This year issues of military religious freedom have boiled to the surface in two primary ways: free exercise and public expression.
For example, in its “top ten” list for 2018, The Baptist Joint Committee, a left-leaning group on religious liberty issues, highlighted the Masterpiece Cakeshop at #8 and the Bladensburg Peace Cross at #7. Similarly, Howard Friedman at the Religion Clause put Masterpiece Cakeshop at #1. The resolution of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which is arguably still ongoing, is directly related to the military: The case will ultimately Read more
Until this summer, Col Martin “Marty” France was the Head of the Department of Astronautics at the US Air Force Academy, and he had been for some years. As a permanent professor he was allowed to maintain his rank and his position — and then retire with a promotion, as a Brigadier General.
Nine days after he retired, one of BGen (retired) France’s first acts as a civilian was publicly joining Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF.
In fact, it seems he isn’t ashamed of admitting he was in the tank for Mikey all along, even while he served on the USAFA faculty Read more
Update: Now widely covered at various sites, though they don’t name US Army Soldier Austin Harasti.
The Army Times reports that a Soldier at the 14th Military Police Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, has been granted a religious accommodation to wear a beard — because he is a “Norse pagan.” From Col Curtis Shroeder’s memo to the 795th Military Police Battalion Soldier [emphasis added]:
“In observance of your Heathen; Norse Pagan faith, you may wear a beard, in accordance with Army uniform and grooming standards for soldiers with approved religious accommodations.”
Interestingly, there is no tenet of “Norse pagan faith” that requires a beard, as a heathen-advocacy site pointed out. As quoted in the article:
According to the Open Halls Project, an advocacy group for heathens serving in the military, the beard is a beloved tradition, but not a requirement.
“There is no religious requirement for beards in Heathenry,” according to a 2017 post about beards. “…We, as Heathens, have no such religious requirement with regards to hair.”
In essence, this is the same as a Christian seeking a waiver for a beard because Jesus had one. That said, Army policy is to, by default, grant the accommodation so long as Read more
Mikey Weinstein’s hate-filled attacks manage to unite Christians, pagans
A few days ago, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein launched a tirade of accusations that US Soldiers at Fort Gordon, Georgia, had been “force marched” to a chapel event and required to listen to Gospel music and a call for conversion to Christianity [capitalization original]:
Large numbers of very junior enlisted soldiers — presently undergoing the rigors of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at your installation — were ORDERED by their Army superiors to form up from their barracks and MANDATORILY marched over, in formation, to one of the Fort Gordon chapels and FORCED to participate in an elaborate, Fort Gordon-sponsored and produced Christian proselytizing program…
As a now VERY convenient, Army-ordered, captive audience, your young U.S. Army soldiers were INVOLUNTARILY inundated with loud Christian rock music and INVOLUNTARILY prayed over by an all-too enthusiastic Protestant/Christian Army chaplain…trying his level best to get them to accept and surrender to his version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
(Weinstein’s letter carefully said “Army Read more
A US Army Private recently related how the pagan community at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, helped him find his way:
I graduated [training] a few weeks ago and only got to attend one gathering, It was a great experience…I was raised in an environment always surrounded in crystals and meditation, energy and magics, Reiki and healing, spirits and the like, but no words to put to what I knew…
It wasn’t until I went to the circle at Fort Jackson that I could definitively say I’m a white magic practitioner and hold pagan beliefs as far as karmic law and universal ties and energy go…
HeatStreet recently published a blog on the Fort Jackson pagan circle, which it claims now Read more
US Army Reserve Chaplain Christopher Antal submitted his resignation “in protest” in April due, according to Antal, to the American policies regarding drones, nuclear weapons, and “preventive war, permanent military supremacy and global power projection.”
Antal publicly submitted his letter directly to his Commander-in-Chief, President Obama.
Reached for comment, the Army somewhat subtly said Antal had submitted his resignation, but Read more
How many people thought after the US invaded Iraq in 2003 that we’d still be celebrating Easter in Baghdad in 2016?
In Iraq, chaplains and their support teams used air and ground support to provide Easter services for troops throughout the country, including the location formerly known as Fire Base Bell — the small outpost attacked a little more than a week prior.
The Easter sunrise service was just one of five religious services held at Union III and one of many services across the CJFLCC-OIR area of operations in celebration of the holiday.
A few official news sources have begun to document this year’s other celebrations of Easter by US military forces around the world.
Aboard the USS Nitze: Read more
One of the oldest and most well-known non-traditional religious groups in the US military is the pagan group on the US Army post at Fort Hood, Texas. In 1999, George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and soon to be US President, famously criticized the US military’s openness toward wiccan practices at Fort Hood.
The “Fort Hood Open Circle” entered the news again recently when Michele Morris, the group’s self-described clergy and Designated Faith Group Leader (DFGL), posted an “open letter” on Facebook decrying their mistreatment in the face of “privilege” (which she clarified as “Christian privilege” in another interview) [emphasis added]:
My congregation was locked out of their church last night. It wasn’t the first time, or the second, in fact – I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened over the last six years…Last night was three hours outside, an entire congregation milling around, angry, scared, frustrated, defeated, and discouraged…
The last six years…have been a dizzying roller coaster of harassment and neglect relieved by brief moments of support and underpinned by the soul killer that we proudly call “tolerance”.
Morris went on to list a veritable bevy of grievances. It was unclear at Read more