If one wasn’t aware of her history, it might have been surprising to see a recent pair of articles highlight the intellectually inconsistency of the MRFF’s Chris Rodda.
Rodda recently went on record defending the construction of the US Air Force Academy chapel facility called the “Falcon Circle” from those who claimed it was an inappropriate use of government money for three cadets (a separate issue discussed elsewhere). She said:
Designating the stone circle as a chapel facility simply accommodates a religious group with a worship area that meets their needs, something taken for granted by other religious groups at the Academy. Whether the users of that worship space number in the hundreds or in single digits is completely irrelevant when it comes to providing a place for them to worship according to their beliefs.
Comically, four days later an article appeared in the Tennessean quoting the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s 2009 criticism of the construction of a different chapel at Fort Campbell.
The [MRFF] felt it looked too much like a megachurch Read more
While Canada’s acceptance of homosexuality was occasionally held up as a contrast to their southern cousins in the United States, it seems Canada hasn’t worked out all the moral issues associated with “sexual freedom,” either.
In late November British Columbia’s superior trial court upheld Canada’s law banning polygamy and polyamory.
Interestingly, the court found that such prohibitions did violate the religious liberty of some groups — including some Mormons, Muslims, and Wiccans — but the law Read more
Update: More than 20,000 people signed a petition in less than 24 hours to “help end the ban” on Bibles at Walter Reed.
A US Army officer “in disbelief” forwarded a Walter Reed National Military Medical Center memorandum regarding patient visitation to the Family Research Council. The memorandum said:
f. No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.
The ban was so broadly written it would prevent even families from providing Bibles to their wounded family members, and it banned priests from bringing the eucharist or providing last rites. Notably, while the policy banned all religious items, the Bible was the only religious text specifically mentioned.
The FRC circulated the memorandum at Capitol Hill, and Rep Steve King (R-Iowa) took to the House floor and “blasted” the policy:
Mr. Speaker, these military men and women who are recovering at Walter Reed and Bethesda have given their all for America…They’ve Read more
A “pagan newswire collective” article on the religious environment in the US Air Force painted a picture of a tolerant, accepting, and respectful military treatment of even the most minority religions.
The pagan report is only the most recent outside observer to highlight the positive religious environment in the US Air Force. Starting at Lackland Air Force Base:
“Our airmen…should know that the Air Force has gone to great lengths to ensure their spirit was nurtured while in basic training,” says Rev. Tamie Rieth…, the Wicca Distinctive Faith Group Leader (DFGL) at Lackland for just over 6 years. Rev. Rieth is one of 5 instructors who lead the weekly Wiccan services for BMT trainees.
The article says 150 to 300 trainees attend the Sunday Read more
The Los Angeles Times is fast becoming a frequent commenter on all things military and religion, with the US Air Force Academy high on that list. In an unusual twist from the norm, its articles are biased toward the positive.
(For example, it published the original story about the baptism of US Marines to which Michael Weinstein objected, and most recently gave favorable coverage to the Camp Pendleton cross, now a controversy in its own right.)
In its most recent article on the topic, it notes the “Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans:”
“We’re here to accommodate all religions, period,” [USAFA Chaplain (Maj) Darren] Duncan says. The building of the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle on the hilltop, he says, is no different from the past conversion of chapel rooms into worship spaces that serve this year’s 11 Muslim, 16 Buddhist and 10 Hindu cadets. There are also 43 self-identified atheist cadets whose beliefs, or lack of them, Duncan says are also to be respected.
Never one to let good will go unspoilt, the article quotes Michael Weinstein as saying he Read more
The past month has seen a wide variety of articles from the US military showcasing its support of religious freedom — specifically, the accommodation of US military members celebrating Ramadan. Other articles have highlighted the US military’s “respect” for the Islamic holy month.
In Iraq, for example, an article describes the tenets of the Islamic faith and notes US General officers have been hosting nightly iftars, including General Lloyd Austin, commanding General of US Forces in Iraq:
To celebrate this very special religious month, various U.S. general officers have been hosting a post-dusk meal called an iftar…Iftar dinners are being hosted around the country as a way of showing support and appreciation to their Iraqi counterparts.
Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III [said] Read more
While many understand that Christian US military chapel services occur in locations throughout the world, some may not realize that a variety of minority faiths are represented as well.
This announcement from Balad highlights the Buddhist services beginning this month. In other locations, “earth based,” Hindu, and even atheist services are held to support the needs of local servicemembers.
The US military is made up of those of many faiths, and those faiths are practiced even within the military around the world.
Via the Buddhist Military Sangha and ArmyChaplaincy.com.
A Stars and Stripes article indicates US Army Chaplain (Capt) Pratima Dharm has become the first US military Hindu Chaplain. Dharm is a Chaplain at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Dharm did not enter as a Hindu Chaplain — she has simply changed endorsers. She was originally endorsed by the Pentecostal Church of God, but is now sent by Chinmaya Mission West. (In 2007 an Army Chaplain previously tried to convert to Wicca, but was discharged after he lost his endorsement and was unable to find an approved Wiccan endorsing agency.)
The article is unofficial, and doesn’t indicate what insignia Dharm now wears (only that she wore the Christian cross “until this year”). There is no official Hindu Chaplain emblem (at least not publicly), and public images still show Dharm wearing the cross.
Think someone will spin this as evidence of a Christian takeover of the military?