In an interesting commentary during the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch, retired LtGen Jerry Boykin and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention spoke on recent issues of religious freedom in the military. Boykin reminded Christians there’s a correct response to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, one of the loudest (and most vitriolic) critics of Christianity: Read more
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Chuck Norris, a former Air Force Airman among other notable achievements, recently expressed disappointment at the Air Force’s decision to pull down a US Air Force Academy cadet’s Bible verse. He quotes and then agrees with retired General Jerry Boykin of the FRC, who noted
Once the academy allowed cadets to use these whiteboards for their personal use, censorship of religious commentary is unacceptable…
Norris then listed 10 examples of “prohibition of religious expression” in the military over the past few years, including USAFA’s Operation Christmas Child, Just War theory in ICBM training, the Camp Pendleton Cross, and the live Nativity in Bahrain.
He concluded the list with the perception that it gave him: Read more
Update 2: This story is now updated here.
Update: Many USAFA cadets are now openly taunting Mikey Weinstein by posting verses (and commentary) to their message boards:
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently erupted when he found out a cadet wrote a Bible verse on his message board in a USAFA hallway:
The text is Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
The labels indicate the room belongs to a 2° (junior) in Cadet Squadron 21.
Update: J.B. Wells wonders aloud if the DoD intentionally produced the policy to change the religious freedom focus to turbans and beards while keeping “liberal constituencies” like Michael Weinstein “at bay.”
There have been a wide variety of responses to the US military’s update to DODI 1300.17 (accommodating religious freedom), with language that seems to imply a more open attitude toward outward display and expression of religious belief.
The Pentagon reportedly decided to change its policy on religious wear after Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a Sikh, spoke at a Congressional briefing about the challenges American Sikhs face in the military earlier in January. Kalsi told members of Congress that he believes he can effectively serve his country while still maintaining his religious appearance, including an uncut beard and a turban.
While that may or may not have been a factor, the DoDI clearly includes language from both the 2013 and 2014 National Defense Authorization Acts — that is, requirements levied by Congress, not just reconsideration based on serving Soldiers.
The US Navy appeared to try to quell Read more
Pastor Steve Branson of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio, TX, reported that he recently held a meeting with a large group of members of the US Air Force to hear their worries over the Air Force’s treatment of their religious freedom.
At least 80 airmen attended a private meeting at the church where [Branson] heard them voice their concerns about religious hostilities at the Air Force base. It was a standing-room only crowd.
“The religious persecution is happening,” the pastor said. “It’s getting bigger every day.”
As to the improper conduct for which these Airmen claim they are being discriminated against [emphasis added]:
“A commander told him, ‘Don’t you understand discrimination – that your thought process is discrimination?’” Pastor Branson said.
Branson’s church in San Antonio, near Lackland Air Force Base, has Read more
A coalition of Christian leaders met with Air Force leadership and received assurances that they would investigate issues of religious liberty which do not “reflect Air Force policy:”
We appreciate [the Pentagon’s] offer to review decisions that do not reflect Air Force policy made by commanders at various bases. At their request, we will report future events and concerns directly to Air Force leadership.
Retired LtGen Jerry Boykin, retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews, Kellie Fiedorek of the ADF, and talk radio host Sandy Rios met with LtGen Richard Harding, Read more
FoxNews had a somewhat inflammatory title to its article, “Air Force cracking down on Christians,” in which columnist Todd Starnes noted the story of SMSgt Philip Monk, currently being investigated after filing a complaint of religious discrimination.
Lost in some of the controversy, though, was this near the end of the article [emphasis added]:
[Monk’s] not the only Christian at Lackland Air Force Base facing persecution for opposing gay marriage, according to Monk’s pastor.
Steve Branson is the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church, about five miles from the Air Force base. He tells me that as many as a half dozen of his church members are currently facing persecution…for their religious beliefs.
“Sgt. Monk is just the tip of the iceberg,” Read more
Update: The Air Force has reportedly declined to explain what regulations prohibit the chaplain’s column, which Liberty University School of Law fellow Ken Klukowski says “looks like expression protected by the free speech and religious freedom provisions of the First Amendment.”
A chaplain has been censored for expressing his beliefs about the role of faith in the lives of service members. There has to be a recognition that this is discrimination against Christians… When anti-Christian activists like Mikey Weinstein are dictating the rules for what chaplains are allowed to do, then we must ask the question why we [even] have chaplains.
– LtGen Jerry Boykin, USA, Ret
The US Air Force reportedly pulled down an official article written by a Chaplain because someone claimed to be offended by the title.
A chaplain at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska was ordered to remove a religious column he had written titled, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave all in World War II,” because it allegedly offended atheists serving on the Air Force base.
Col. Brian Duffy, the base commander told Fox News the column was removed “out of respect for those who considered its title offensive.”
The article notes that the column, written by Chaplain (LtCol) Kenneth Reyes, did not “attack or insult” anyone — it simply began with the question of the origin of the phrase. It seems a few critics didn’t read beyond the title, and criticized a caricature of what Chaplain Reyes wrote, such as atheist Jason Torpy, who makes a point of addressing the “no atheist” cliché wherever he finds it on the internet: Read more