A US Air Force Air National Guard Chaplain recently wrote what became a surprisingly controversial commentary:
Although I haven’t written any books in my time, I often refer to a book that speaks to the subject of happiness. It’s called the Bible. The Bible tells us that 2,000 years ago, God sent his son Jesus into the world so that through his death on our behalf, we could have a personal relationship with him. Lest we forget, Christmas speaks of that birth and the happiness that came from that. Whether you share this belief or not, my wish for all of us is that no matter what religion you identify with, that we genuinely recognize that there is hope for happiness. It is important to remember that we are never alone, and that life eventually, and ultimately, will get better.
It was part of a commentary published by Chaplain (LtCol) Daniel Hornok in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, which is traditionally an emotional one for military members and their families. This is true of deployed servicemembers, certainly, but also for young troops who may be experiencing their first major holidays at a new base away from home. The Chaplain emphasized hope and the need to ‘look out for each other,’ an act that “may save a life.”
While the commentary of a Utah ANG Chaplain is probably not terribly widely read (with no offense intended to the Chaplain), and the topic (hope and support during the holidays) was one that is important to the military, it still managed to attract some negative Read more
An Associated Press article repeated at the local Gazette and other sources says of the US Air Force Academy:
Religious tolerance has improved dramatically since allegations five years ago that evangelical Christians harassed cadets who didn’t share their faith.
The article even quotes critic Michael Weinstein, who sued the Air Force for incidents at the Academy, agreeing with the assessment:
This is the first time we feel positive about things there.
While the initial complaints were that the Air Force was foisting Christianity on its cadets, the Air Force investigation instead determined that the situation was far simpler: cadets of minority faiths did not feel appropriately accommodated as was permissible under military regulations. Thus, the Air Force addressed Read more
As noted at the Air Force website, the top 3 US Air Force leaders distributed their 2009 holiday season greetings. They asked Airmen to “reflect on our blessings,” and expressed gratitude for deployed Airmen and fellow servicemembers serving in war. The leaders also specifically asked Air Force families to “reach out” to the familes of deployed servicemembers and single Airmen, and
welcome them into your holiday celebrations, in the spirit of giving and support that makes our greater Air Force family so special.
Ultimately, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz, and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy successfully transmitted a neutral note of goodwill for anything that happens to be going on during this specific time of year:
In all of the joyous ways that this holiday season is celebrated, we wish you and yours the very best–during this special time, and througout the New Year.
While admirably non-exclusive, the message is almost meaningless Read more
After the Fort Hood massacre, there were reports that people saw Maj Nidal Malik Hasan’s conduct that they did not report because they did not want to be viewed as biased against his faith or culture. Two recent news articles highlighted the contrast in reactions to those allegations.
The first encouraged people to report such conduct: a Congressman is proposing a law to extend “whistleblower” protection to people who make those reports.
The second proved such concerns about “political correctness” valid: a Muslim soldier has implied he was the recipient of inappropriate special attention by the military because of his faith or culture–the very perception Hasan’s peers remained silent to avoid.
First, Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, the Congressman from the district that includes Read more
Stars and Stripes penchant for finding religion in a story continues with its headline “Wing and a prayer.” The title is evidently a reference to the Islamic “cultural view” cited in the article:
The members of the air corps are “the cream of the cream of the crop” when it comes to the Afghan army, Rennell said. Still, an “inshallah” (God willing) mind-set dominates the ranks, a cultural view that clashes with the strict protocols required for operating highly technical aircraft.
While insha’allah is traditionally compared with the Southern Baptist “Lord willin’,” others have considered it more a statement of realism or fatalism. In what may be an urban legend based on stereotype, stories have been told about Islamic pilots Read more
US Army Chaplain (Capt) Matt Foley has an odd claim to fame. Yes, he is that “Matt Foley:” the Saturday Night Live motivational speaker played by Chris Farley. He and Farley played rugby together in college, and Farley would ultimately promise to use Foley’s name when he acted out the character.
A local news article relates Foley’s motivation and history in becoming a Catholic priest and military Chaplain. As has been noted before, there is a shortage of Catholic Chaplains in the US military, a problem that has Foley “FOB-hopping” around Afghanistan serving the needs of Catholic (and other) soldiers.
Foley’s reputation at Bagram is Read more
A legitimate question that all new members of the military (or those aspiring to be) have is to what degree they will be able to exercise their religious faith while in the service. Regardless of the service, the role of the US military corps of Chaplains is to ensure the troops’ access to free exercise of their religion, as well as act as a focal point for the protection of religious freedom within the military. Such freedoms are restricted only as necessary by the needs of the military mission.
While an occasional complaint makes the news implying that the military supports only a single religion, a veritable plethora of counterexamples undermine that claim. Recently, the Pulaski County Daily Read more
According to FoxNews, a Republican congressman has criticized the decision by the White House to send its traditional Christmas cards out–without any mention of Christmas. The Obama “holiday” card reportedly says:
May your family have
a joyous holiday season
and a new year blessed
with hope and happiness.
As if to prove that you can’t make everyone happy, former President Bush Read more