The US military has just updated its regulations with the intent of improving the protection of military religious freedom.
Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1300.17 was previously known as “Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services,” but is now re-titled simply “Religious Liberty in the Military Services” (PDF). The new DoDI title sets the tone for a policy that presupposes religious liberty, rather than treats it as an outlier that may sometimes be “accommodated.”
That change in tone mimics the tone change in religious liberty policies in the Air Force – which may not be a coincidence. The new DoDI was approved by Undersecretary of Defense Matthew Donovan – a former Air Force fighter pilot who has been both an Undersecretary of the Air Force and even the Acting Secretary of the Air Force in the past few years, during which the tenor (if not always the actions) of Air Force policy leaned toward religious freedom.
It seems President Trump’s selection of Undersecretary Donovan may have set the stage for improving religious liberty in the US military.
As to the DoDI itself, it notably Read more
There’s nothing “charitable” about Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s “charity” — the awkwardly named Military Religious Freedom Foundation. But, since it is categorized as 501(c)3, Weinstein must publicly file his organization’s tax form each year — though he manages to be almost two years behind. Weinstein has finally released the report for 2018 indicating his MRFF brought in about $720,000 that year, which is about the same as the previous year.
As in prior years, Weinstein’s largest expense was his own paycheck, though this year was a bit unique. Up front, he paid himself $296,393, but he also reported $72,000 in “other Read more
Various outlets have reported the US Navy reversed the “controversial” decision (highlighted here yesterday) to cancel contracts for civilian Catholic chaplains, which was reportedly done either as a cost-savings or because it didn’t serve the proper demographic, depending on who you asked.
The religious services will continue for at least the next year, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander Navy Region Southwest, said in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.
“Contrary to previous discussions, this year we will continue contracted religious ministry programs and services similar to what we’ve had in place previously,” Bolivar said. “We will also continue to assess how best to meet the needs of our sailors and their families throughout the region.”
The decision to axe the civilian chaplain contracts was criticized by Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese that encompasses the military service.
The Navy’s actions had even caught the attention of their Commander-in-Chief, with President Trump tweeting about the reversal: Read more
Various news outlets covered the US Navy’s decision not to renew the contracts of civilian chaplains who were filling critical billets in the military chaplaincy:
The Navy has declined to renew contracts with Catholic priests in a supposed “cost-cutting” move, leaving bases without enough chaplains to keep services going…
The San Diego Tribune’s headline was somewhat misleading, as “other religious services continue” because most of the contract chaplains are Catholics, so the “other religious services” will continue to be served by active duty military chaplains.
Part of the Navy’s reasoning, according to Vice Admiral Yancey Lindsey, was that chaplain contracts were ended
at bases where those services are readily available in the surrounding community outside the base.
Such reasoning is dangerous toward Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently celebrated the fact the US Marine Corps acceded to his demands in only “64 minutes” and canceled the scheduled presentation of Jay Lorenzen, a retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. The presentation was to be on the Gettysburg battlefield. Weinstein’s criticism of Lorenzen was stark, as described by his research assistant Chris Rodda:
Last night when an email came in to MRFF from a Marine Reserve JAG, reporting that 120 Marine Reserve JAGs were to be required to virtually attend a “battle-study” training of Gettysburg tomorrow led by a Jay Lorenzen, the name was very familiar to us at MRFF as a staff member of none other than Campus Crusade for Christ.
One look at the website for Lorenzen’s “High Ground at Gettysburg” training confirmed that the JAG’s concerns that this was to be a Christian proselytizing event were well founded.
Or, as Weinstein put it (in his characteristic poor grammar and ellipses flair): Read more
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issued a memorandum that, according to one news outlet, “effectively” banned the Confederate flag — without saying so:
The new guidance governs the display and depiction of flags on military installations, and while the policy does not specifically mention the Confederate battle flag, it is not listed among the flags permitted to be displayed…
“The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols,” Esper added.
Critics of the flag are celebrating — but don’t seem to realize the guidance bans the LGBT or “gay pride” flag, as well. Members of the US military have flown the rainbow/gay pride flag in Afghanistan and around the world on US military installations, and US troops have even stood in formation under it.
Though potentially unintentional, if you’re going to have a “neutral” policy toward flags (another question altogether), then it should “effectively” ban the gay pride flag. Waving a flag that celebrates a particular Read more
Yesterday, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett chaired the first meeting of the Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion – a recent creation of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper explicitly in response to the death of George Floyd. In that meeting, Secretary Barrett used some direct – if somewhat unspecific – language [emphasis added]:
Diversity is more than tolerance. Genuine diversity generates acceptance. This Board’s mandate is to move forward with alacrity and positively transform the Defense Department for today’s service members and for generations to come.
Alacrity notwithstanding, her statement begs the question: What does she mean by “acceptance” that is more than tolerance?
For context, consider that Read more
LtCol Jonathan “Flood” Kassebaum, commander of the 125th Operation Support Squadron at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, Florida, flew an F-15 Eagle last week – eight months after nearly being electrocuted in his backyard.
Kassebaum was severely injured while working on a project in the backyard of his family home. He remained lifeless for nearly 12 minutes after the electrocution and was placed in a medically induced coma.
In his civilian life, Kassebaum is the Lead Pastor of the Crossing Church, and he told his story at the Read more