One of the roles of a military chaplain is to advise commanders on the religious rules and rights of both the commanders and their subordinates. Retired Air Force Chaplain Norris Burkes recently tried to capitalize (again) on his military career by publishing an awkwardly worded article in which he admitted giving bad advice.
Burkes told the story in prose:
“What’s this about, Chaplain?” asked the USAF squadron commander.
“It’s the fish, sir.”
“Yes sir,” I said, pointing Read more
In 2012, then-US Army Major Ray Bradley complained that he was a humanist but was unable to put “humanist” in his military records as his “religion” in his military records (and reflected on his dog tags).
In 2014, the US Army added “humanist” to the list of faith codes.
In a new memo dated 27 March 2017 (PDF), the DoD Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs published a change that established standardized DoD-wide faith codes across the force — including “Humanist.”
For his part, Bradley had originally envisioned the recognition as the first step to achieving “lay leader” status as a humanist (with humanist “chaplain” to follow). That’s the same conclusion for which Jason Torpy pined when his MAAF reported on this new memo.
Kimberly Winston of the Religion News Service — sitting Read more
A US Army Private recently related how the pagan community at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, helped him find his way:
I graduated [training] a few weeks ago and only got to attend one gathering, It was a great experience…I was raised in an environment always surrounded in crystals and meditation, energy and magics, Reiki and healing, spirits and the like, but no words to put to what I knew…
It wasn’t until I went to the circle at Fort Jackson that I could definitively say I’m a white magic practitioner and hold pagan beliefs as far as karmic law and universal ties and energy go…
HeatStreet recently published a blog on the Fort Jackson pagan circle, which it claims now Read more
Apparently believing US Air Force Chief of Chaplains Gen Dondi Costin’s head needs to go on a pole, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has continued to demand the US military punish the men and women who appeared in uniform at a chaplains’ event in July.
Weinstein recently received a statement (PDF) from the DoD Inspector General in response to his initial complaint [emphasis added]:
The Air Force IG found no prima facie evidence that Maj Gen Costin endorsed CARL [the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty] by appearing in uniform and performing the benediction, thereby implying Air Force sponsorship of CARL or sanction of a particular cause, or discrediting the Armed Forces…
We [the DoD IG] also concluded Maj Gen Costin’s attendance and benediction did not violate Department of Defense or Air Force standards on endorsement of or participation with a non-federal entity, uniform wear, public speaking, or free exercise of religion.
That covered all the bases, DoD and Air Force, uniform wear to religion — even the US Constitution. Pretty thorough, right?
Since Chaplain Costin wasn’t punished, it still wasn’t good enough for Weinstein, of course, whose Read more
One of the oldest and most well-known non-traditional religious groups in the US military is the pagan group on the US Army post at Fort Hood, Texas. In 1999, George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and soon to be US President, famously criticized the US military’s openness toward wiccan practices at Fort Hood.
The “Fort Hood Open Circle” entered the news again recently when Michele Morris, the group’s self-described clergy and Designated Faith Group Leader (DFGL), posted an “open letter” on Facebook decrying their mistreatment in the face of “privilege” (which she clarified as “Christian privilege” in another interview) [emphasis added]:
My congregation was locked out of their church last night. It wasn’t the first time, or the second, in fact – I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened over the last six years…Last night was three hours outside, an entire congregation milling around, angry, scared, frustrated, defeated, and discouraged…
The last six years…have been a dizzying roller coaster of harassment and neglect relieved by brief moments of support and underpinned by the soul killer that we proudly call “tolerance”.
Morris went on to list a veritable bevy of grievances. It was unclear at Read more
For the past few years, a few US Air Force Academy cadets have been attending annual wiccan festivals and the “Denver Witches Ball” (shown above) — trips that were paid for by the USAFA Chapel Tithes and Offerings Fund.
In itself, that wouldn’t be too unusual. For several years there has been an “earth centered” pagan/witch group as part of the USAFA chapel community. It is not unusual for the chapel to fund retreats or similar trips for religious events through the congregants’ tithes. The CTOF is supposed to be funded by the donations of the participants of those religious services, which would mean the pagans were essentially paying their own way to the cauldron.
The unusual thing about these witch trips, though, is that the USAFA pagan chapel doesn’t appear to have any congregant “tithes.”
Documents obtained by Judicial Watch (PDF) show Read more
A Nevada National Guard article marked the 10th anniversary of the crash of Mustang 22, a CH-47 that was shot down in Afghanistan in 2005. (The article was written on the anniversary in September, though published only recently.)
Last autumn marked the 10th anniversary since the Nevada National Guard lost two Soldiers in the worst helicopter accident in Nevada Guard history. Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Flynn and Sgt. Patrick Stewart were killed on Sept. 25, 2005, when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter, Mustang 22, was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade while flying over Afghanistan…
Flynn and Stewart were the second and third Read more
As noted at Military.com, the Air Force Equal Opportunity office at Joint Base Andrews dismissed the EO complaint from contractor Deborah Schoenfeld, the self-described Hindu-interested-in-Wicca (whose complaint was previously discussed):
The office on Oct. 27 dismissed her complaint, saying she filed too late and also because the individuals she claimed discriminated against her “are not Air Force employees.”
Schoenfeld disputes the filing deadline issue, but it appears to be moot if the subjects of the complaint weren’t even in the Air Force. Schoenfeld disputes that, too, saying Read more