The Liberty Institute recently published a 2014 edition of a 400-page report entitled “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America” (PDF). Sections I, II, and III are “attacks” in the public arena, schoolhouse, and against churches and other religious ministries, respectively.
For the first time, the report now includes a dedicated Section IV: “Attacks in the Military.”
Similar in theme to the “Clear and Present Danger” published by the Family Research Council, the Liberty Institute report includes a list of 46 incidents representative of the hostility toward religion within the US military [emphasis added]:
Hostility once unthinkable, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs telling grieving families as they arrive at their loved one’s funeral site that they may not have a religious funeral service, is becoming increasingly routine. Another line of hostility is a new wave of lawsuits attempting to eliminate all symbolism that touches on the numinous from our nation’s veterans memorials…
Religious freedom in the military is protected by the U.S. Constitution, Department Read more
Nearly 6 years after then-US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 14 and wounded more than 30 in the massacre at Fort Hood, those victims are finally to receive the medal awarded for being “wounded in action” against the enemy:
Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today that he has approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to victims of a 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas…
Hasan, motivated by his Islamic faith and reportedly Read more
The Pentagon recently hosted its annual iftar, the traditional breaking of the Ramadan fast by Muslims. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work noted the event allowed the Department of Defense to “honor” the Muslim faith:
In addition to recognizing and honoring the Muslim faith, tonight is also an opportunity to celebrate the importance of diversity and equality within the Department of Defense, and the values that make our Department strong – integrity, courage, dedication and respect.
Presumably, in the spirit of diversity, the DoD similarly honors the values of integrity, courage, etc, in the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and other religious faiths. To date, however, there do not appear to be any similar public Department of Defense statements about other religions.
The Pentagon Chaplain’s office hosted a Sikh event commemorating the Sikh festival Vaisakhi.
On Vaisakhi day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh summoned Sikhs from all over India to the city of Anandpur Sahib. At this gathering, the Guru called upon Sikhs to uphold their faith and preserve the Sikh religion…
Valarie Kaur, an activist and Sikh, provided remarks and republished them at The Huffington Post. Read more
Actually, this time, Weinstein didn’t threaten a lawsuit or demand a court-martial when a senior military leader seemed to endorse a non-Federal entity — because this time the non-Federal entity was his own MRFF.
In a letter thanking Michael “Mikey” Weinstein for providing a briefing to the “senior leadership of the New Mexico National Guard,” New Mexico Adjutant General BGen Andrew Salas gave what could be interpreted as an endorsement of Weinstein’s MRFF [emphasis added]:
When it comes to the special and deeply personal freedom of religious faith, leaders should consider the MRFF as a key resource in helping them guarantee the religious freedom all service-members [sic] are entitled to [sic]…
This [religious freedom] right is worth carefully considering, treasuring, safeguarding, and the MRFF is a tool that should be counted upon to help along the way.
Weinstein proudly publicized the letter, saying the BGen “prais[ed] the MRFF.”
Would that make Mikey Weinstein a hypocrite?
In 2007, Weinstein railed against several General officers who appeared 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
Update: The theme continued at the Air Force Times nearly three weeks later.
The US Navy recently announced (on its continuously updated DADT page) that it had coordinated with Japan to understand that “spouse” in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) would cover a “same-sex” couple. (Published at the Washington Post, repeated at Stars and Stripes.) As a result,
The Navy [said] in a notice to personnel that it had added Japan to its list of overseas assignments for same-sex couples…The Navy has made only Japan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, available
as overseas assignments for gay couples.
The specifics of that announcement were largely missed or simply viewed as another “victory” by homosexual advocacy groups, including the American Military Partner Association, which
described the Navy’s decision as “welcome news” but noted that the armed forces do not treat same-sex spouses equally at many duty stations abroad.
Oddly, neither the AMPA nor anyone else seems to have noted this “special treatment” for homosexuals in assignments was never supposed to happen.
The Pentagon’s DADT repeal report Read more