As the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic increasingly restricted personal interaction, US military chaplains did what many of their civilian counterparts were doing and increased their “virtual” presence through online chapel services and videos. Chaplains who could no longer interact with their troops on the PT field, in the barracks, or in the halls — like Chaplain (Maj) Brian Minietta — found other ways to do so, including using their units’ Facebook pages.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein did not like this, claiming that the presence of chaplains’ video messages on unit Facebook pages constituted command endorsement of the message and coercion of subordinates to those beliefs. According to Weinstein acolyte Lawrence Wilkerson, whose primary claim to fame is being the former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, these military chaplains were actually violating the US Constitution.
While laughable on its face, it would seem the US Army Chaplain Corps ultimately agreed. It provided guidance (PDF) to its chaplains on May 26th in which it instructed chaplains to keep “specific religious” messages off unit Facebook pages:
General encouragement can be placed on a unit webpage, but specific religious support content should be on a dedicated UMT, RSO, or Chapel webpage.
In fact, as the MRFF gleefully noted, the Chaplain guidance went Read more
The US Navy recently announced that its Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) — those Sailors who operate and maintain the surface fleet of ships — will be allowed to wear a black leather jacket for “esprit de corps” and to identify with a “long lineage of professional ship drivers.”
Yet even the Navy’s official release noted the jacket’s aviator connotation: Read more
Last July, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF complained to the US military that Shields of Strength was combining US military trademarks with Bible verses on novelty dog tags. SoS did have authorization to use the military trademarks, but the Army told SoS to stop to prevent the “negative press.” A few weeks ago, the Marines did the same thing. First Liberty has come to their defense.
In an op-ed published at the Military Times earlier this week, First Liberty’s Mike Berry told the story:
Kenny Vaughan started Shields of Strength (“SoS”). SoS is a small, faith-based company from Texas that produces military-themed items inscribed with encouraging Bible verses. For more than two decades, Kenny has been making these inspirational replica dog tags for service members and first responders. To date, SoS has donated hundreds of thousands of its replica dog tags to military units…
Over the years, SoS replica dog tags became so popular and so nearly ubiquitous that, according to author and historian Stephen Mansfield, “aside from the official insignias they wear, [the SoS dog tag] is the emblem most often carried by members of the military in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Berry and First Liberty sent Read more
The US Navy is set to name its newest submarines for two of the most famous vessels from the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941:
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly [said]:
“I am honored and humbled to name the next two Virginia-class nuclear fast-attack submarines to be built as the USS Oklahoma (SSN-802) and the USS Arizona (SSN-803). It is my fondest wish that the citizens of the great states of Arizona and Oklahoma will understand and celebrate our Navy’s desire to memorialize the 1,177 heroes who perished in USS Arizona (BB-39) and the 429 more in USS Oklahoma (BB-37) in Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941.”
Naming vessels for such Read more
Task & Purpose reports on a “leaked” US Naval Academy email that announced the advent of Satanic services to be held on the Academy grounds. (The story was subsequently picked up by the Military Times and FoxNews.) It turns out the email was “premature” and inaccurate:
a group of midshipmen “with beliefs aligned with those practiced by The Satanic Temple”…had requested a space for a “study group” to discuss their satanic beliefs — and not, as the email in question indicated, for holding satanic religious services.
The problem, of course, is The Satanic Temple isn’t a religious group. It’s an anti-religious group. From their own webpage [emphasis added]:
DO YOU WORSHIP SATAN?
No, nor do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural. The Satanic Temple believes Read more
An article from the Nebraska National Guard details the story of US Army Chaplain (Maj) Tyler Wilterding:
Wilterding is a full-time Baptist pastor in Kearney, but in order to be effective in his mission of offering moral and spiritual support to Soldiers, he must be well versed in multiple religions and denominations including Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and more…
While the article on Wilterding emphasizes — to a fault — the “generally spiritual” mission of chaplains and the counseling they can provide, it is worth recognizing that Read more
San Diego recently held its annual “Pride” Parade celebrating variations of sexuality — the same one then-Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning rode in as Grand Marshal in 2016. As then, uniformed military members played a prominent role [emphasis added]:
To show opposition to the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender troops, this year’s military contingent decided to have active-duty trans service members march at the front of the parade.
“I am a transgender sailor myself,” said Elijah Riddle, who currently serves in the U.S. Navy.
Let’s see: Participating in a political protest in uniform, and Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and his research assistant, Chris Rodda, recently criticized the presence of military symbols on products sold by Shields of Strength, an online jewelry/accessory store that sells various religious and patriotic-themed items, including some with Bible verses. (While Weinstein has claimed he never acts without a complaint from a member of the military, this complaint appears to have been generated by a FoxNews article and nothing more.) The duo took specific aim at the SoS line of dog tags, which combine Bible verses with the emblems of the US Armed Forces. From Chris Rodda [emphasis added]:
The problem? The use of official Armed Forces emblems and logos on blatantly religious items like these dog tags is not only an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion, but also violates the Department of Defense’s regulation on what items can and cannot be licensed to contain the official DoD emblems and logos.
The first accusation is laughable. No one thinks the government is establishing or endorsing a religion because a private company produces dog tags with Bible verses on them. The reference to Read more