Last week, the US Air Force quietly published an update to its uniform regulation, AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, which governs how Airmen are required to wear their uniforms. The new regulation included attachments that specifically covered turbans, hijabs, and beards for the first time. While AFI 36-2903 previously discussed “religious apparel,” this is the first time it was covered in such depth.
In addition, it prioritized accommodation Air Force wide. For example, previous versions often restricted accommodation — if it was even granted — to a single military installation.
The new regulation also lowers the level of approval required for some accommodations. For example, Wing Commanders (generally, the commander of the Air Force base) are authorized to approve
hijab, beard, turban or under-turban/patka, unshorn beards, unshorn hair, and indoor/outdoor head coverings.
Importantly, however, if the commander desires to disapprove that accommodation, the request has to be disapproved at AF Headquarters at Read more
Last Friday the MRFF made a rather shocking accusation, accusing a Navy installation of violating the US Constitution — for doing exactly what its founder, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, said they should do.
According to the press release picked up by the AP, US Navy Chaplain (Cmdr) Richard Clay Smothers sent an email out Naval Station Newport advertising an upcoming leadership series entitled “Lead Like Jesus.”
Marty France — a retired USAF BG who joined the MRFF board — decried the “violations” to
the base commander, [US Navy] Capt. Ian L. Johnson, urging him to “move quickly on this blatant violation of the Constitution (that we both swore to uphold) as well as DoD regulations.”
Remember, the email came from the chaplains, not any commander. Here’s the kicker: This is the quote from Mikey Weinstein just a couple of years ago:
“There’s no problem with this [religious campaign] if it’s done through the chaplain’s office,” Weinstein said.
That was a reference to Operation Christmas Child, but it Read more
The Air Force recently announced the commissioning of Saleha Jabeen as a chaplain candidate — which will make her the first female Muslim Chaplain when she completes her program. Jabeen was formerly an enlisted health care specialist in the US Army. Interestingly, Jabeen’s academic credentials come from North Park University (a private Christian school in Chicago), the Catholic Theological Union and Trinity Christian College. Air Force Chief of Chaplains Steven Schaick, who commissioned her in Chicago at the Catholic Theological Union, said
“Any time we advance religious freedoms, it’s a win for all persons of faith. The fact is America is a place where the Constitution guarantees your freedom to embrace or abstain from religious ideals, and the Chaplain Corps, which Jabeen just entered, exists to ensure every Airman has a religious freedom advocate. This is a big day not just for Muslims, but for persons of all faiths. I could not be more proud of our Air Force for being willing to commission and embrace the first female Imam in the Department of Defense.”
It’s an interesting thought. First, biased critics of the military chaplaincy are quick to Read more
Curtis Weinstein, third from left, during happier days.
On the Facebook page of the oddly-named Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Curtis Weinstein — a former Air Force officer and heir apparent to his father’s antipathy toward all things Christian — asserted that by not operating their stores on Sundays, the owners of Chick-Fil-A are “pushing their personal religious beliefs on their workers…and even their customers”:
[T]he main issue is that the owners are pushing their personal religious beliefs on their workers by forcing them to close during certain times/days and even their customers. I only seem to want Chick-Gil-A [sic] on a Sunday and can never get them, lol! Why can’t the owners pursue their beliefs without making them systemic within their business, this affecting everyone?
The accusation is inaccurate, of course. Truett Cathy said being closed on Sunday was his way of honoring the Lord; what their employees and customers choose to do is their own business, and outside Chick-Fil-A’s control. The fact the store is closed has no bearing whatsoever on the religious beliefs or exercise of their employees — except, perhaps, to free them up to actually practice their faith on Sunday, if they so choose. It is a “neutral” viewpoint, if you will.
Weinstein’s solution to his self-made problem isn’t clear. Presumably, the government needs to Read more
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