It seems the US military can’t please those who criticize its tolerance of religion, no matter what it does.
Over the past week, the Air Force was hammered for bowing to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — again — and pulling down a Nativity next to the base Christmas tree.
One of the official Air Force positions was that because the Nativity was the “sole display,” it had to be taken down. Many who supported the MRFF’s position similarly claimed it would have been acceptable if other viewpoints had been included.
Those critics either missed or ignored the fact others were invited to participate — and chose not to.
Even when an Air Force Base goes out of its way to be inclusive of other displays, however, they still get taken to task.
A few weeks ago this site raised the open question about whether Menorahs would come out on military bases as part of a traditional “holiday season,” even though Hanukkah fell much earlier this year and would be over by the time most Christmas decorations came out.
It seems a pre-offended MRFF member was eagerly waiting for a Menorah to appear, and contacted the MRFF because a Menorah popped up at the Travis Air Force Base Christmas tree lighting on December 5th — the last day of Hanukkah, when the displays are normally removed, not lit.
Proving that even when the military is inclusive its not really inclusive, Rodda was ecstatic, saying in a little-noticed post [formatting original]: Read more
Some people claim there’s a “war on Christmas” when retailers substitute “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas.” While some customers or employees may take issue, the retailers’ choices of words probably have little impact on anything, including their bottom line.
By contrast, some atheists are actively working against “Christmas” in the US military — which has a direct and measurable impact on US troops, especially those stationed thousands of miles from the familiar celebrations of home.
As noted previously, the annual raising of “holiday” or “Christmas” trees and Menorahs has begun on US military installations around the world. The chapels of some bases also put up nativity scenes, as Travis AFB famously did last year.
The US military facility known as “Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain” has held an annual Christmas tree lighting for years. As part of that activity, carols have been sung, Santa has found his oversized chair, and excessive amounts of cookies and Christmas drinks have been consumed. In addition, the event has featured a “live nativity,” composed of base children and local animals. The event even included a photogenic camel.
Jason Torpy, a former Army captain and current atheist activist, considers “a Christmas tree, presents, some [non-Christian] songs, and even Santa Claus as trappings of secular Christmas.” The nativity, then, had to go. So an IG complaint was filed [emphasis Read more
A group of Congressmen has become the latest part of the government to take the US military to task for its apparent capitulation to external critics. In this case, 23 members of the House signed a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta concerning the removal of the DoD insignia from Holman Bibles, a “scandal” previously discussed. The Congressmen said the issue was not that the seals were removed, but the fact the action was taken only because Michael Weinstein was bothered by it:
“The problem here is that it appears the decision made by DoD was in response to a manufactured, frivolous complaint,” [Congressman Alan] Nunnelee said. “The military should not be succumbing to pressure from outside groups to alter longstanding policy.”
The letter does not demand that permission to use the seals be returned; it is three paragraphs of concern over why it appears the US military keeps “bowing” to Michael Weinstein: Read more
A federal district court has ruled that the City of Warren, Michigan, was within its rights to exclude an atheist display from its annual public Christmas display. In short, the court said the purpose of the atheist display was to be nothing more than a counter-display and its content could be disruptive.
[T]he Mayor sets forth permissible bases for denial—that the Sign was meant to counter the Nativity Scene, not celebrate the holiday season, and that the anti-religious language of the sign, in this context, could lead to a disruption of city business. There is nothing indicating the Mayor denied placement of the Sign solely in defense of religion; religion was simply not the appropriate subject-matter.
The case was Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. City of Warren, Michigan.
This is relevant to the military because atheists last year tried the same Read more
Kate Donovan posted text from interviews she conducted with atheists at the US Naval Academy as part of a series on atheists in the US military academies. The text is interesting as an overview of the midshipmen’s group, but what is fascinating is the mature perspective from some of the mids:
…the paperwork process is slow for all groups, regardless of whether people like our group or not…
…Although our group has not been “official” for this past year — it was due to the fact that all prospective ECA’s must submit paperwork for official review every year in April — no other opportunities are afforded, our group included.
We can host events, but just have to go through the same bureaucracy as everyone else on that…
The theme is consistent: The mids recognize they are subject to Read more
David Silverman is president of American Atheists — the same group behind the mocking atheist tag-along to the Travis AFB holiday displays. He recently told CBS that Denver Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow was “full of crap” for the public displays of his faith — most notably, Tebowing, which Jason Torpy seemed to think violated regulations when performed by members of the military.
one atheist group believes he’s doing it all for personal gain…
Silverman believes that Tebow is “full of crap” when he publically displays his Christianity on the football field and said his prayers are for publicity.
“It’s not that Tebow prays, it’s that he waits for the cameras to be on him to do it,” Silverman says. “He’s totally faking.” Read more
A variety of sites have noted the decision by Travis AFB to defend its nativity and Menorah. A few have noted the Travis AFB chaplains helped local atheist Airman SSgt Dan Rawlings erect an atheist display.
As more find out about it, more commenters are also questioning the Air Force’s decision to allow the atheist sign — not because of the sign itself, but the “flying spaghetti monster” on it [ellipses original]:
the flying spaghetti monster display is now up…mocking every belief out there. They had a great opportunity to be recognized and they turned it into a mockery. Sad, really. Great job staff sergeant…17 years without a complaint, you come along…complain, then mock everyone with your display. Isn’t that against military policies…to mock others?
As noted previously, even local non-religious people have said the atheists appear to be mocking their fellow Airmen Read more
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, led by Chaplain (Col, USA, Ret) Ron Crews, “commended” the Air Force for its decision to allow the nativity and Menorah to stand, despite complaints and threats from Michael Weinstein.
“Our military personnel should not be coerced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s political agenda,” said CH (COL) Ron Crews…
Chaplain Crews noted that Weinstein seems to have an unusual access to military leadership for a one-man ‘non-profit’ and called for a Congressional Read more