complained was a member of Read more
Update: J.B. Wells wonders aloud if the DoD intentionally produced the policy to change the religious freedom focus to turbans and beards while keeping “liberal constituencies” like Michael Weinstein “at bay.”
There have been a wide variety of responses to the US military’s update to DODI 1300.17 (accommodating religious freedom), with language that seems to imply a more open attitude toward outward display and expression of religious belief.
The Christian Post, like many sites, focused on the apparent ability to wear religious accoutrements:
The Pentagon reportedly decided to change its policy on religious wear after Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a Sikh, spoke at a Congressional briefing about the challenges American Sikhs face in the military earlier in January. Kalsi told members of Congress that he believes he can effectively serve his country while still maintaining his religious appearance, including an uncut beard and a turban.
While that may or may not have been a factor, the DoDI clearly includes language from both the 2013 and 2014 National Defense Authorization Acts — that is, requirements levied by Congress, not just reconsideration based on serving Soldiers.
The US Navy appeared to try to quell Read more
A host of websites have reported the US Department of Defense has “relaxed” its rules regarding religious accommodation. More accurately, the military has updated its policies on requesting such accommodations in a manner that does seem to imply they will be more amenable to such requests. Department of Defense Instruction 1300.17 (DoDI 1300.17) now has “Change 1”, which can be found here (PDF).
“The new policy states that military departments will accommodate religious requests of service members,” [Pentagon spokesman Navy LtCmdr Nathan Christensen] said, “unless a request would have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion and good order and discipline.”
When a service member requests such an accommodation, he added, department officials balance the need of the service member against the need to accomplish the military mission. Such a request is denied only if an official determines that mission accomplishment needs outweigh the need of the service member, Christensen said.
The key word in the quote and the instruction itself — the DoD will accommodate.
These changes include an apparent allowance of religious facial hair and “body art,” as well as direct responses to the 2013 and 2014 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) requiring the US military to accommodate religious expression: Read more
According to the homosexual news outlet the Washington Blade, the US Coast Guard has added “sexual orientation and genetic information” to its Equal Opportunity policies.
The guidance, made public Thursday morning by the American Military Partners Association and dated Oct. 13, says “sexual orientation and genetic information” are now included as part of equal opportunity and anti-discrimination/anti-harassment policy statements within the Coast Guard. The guidance is signed at the bottom by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp.
This naturally led for calls for the Department of Defense to do the same Read more
Pentagon spokesman Nate Christensen stressed that the Defense Department celebrates religious diversity and that military personnel have the full right to exercise their religious beliefs, as long as doing so does not negatively affect the military’s mission or other individuals’ rights.
Tom Carpenter is a co-chair of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy — a group that advocated for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — a 1970 US Naval Academy graduate, and a former US Marine A-4 pilot. He recently came out against religious freedom legislation now supported by the endorsing bodies of the vast majority of US military chaplains. (Carpenter recently repeated near-verbatim atheist talking points rebutting some of the most recent claims of hostility toward religious freedom in the military.)
In apparent shock, Carpenter said, for example: Read more
Religion News Service’s Kimberly Winston* writes about Jason Heap, a humanist trying to become a chaplain in the US military.
Heap’s goal is not assured. He fits the requirements…The only thing he does not have is an endorsement from a religious organization approved by the Navy.
And there’s the rub: Heap is a Humanist…The Humanist Society — like all organizations that represent nonbelievers — is not among the Department of Defense’s list of approximately 200 groups allowed to endorse chaplains.
Ultimately, the article does little more than try to keep the concept of “atheist chaplains” (which have been discussed ad nauseum) in the media, and it says little new.
On the other hand, the article does include a fascinating response from DoD spokesman LtCmdr Nate Christensen on “why there are no nonbelievers Read more
Increasingly, each one of us in our different organizations and capacities have been getting confidential calls and other reports and information from members of the military pointing to this growing hostility toward religious freedom. Unfortunately, members of the military cannot speak out about these things.
This is just a sampling of the cases that have been made public.
– Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Representatives from 14 groups joined three US Congressmen to release a report on “The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military” (PDF) and press for passage of legislation allowing US military servicemembers to act and speak on their faith: Read more