“When Army leaders or other government officials fail to protect the rights of Sikh soldiers, Muslim prisoners and other religious minorities, they weaken the rights of everyone, [said Douglas Laycock, a distinguished professor of law at the University of Virginia.].
“Religious freedom is an all-or-nothing proposition. The arguments the government makes in cases about Sikhs and Muslims, and the judicial precedents it establishes when it wins, are fully available to use against Christians,” he said.
The same holds true in reverse, of course: The judicial Read more
For Kalsi, wearing his “religious uniform” with his military uniform provides him confidence as a soldier.
“I know that my faith makes me a better soldier,” the lieutenant colonel said. “It makes me stronger, it makes me more resilient and it sustains me in ways that I would have a hard time explaining.”
The Stars and Stripes recently noted a surge in waivers for observant Sikhs to serve in the US military while retaining the outward symbols of their faith:
Eight Sikh Army recruits have received waivers this year allowing them to maintain their religiously mandated beards and turbans in uniform, nearly doubling the number of observant Sikhs in the Army despite a decades-old policy barring visual symbols of faith.
The success of Sikh adherents publicly exercising their religious faith in uniform has befuddled Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — the self-proclaimed Read more
Military troops of faith — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and others — have long served in the US military. They have done so with honor and distinction, earning the highest accolades and making the highest sacrifices.
And former Army officer Sue Fulton thinks they shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the military at all.
As discussed by Sonny Hernandez, in an interview with the New York Times Fulton was aghast that military chaplains have the gall to claim their God is greater than their government — and they should therefore not be in the military:
Some chaplains argue: ‘My first responsibility is to God.’ Well, if your responsibility is to God and not the Army, you need to get out of the Army.
Hernandez accurately summarized Fulton’s intolerant and ultimately unconstitutional advocacy:
[When] Fulton argues that chaplains should get out of the military if God is first in their lives, she is establishing a religion over theirs…She is [saying] the Constitution only works one way, and that the Defense Department’s policy on pluralism is extended only to those with convictions are agreeable to hers.
Fulton’s declaration is utterly ridiculous — and bigoted. Millions of troops before Read more
Carl Forsling, a retired Marine MV-22 pilot, recently took to Task and Purpose to criticize the current Supreme Court appeal of court-martialed Marine LCpl Monifa Sterling. One part of Sterling’s case, as you’ll recall, centered on her decision to post a paraphrased Bible verse on her desk — which she was ordered to take down. Forsling opines:
Sterling worked in a customer-service job at an ID center, so people conducting their official business had to read the verse. This made effectively made something that was supposedly for her own personal inspiration into proselytization.
To quote Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word…” How does a posting a verse from Isaiah translate into an attempt to convert other people to a religion? In short, it doesn’t, but claiming that Read more
The US Army has changed its policies (PDF) to allow Sikhs, Muslims, and Jews to serve while wearing their religious accoutrements in uniform [emphasis added]:
Since 2009, religious accommodation requests requiring a waiver for uniform wear and grooming have largely fallen into one of three faith practices: the wear of a hijab; the wear of a beard; and the wear of a turban or under-turban/patka, with uncut beard and uncut hair. Based on the successful examples of Soldiers currently serving with these accommodations, I have determined that brigade-level commanders may approve requests for these accommodations…
Importantly, the policy specifically says the religious practice should be approved Read more
Just as in the past couple of years, issues of military religious freedom have generally been incorporated in larger societal issues in most groups’ “top ten” civil/religious liberty issues for the year.
For example, Howard Friedman at the Religion Clause noted the “transgender rights” stories at #3 without specifically mentioning the (substantial) military side to that story. That said, at #6 he included the “battle over religious displays” and specifically included “Latin crosses as part of veterans’ memorials”.
The Baptist Joint Committee, a politically left-leaning group, included the controversy over the Russell Amendment to the 2017 NDAA at #6. (The BJC opposed the proposed legislation.)
Some other notable but unmentioned events from the year include lawsuits filed and exemptions granted for Sikhs in the military, the national discussion over Bible verses posted by court-martialed Marine LCpl Monifa Sterling, or the Air Force reconsidering its policies after retired Air Force SMSgt Oscar Rodriguez was thrown out of a ceremony while reciting a religiously-tinged flag-folding script.
With that in mind, the most read articles from 2016 on ChristianFighterPilot.com Read more
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump was asked about the erosion of religious liberty in the US military. In October, his campaign provided the following response:
Religious freedom in the military is under attack, just as it is across our society. We ask our men and women in uniform to risk their lives for us, and the least we can do is fight every day for their right to worship freely and express their faith while in uniform. My Secretary of Defense will be a person who understands and respects our military’s tradition of religious tolerance and freedom, and who honors the service of our Chaplain Corps as I do.
My Defense Secretary and I will never treat religious expression, whether by a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Sikh or any other faith, as a threat; rather, we Read more
Despite claims by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter that tolerance is “a practical necessity” in the US military — and that nothing unrelated to someone’s qualifications should prevent them from serving — people who are prevented from serving for reasons other than sexuality aren’t reaping the fruits of that newfound practical “tolerance.”
Maj. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi was recently in the news — and at the Democratic National Convention — highlighting the continued fight for Sikhs to gain Read more