An Air Force Academy press release notes the service of Chaplain (Capt) Zebulon Beck, one of only nine active duty Air Force Mormon Chaplains, who will minister to “more than 100 Mormon cadets.”
An interesting part of the article is the reference to the “mandatory two-year mission” of Mormons:
As is the case with other Mormons of similar age, many cadets interrupt their studies for the mandatory two-year mission. Those who do so often come back changed people. Read more
The Alliance Defense Fund previously wrote a letter to President Obama in which 41 retired Chaplains, speaking freely since they are outside military service, opposed the repeal of the policy known as “Don’t ask, don’t tell” on religious freedom grounds.
Last Friday they added to that number, with 25 new signatories. As noted at the ADF,
The letter states, “By raising homosexual behavior to the same protected class as innate, innocuous characteristics like race and gender, the armed forces will cast the sincerely held religious beliefs of many chaplains and Service members as rank bigotry comparable to racism.”
The release of the letter nearly coincided with Read more
A firestorm erupted in the media last week when LtGen Thomas Bostick, a member of the “working group” on “Don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, was quoted in the Washington Times apparently equating religious opposition to homosexuality with bigotry and racism. From the Washington Times editorial “A New Gay Army:”
Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, the Army’s deputy chief of staff in charge of personnel matters who spoke about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before several hundred troops at the European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. “Unfortunately, we have a minority of service members who are still racists and bigoted and you will never be able to get rid of all of them,” Lt. Gen. Bostick said. “But these people opposing this new policy will need to get with the program, and if they can’t, they need to get out. No matter how much training and education of those in opposition, you’re always going to have those that oppose this on moral and religious grounds just like you still have racists today.”
The Times provided no source for their information. The US military subsequently released a statement in which Bostick denied making the quotes: Read more
An official Army press release notes that senior members of the American military participated in Islamic Iftars in Iraq, sharing meals that broke the Ramadan fast with Iraqi locals and military servicemembers. Leaders described the meals as an opportunity to display unity, understanding, and respect for Islam:
LtCol Mark Olds, the planner for one of the Iftars on Basra, said the dinners were an opportunity for US forces to show their unity with Iraq.
“We wanted to show our understanding and respect of Muslim traditions and practices by hosting an Iftar dinner for our Iraqi partners Read more
In an apparent effort to thwart conspiracy theorists, the US military has occasionally taken to publicizing what is obvious to the casual observer within the military. Over the past few years, for example, the military has posted a variety of news articles noting servicemembers of all faiths and no faith have the protected ability to exercise their ideologies even while serving.
Just this week, the Navy published an awkwardly-titled but sincerely-written piece from the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, “Members of Differing Faiths Peacefully Coexist on Navy Aircraft Carrier.” Obviously, members of different faiths peacefully coexist throughout the military, though some might allege otherwise without substantiation. The article offers a concise and fairly comprehensive coverage of the efforts by the US military to appropriately ensure the religious rights of its members: Read more
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has protested the tradition of evening prayers onboard US Navy ships, saying they
violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because military personnel are being coerced to participate in religious exercises…
These officially sanctioned prayers compel service members of varying beliefs and non-belief to listen to and participate in religious exercises…
While it purported to condemn all prayer, the FRFF intentionally highlighted Christianity, even citing the frequently-used and inaccurately attributed concept that
Jesus condemned as hypocrisy public prayer…
If nothing else, the FRFF appears to be intellectually consistent, since demanding an end to the prayers achieves their end of freedom “from” exposure to religious thought. On the other hand, such consistency is lacking for the MRFF, who also Read more
In an interesting perspective, Eugene Volokh writes an article on the “conflict” between the Koran-burning church in Florida and Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). To the point, he quotes Hooper saying:
Can you imagine what this will do to our image around the world…And the additional danger it will add whenever there is an American presence in Iraq or Afghanistan?
After going through several explanatory examples and analogies, Volokh draws an interesting conclusion:
In those situations, the mainstream group representative seems to be consciously using the threat of [others’] extremist violence to achieve his own ideological goals. And he also seems to be trying to blame the people who are exercising their rights for the violence that would supposedly ensue. This sort of political tactic does not reflect well on the mainstream group.
Separate from Koran burning and CAIR, Volokh’s perspective has an interesting application to religious freedom in the military. After all, Read more
According to Military.com, the small, controversial Westboro Baptist Church has joined the criticism of the planned Koran burnings in Florida, but not for the reason everyone else is. Their reason?
They did it first. And no one noticed.
It’s that in 2008 she and her father’s Topeka flock set fire to a Quran in plain view on a Washington, D.C., street and nobody seemed to care…
Westboro has even said if Jones doesn’t burn the Koran, they will. Elsewhere, there is an increasing chorus of “hypocrisy” accusations against US officials. The US government previously said it burned Bibles in Afghanistan; even at that time, there was a sense that
“if it had been the Quran, this never would have happened.”
Other news agencies picked up on the “unusual” Read more