A few weeks ago, the Air Force Times solicited comments from its readers after noting the “improved religious climate” at the US Air Force Academy. They asked:
What do you think? Have you found the service and its members to be tolerant of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans and others who are not Christians?
It would appear, based on the most recent Air Force Times article, that the responses were largely positive. The article is entitled “Respect healthy for different faiths,” which seems to indicate a positive environment for “different faiths” within the Air Force.
Within the article, however, the author focuses on those who take issue with Christianity in the military, rather than the ‘healthy respect’ that is apparently evident. The article begins with the presumption of truth in claims that the culture of the Air Force causes an ‘assumption’ of Christianity:
A predominance of Christians in the Air Force creates an atmosphere that assumes all airmen are Christians, allowing prayers and other religious displays at everything from football games and holiday parties to commander’s calls and change-of-command ceremonies, according to non-Christian airmen interviewed by Air Force Times.
While there is a “predominance of Christians” in the United States and in its military, the presence of prayer is not inherently a Christian endeavor, and Read more
The Fort Hood report (pdf), authored at the request of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, is being widely circulated and read by a variety of pundits. As previously noted, many have already taken note that it calls for action against the officers who appear to have not followed standards when Hasan’s evaluations did not match his reported performance. Two other findings are also important to the relationship between religion and the military: a review of the policy on Chaplain endorsers, and a recommendation that the military define a “baseline” for religious conduct.
First, with regard to the officers who supervised US Army Maj Hasan: Read more
The “interim CEO” of the Stand Up America Project had much to say about the ability of a religious adherent to be a loyal citizen or member of the military:
There is no doubt that a devout [Christian] must proclaim the exclusivity of [Christ] or he is an apostate. Therefore, he must always be a [Christian] first, and that means he is not only unable, but also forbidden from acting in any other fashion. If he is in our military, he may take orders, and obey, but at some level, when the order runs afoul of [Christianity], he must revert to [Christianity] first.
Except, he didn’t exactly say that. Scott Winchell railed against Muslims in the long piece, ultimately saying Read more
As noted at a variety of sites, a Defense Department review has found that Army Maj Hasan’s superiors were routinely concerned about his performance and his views, but continued to promote him anyway. This seems to already confirm what has previously been said about Hasan: people knew and were concerned about him.
Between 2003 and 2007, Hasan’s supervisors expressed their concerns with him in memos, meeting notes and counseling sessions. He needed steady monitoring, especially in the emergency room, had difficulty communicating and working with colleagues, his attendance was spotty and he saw few patients.
The question that isn’t (officially) answered is why they didn’t do anything, though speculation has already arisen that people were afraid to say anything out of fear of being considered prejudiced against Islam.
The discussion in the article about officers being promoted despite poor performance Read more
The lawyer for accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan has said his client’s religious rights have been violated by policies that restrict his freedoms during his confinement in the hospital.
Pretrial restrictions on Hasan [include] a requirement that he speak only in English with visitors or on the phone, unless an Army-approved translator is present…
Attorney John P. Galligan said he learned that police guarding Hasan…cut short a phone conversation Hasan was having with one of his brothers on Friday because Hasan was not speaking in English.
“Police at the hospital refused to let him pray, in Arabic, from the Quran with his brother,” Galligan said. “I think it’s illegal and a violation of his religious rights.”
The article cites “those familiar with” military justice in saying that the restrictions, while potentially non-standard in the civilian sector, would not necessarily be unusual within the military criminal justice system.
Large institutions like the US military, in their haste to address scandals, are sometimes criticized for imposing policies that answer the accusations of critics rather than defending the virtues or protecting the freedoms of their members. (This was the case when the Air Force issued “Religious Guidelines” in 2005, for example.) Fort Hood, in its reaction to the recent massacre, may have made itself vulnerable to that accusation.
The Army Times reports that Fort Hood has “tightened” its firearm policy. Notably:
The policy [requiring personal weapons registration] also applies to soldiers living off post and civilian hunters if they plan to use a gun at Fort Hood.
Those who enter the post must tell guards if they have a weapon with them.
Post officials say they will increase enforcement and inspection, and those who don’t comply face penalties.
The “new policies” restrict gun-owning Soldiers without making any changes that would prevent another massacre.
While the changes were reportedly made in response to the Fort Hood massacre, Read more
The Alliance Defense Fund has been calling on the US military to charge Maj Nadil Malik Hasan with 14 murders, not 13.
Private Francheska Velez was three months pregnant when Hasan allegedly killed her and her unborn child. If her child was included, the massacre would have claimed 14 lives.
The ADF accurately notes that the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) reflects the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and specifically cites the death of unborn children Read more
Michael Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation have been repeatedly called out over the past few weeks for displaying an odious double standard: Weinstein has demanded various military Christians be court-martialed, accusing them of using their positions of power to proselytize and coercing subordinates based on their religion. He has failed to make any similar call against accused Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, even though Hasan has been accused of doing exactly the same things.
However, Michael Weinstein has finally asked, “Should Hasan be court-martialed?” Oddly, he never answers his own question.
To his credit, Weinstein does make a (qualified) statement that Hasan should have been court-martialed. That would be the most serious, if parsed, statement Weinstein has made against a person not of the Christian faith in the military. However, Read more