Did you know that last Thursday, 16 January 2020, was Religious Freedom Day in the United States?
The Day commemorates Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom — written before the US Constitution — which says, among other things:
All men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities…
The rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind…
President Trump’s proclamation repeated the quote above and began with: Read more
The National Cathedral published a photograph of the “blessing of a Bible” to be used for swearing-in within the new Space Force. The ceremony was featured in the Washington Post. Pictured were Rev. Randolph Hollerith, the dean of the Washington National Cathedral, the Rev. Carl Wright of the Episcopal Church, and US Air Force Chief of Chaplains Chaplain (MajGen) Steven Schaick:
The gift they gave Chaplain Schaick was a King James Bible donated by The Museum of the Bible, which is in Washington, D.C., a few miles from the National Cathedral.
“Accept this Bible which we dedicate here today for the United States Space Force,” intones the Rev. Randolph Hollerith, dean of the National Cathedral, “that all may so diligently search your holy word and find in it the wisdom that leads to peace and salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.”
This was all too much for Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, who issued a “full-throated” response: Read more
In June, A1C Sunjit Rathour became the first Sikh to graduate US Air Force basic training at Lackland AFB while wearing his turban and beard. In September he was the first to graduate from the Security Forces course.
Similarly, Gurchetan Singh will soon go to basic training before he joins the 194th Air National Guard wing as a Sikh wearing the articles of his faith.
While the ability to exercise one’s faith is important to one’s own religious practice, A1C Rathour also explained why it can be important for others: Read more
Nevada Army National Guard Soldier SFC Benjamin Hopper has been granted a waiver allowing him to wear a beard — because he believes it is a “sacred and defining feature of masculine men” consistent Read more
The year 2020 looks to be a promising one, if the momentum of religious liberty in America can be maintained from 2019. The effect of the Trump Administration has been largely positive on religious liberty in the US military, though it has sometimes taken a bit of time for the “new” policy perspective — that is, the constitutional one — to trickle down to action officers.
Multiple websites noted that one of the highlights of church/state issues this year was the ruling on the Bladensburg Cross — a Supreme Court ruling that defended the right of the cross to continue to stand. While encouraging, particularly in that it wasn’t a “close” decision, it is notable that two Read more
In what amounts to a repeat of his prior attacks on Christians, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein last week published a release saying the MRFF “fervently denounces” the Christian group OCF performing “spiritual commissioning” ceremonies for new officers. Officers’ Christian Fellowship is one of several para-church organizations that ministers to the military — and one Weinstein seems to hold much animus toward.
Oddly, Weinstein declined to provide his own typically vociferous and alliterative quote, and instead deferred to an “anonymous” letter from a purported retired Army Colonel — who is also “on the membership rolls” of OCF. Referring to OCF’s Command magazine, which covered the commissioning, the Colonel
demand[ed] a retraction and full apology from OCF…Their old-guard OCF leadership will continue to push their radical agenda. Therefore, I ask that ALL COMMISSIONING sources, including all federal Service Academies and state ROTC universities, review Officer Christian Fellowship chapter local practices on their respective campuses…
To be clear, a retired O-6 — who said he had supported OCF both as a cadet and Academy faculty member — apparently lacked the intestinal fortitude to tell OCF his thoughts and instead “filed” a public complaint through the MRFF.
Beyond his hurt feelings, it’s not clear.
The complaint says Read more
President Trump recently called out the intolerance of the self-described “tolerant” [emphasis added]:
“Too often people in power preach diversity, while shunning or silencing the faithful,” Trump said. “True tolerance means respecting the rights of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs.”
As noted at the Religion Clause, a Federal District Court in Arizona found that a plaintiff did not have standing to sue over Flagstaff’s annual “Grand Menorah Lighting” held at the City Hall. It turns out the plaintiff, Jack Taylor, only even knew about it because he’d read about it in the paper. As quoted at the Religion Clause [emphasis added],
Plaintiff did not allege that he has had direct contact with the Grand Menorah Lighting at City Hall, or any other religious ceremony purportedly held in City Hall. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff’s contact with the Grand Menorah Lighting at City Hall has, at most, been via newspaper articles Read more