Chris Rodda has long been a “creative” writer, despite her sometimes claim to be an apparent amateur historian. While she has been quick to call out the errors of others with whom she disagrees, she ignores the errors of those who are on her side. She has also published a bevy of, to put it nicely, misleading writings. For someone so quick to call others “liars,” she has a very unique view of the truth.
With that in mind, Rodda published a blog yesterday with an attention-grabbing title:
National Defense Authorization Act to Include Military Training on How to Force Religion on Others.
Like much of what she writes, though, her title wasn’t true. (Most obviously, the NDAA hasn’t left either side of Congress yet, much less gone through conference committee or to the President. In other words, the NDAA doesn’t “include” anything yet.)
The short version of a long, meandering blog (Rodda has never been one for being succinct), is that Rodda is upset about Senate bill 4049, which was introduced in the Senate only a couple of weeks ago. Within it, the Senate requires the US military to conduct training on “Religious Accommodation” that must include:
- Federal statutes, DoD Instructions, Service regulations regarding religious liberty and accommodation for members of the Armed Forces
- The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
- Section 533 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
- Section 528 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016
Of that content, Rodda takes issue only with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The RFRA is fairly short, and it says the government cannot “substantially burden” exercise of religion, with some Read more
It’s been in the paperwork for months, but the “exciting” political environment has overshadowed the potential religious liberty fight brewing in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The House version of the NDAA contains a simple, if seemingly obtuse, statement known as the Russell Amendment (via Rep. Steve Russell, R-OK, who offered the amendment):
Any branch or agency of the Federal Government shall, with respect to any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution, or religious society that is a recipient of or offeror for a Federal Government contract, subcontract, grant, purchase order, or cooperative agreement, provide protections and exemptions consistent with sections 702(a) and 703(e)(2) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a) and 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(e)(2)) and section 103(D) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 USC 12113(D)).
The short version of the story is that in 2014 President Obama issued an Executive Order that required anyone wanting to do business with the Federal government to affirmatively state they hire without regard to “sexual orientation or gender identity.” That could very well affect a large number of contractors who do hire with regard to such issues — because they hire based on the requirements of their religious faith.
The Russell Amendment basically Read more
Senators Mark Udall (D-Co) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo) have proposed an amendment to the yet-to-be-approved 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Air Force to review safety for its ejection seats:
Under the amendment, the Air Force also must analyze how ejection seats protect the head, neck and spinal cord during ejection; analyze any initiatives currently looking at making the ejection process safer; and update Congress on the status of any testing or qualifications on upgraded ejection seats.
The article notes Read more
Update: The House passed the Appropriations bill along with the amendment referenced below requiring chaplains to have endorsers — effectively prohibiting non-theistic chaplains (along with any new endorsers). Rep Doug Collins (R-Ga) accused atheist activists of having the real goal of covertly undermining the entire institution of the military chaplaincy.
The Obama Administration has threatened to veto the 2014 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, saying it is too generous with military pay and too stingy with civilian pay.
As a point of clarification, the Defense Appropriations Act is a distinct entity from the Defense Authorization Act (or NDAA), which has been the point of focus for the past few months. The Authorization Act describes how the US DoD is “authorized” to organize and operate; the Appropriations Act “appropriates” the money to accomplish that end.
The appropriations bills were actually already passed by each house of Congress, but have yet to come out of conference committee.
Additionally, the recent push for atheist chaplains has now generated an official Congressional response — twice. First, US Rep Jared Polis (D-Co) offered an amendment (#295) to the authorization act that would have permitted Read more
Update: Weinstein responded:
Weinstein is the kind of guy who revels in the dislike of his adversaries.
“How terrified are these little pu***es in Congress that they have to pass an amendment about me?” he shouted in a phone interview from the foundation’s headquarters in Albuquerque, N.M., using a putdown associated with a woman’s genitalia.
In the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, US Rep John Fleming successfully changed the 2013 NDAA wording after the US Air Force appeared to be acting as a part of Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s self-described “war” on Christians.
Weinstein also inspired US Rep Tim Huelskamp (R-Ks) to add an amendment of his own which would require the Department of Defense to report to Congress every time it met with an outside group for the purpose of
writing, revising, issuing, implementing, enforcing, or seeking advice, input, or counsel regarding military policy related to religious liberty.
This was clearly in response to Weinstein’s 23 April meeting with the JAG of the US Air Force, among others, which Weinstein bragged about to his like-minded media arm, Sally Quinn. Rep Huelskamp even called it a “rebuke” of “anti-Christian zealot Michael Weinstein.”
The MRFF has sarcastically embraced this amendment, because it would “force” the DoD to report on its meetings with groups like Chaplain endorsers: Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s recent attacks on religious freedom — and the apparent subservience of the US Air Force to his every whim — have inspired the US Congress to write opposition to Weinstein into law. Twice.
In the first, US Rep John Fleming (R-La.) successfully inserted language into the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would be more explicit than that which was in the 2013 version — and which was subsequently dismissed in a “signing statement” by President Obama. (According to reports, the Department of Defense has yet to produce regulations implementing the provision, as required.) Rep Fleming’s amendment, Section 530, says [wording changes from 2013 highlighted]: Read more
US Rep Randy Forbes (R-Va) reportedly “grilled” relatively new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel over
a steady stream of religious discrimination complaints over the past four years from Christian soldiers.
For his part, Secretary Hagel said he’d have to get back to the Congressman:
Hagel said he had no idea what the congressman was talking about.
“I don’t know about all the specifics of the information you presented,” he told the lawmaker. “I will get it. And I will find out about it.”
When asked if the DoD was enforcing section 533 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Obama, Secretary Hagel again pled ignorance Read more
Update: The ACLU has likewise opposed the religious protections in the bill, which a local article called a “needed balance.”
The Congressional conference committee has sent the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) back to both houses of Congress for a vote. (It is reportedly expected to pass, and to be signed by President Obama.) The conference committee report includes expanded abortion coverage, a restriction on Guantanamo detainee transfers, and religious liberty protections for US troops. The religious liberty protection language is not precisely what the House had passed (as opposed to the Senate, which passed none), but it is substantially similar:
SEC. 533. PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AND CHAPLAINS OF SUCH MEMBERS.
(a) PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE.—
(1) ACCOMMODATION.—The Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs of a member of the armed forces reflecting the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member and, in so far as practicable, may not use such beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment.
(2) DISCIPLINARY OR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION.—
Nothing in paragraph (1) precludes disciplinary or administrative action for conduct that is proscribed by chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code (the Uniform Code of Military Justice), including actions and speech that threaten good order and discipline.
The committee explained the result of their negotiations this way: Read more