Tag Archives: Public Expression

Soldiers Practice Religion During Joint Exercise

Military members are free to participate in the religious acts that they choose.  At times, the military even encourages its servicemembers to learn more about religion.  Such experiences may include observing or even participating in religious events.

In India recently, US soldiers engaged in a joint exercise took the opportunity to participate in yoga.  Far from the more fitness-oriented experience in America, yoga is commonly associated with eastern religions practiced in India (where it is believed to have originated).

The benefits of cultural tolerance and understanding is Read more

Military Officers and Religious Ideology

As previously discussed, a civilian author recently criticized a military Chaplain for “expressing contempt” for the Constitution when he made “derogatory remarks about Islam:”

When a uniformed officer of the US military makes derogatory remarks about Islam, he’s violating [his] oath and expressing contempt of the First Amendment.

The comment was made by Jeff Sharlet, posting under the moniker Ishmael, on the Daily Kos website.  Sharlet is also the author of The Family, a book that purports to be an expose on a secretive and conspiratorial religious organization (the “Christian Mafia”) attempting to influence the US government.

The comment was in defense of Chris Rodda, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation researcher, when she criticized Camp David Chaplain (LtCdr) Carey Cash for his religious views.  Sharlet’s use of the word “derogatory” notwithstanding, is he right?  Can a religious leader of one faith in the military say nothing negative about another–even if such statements are consistent with the tenets of their faith?

The core question: Can a Chaplain (or any other military officer) espouse specific, even exclusive, religious ideology?

The shortest, most accurate answer: Read more

Christian Event “Coercive in a Subtle Way”

Recently, a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event was held at a local Florida high school under seemingly innocent and legal circumstances.  The initial news report simply described the event, in which hundreds of students gathered in the school’s bleachers in the evening to “celebrate their faith.”

However, the event has now been criticized by some who have said they were “uncomfortable” with it, despite the fact that it appears to have met all necessary restrictions and followed all rules concerning legality and Constitutionality.

Rabbi James H. Perman of the local Naples, Florida, community was a former Air Force Chaplain in Vietnam Read more

US, NATO Deny Burning Koran

Afghans recently protested an alleged incident in which ‘foreign soldiers’ burned a Quran during a raid.  NATO and US force representatives denied that any such incident occurred, instead calling it a Taliban rumor.

Perhaps more interesting were the actions the protestors took.  While a few Americans claim that US actions are convincing the Muslim world that Americans are on a Christian ‘crusade,’ the protestors repeated the more common accusation:  Read more

US Army Sikh Granted Religious Exemption

Update: A letter to the editor of the Stars and Stripes calls this a “bad decision,” saying other officers will have to “pick up the slack” when the Sikh soldier cannot be deployed due to his religious gear being incompatible with the chemical defense ensemble.

Earlier this year two Sikh medical students who had joined the US Army appealed the Army regulation that prevents them from wearing their articles of faith, including their beard, turban, and kirpan.  As discussed previously, a US appeals court had upheld the Army regulation.

The Sikh Coalition now reports that one of the physicians has been granted an exception to the uniform policy.  Notably, this is not the change in policy Read more

Can Military Officers Espouse Religious Ideology?

Understandably, it is sometimes difficult to accurately convey the complicated relationships that military members have with the government and religion.  Sometimes, people with the best intentions misstate the proper role of military members; sometimes, people do so authoritatively–and ignorantly.

Recently, a well-publicized civilian author said this:

When a uniformed officer of the US military makes derogatory remarks about Islam, he’s violating [his] oath and expressing contempt of the First Amendment.

(For context, the “uniformed officer” (who wasn’t actually in uniform at the time) was a Chaplain.)

Do you agree?

More to follow.

Update: See the discussion on this question here.

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