In an unusual step, the Army officer appointed to investigate a complaint against Chaplain (Major) Scott Squires and his assistant SSgt Kacie Griffin wrote a second, revised report released just last week (the original was reportedly issued months ago). The pair were accused of discriminating against a homosexual couple regarding a Strong Bonds marriage retreat to be led by Chaplain Squires.
It appears the new “do over” report was the result of First Liberty’s rebuttal in April, in which attorney and former US Marine JAG Mike Berry tore into the investigator’s reasoning and conclusions. It seems the new report was intended to defend against First Liberty’s legitimate concerns, including, for example, this admission from the investigator quietly placed in the new report [emphasis added]:
In my prior findings and recommendations memorandum, I stated that when CH Squires informed [redacted] of his restriction that this was a violation of EO policy. This was a misstatement of fact and law. It is not a violation of EO policy to state a fact and CH Squires is protected in doing so…
It wasn’t just a “misstatement” — it was a wholly Read more
People for the American Way, a politically left-wing/liberal organization, recently criticized a Family Research Council email that cited attacks on military religious freedom. PFAW’s complaint was that the stories FRC’s President Tony Perkins cited were, in their words, “easily debunked.”
As evidence, they linked to other online articles that did not debunk FRC’s stories.
For example, PFAW linked to an Americans United article that claimed Army Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn was not, in fact, sanctioned for discussion of his faith. But he indisputably was given paperwork for mentioning his faith, and the AU article doesn’t actually “debunk” the claim — it only criticizes the claim, without detracting from those facts.
PFAW similarly linked to another left-wing site that criticized Navy Chaplain Wes Modder, who was nearly run out of the Navy. The linked article cited the Navy commander’s initial accusations as fact — and neither that site nor PFAW bothered to mention that the Navy ultimately denied the attempt to kick Chaplain Modder out. In oversimplified terms, the complaint was invalidated. The linked article also quoted Read more
The US military is increasingly sensitive to associations with events that might be perceived as religious. While it strives to protect the free exercise rights of its members, it is also cognizant of criticisms of inappropriate interactions between a government institution and religion.
Few times is this more evident than near the end of the year, when the military struggles to support the religious celebrations of its members of varying religions. In general, there is little chance of offense between the varying religions that share holy days during this season. The greater possibility, in fact, is that critics of religion will be offended by the military’s support of military members’ religious celebrations.
The military’s handling of these events is not uniform, and there are no official policies on the support of public religious celebrations by military members. This has led to some interesting contrasts.
For example, military bases traditionally have displays during the “holiday” season, not unlike the White House’s National Christmas tree and Menorah. Searches for “Air Force Base” and “Christmas tree” show that, in the Air Force at least, there are still a great many military bases that do, in fact, light “Christmas” trees. However, expanding the search Read more