In an unusual step, the Army officer appointed to investigate a complaint against Chaplain (Major) Scott Squires and his assistant SSgt Kacie Griffin wrote a second, revised report released just last week (the original was reportedly issued months ago). The pair were accused of discriminating against a homosexual couple regarding a Strong Bonds marriage retreat to be led by Chaplain Squires.
It appears the new “do over” report was the result of First Liberty’s rebuttal in April, in which attorney and former US Marine JAG Mike Berry tore into the investigator’s reasoning and conclusions. It seems the new report was intended to defend against First Liberty’s legitimate concerns, including, for example, this admission from the investigator quietly placed in the new report [emphasis added]:
In my prior findings and recommendations memorandum, I stated that when CH Squires informed [redacted] of his restriction that this was a violation of EO policy. This was a misstatement of fact and law. It is not a violation of EO policy to state a fact and CH Squires is protected in doing so…
It wasn’t just a “misstatement” — it was a wholly Read more
Most popular press covered the religious freedom portions of the controversies surrounding the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. Another interesting conversation, though, occurred with an official attempt by Congress to mandate atheist chaplains.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) offered the amendment to the [NDAA]. The amendment would have allowed humanists and other nonbelievers join the Chaplain Corps.
(The topic of atheist chaplains has come up many times before.) Polis said atheists were “denied” a “right” because they could not “confide in an adviser who is not a mental health professional.” The amendment was defeated, according to some reports, because it was “absurd.” (This was actually the second Read more
Update: The ACLU has likewise opposed the religious protections in the bill, which a local article called a “needed balance.”
The Congressional conference committee has sent the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) back to both houses of Congress for a vote. (It is reportedly expected to pass, and to be signed by President Obama.) The conference committee report includes expanded abortion coverage, a restriction on Guantanamo detainee transfers, and religious liberty protections for US troops. The religious liberty protection language is not precisely what the House had passed (as opposed to the Senate, which passed none), but it is substantially similar:
SEC. 533. PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AND CHAPLAINS OF SUCH MEMBERS.
(a) PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE.—
(1) ACCOMMODATION.—The Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs of a member of the armed forces reflecting the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member and, in so far as practicable, may not use such beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment.
(2) DISCIPLINARY OR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION.—
Nothing in paragraph (1) precludes disciplinary or administrative action for conduct that is proscribed by chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code (the Uniform Code of Military Justice), including actions and speech that threaten good order and discipline.
The committee explained the result of their negotiations this way: Read more
UPDATED 14 November 2008
When they say ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’ it’s slanderous…
As noted at the Stars and Stripes, the Secular Coalition for America held a news conference demanding new regulations to “protect young military members from…rampant religious discrimination in the services.”
In their press release, the Secular Coalition notes that one atheist military officer was “thwarted” in his attempt to lodge a complaint against a General officer who “opined that there were ‘no atheists in foxholes.'” The officer “contends this statement qualifies as unlawful discrimination under current Army regulations.”
As with some other complaints of religious issues in the military, the Coalition maintains that the perpetrators are Read more