Noted last year when she began training, 1Lt Saleha Jabeen has now graduated the chaplain’s course and has become the first female Muslim chaplain in the entire US military:
The graduation ceremony for BCC Class 21A was a historic event as the Air Force aims to foster a more diverse and inclusive service…
“I did not have to compromise on any of my religious beliefs or convictions,” Jabeen said. “I am surrounded with people who respect me and are willing to receive what I bring to the table as a woman, a faith leader, and an immigrant.”
Jabeen’s entrance into the military as a chaplain is Read more
The US Senate confirmed Biden appointee — and former Obama Chief of Staff — Denis McDonough as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Monday.
A relatively unnoticed office for most of the US public, the VA Secretary has, like so many positions, become increasingly political and controversial. Robert Wilkie, the previous VA Secretary under President Trump, made waves when the VA decided to put the VA motto on plaques at 142 VA cemeteries last summer. This wouldn’t seem like a big deal, except the VA motto is a quote from a speech made by President Abraham Lincoln: Read more
President Joe Biden’s reversal of the military ban on transgenders hadn’t even been announced for minutes before it claimed its first controversy.
US Army Chaplain (MAJ) Andrew Calvert posted a comment on the Army Times Facebook page discussing Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s support for repeal. As quoted by the Army Times in a follow-up story, Chaplain Calvert said
“How is rejecting reality (biology) not evidence that a person is mentally unfit (ill), and thus making that person unqualified to serve,” Andrew Calvert posted on the Army Times Facebook page Monday. “There is little difference in this than over those who believe and argue for a ‘flat earth,’ despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary…
“The motivation is different,” Calvert continued, “but the argument is the same. This person is a MedBoard for Mental Wellness waiting to happen. What a waste of military resources and funding!”
First of all, it used to be a standard talking point in training Read more
With the airwaves and mainstream media clogged with politics and other drama, issues of religious freedom in the US military largely fell to the wayside these past few months. The reason is that most (not all, but certainly most) military religious freedom issues begin as attacks from outside the military. With an inattentive public, those who would attack the religious liberty of US troops for their personal benefit haven’t been able to gain public traction – or have simply chosen not to, given the low monetary return they would see for their efforts.
Thus, organizations like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have been either silent or largely ignored these past few months. (Mikey Weinstein’s Facebook page has been entertaining, as he’s been paying to promote otherwise ignored posts only to have the comments filled with “Who is this guy?” and “Why is this #$%$ on my feed!?!”)
With a new administration, there will certainly be changes that Read more
What began as a powerful and effective ministry to US troops in southern California (highlighted here last year) has now begun to spread. Soul Survivor Outdoor, which seeks to minister to US troops by providing “soul care,” has expanded to Texas, where it recently served the troops at Fort Hood following a redeployment. As reported in an official Army release:
Chaplain Karen Moore, battalion chaplain for 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment…organized for members of her battalion to participate and interact with SSO. She also helped assist sister battalion, 1st battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, become involved with the program as well.
In the end, 55 US troops participated in Read more
Most people know by now that the US now has a “Space Force” along with its Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Much ado has been made about many very serious issues in that force, like what to call the Servicemembers in that force (Space men? Space cadets?) and whether their new seal looks too much like Star Trek and not enough like Battlestar Gallactica.
Another issue in the background has been the Space Force hymn. The Force doesn’t have one yet, but officials have noted that a song is a Service tradition, much like its uniform and rank structure.
Apparently, one song has already been offered – and it immediately stirred controversy with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The song was written by a former Air Force officer named James Linzey, who was an Air Force and Army chaplain. (Linzey has an interesting history as well, as he was Read more
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