Increasingly, each one of us in our different organizations and capacities have been getting confidential calls and other reports and information from members of the military pointing to this growing hostility toward religious freedom. Unfortunately, members of the military cannot speak out about these things.
This is just a sampling of the cases that have been made public.
– Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Representatives from 14 groups joined three US Congressmen to release a report on “The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military” (PDF) and press for passage of legislation allowing US military servicemembers to act and speak on their faith: Read more
For years Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has had the friendly ear of the media. His comments have often gone unchallenged and his credibility — including his motivations and background — have been ignored. The recent dust-up over his meeting at the Pentagon has undone that, thanks in part to Weinstein’s consistent “over the top” behavior. The Get Religion blog, which frequently covers issues of the media and religion, notes that Weinstein is
a player in this story….and some greater journalistic scrutiny of [his] rhetoric…is in order.
That scrutiny seems to be happening. Last week the focus was on military policies; this week, Michael Weinstein himself has been hammered from all corners for his history of vitriol and hate — and virtually every article uses his own words to drive home the point, with little need to elaborate. The question remaining is, again, why he merited a meeting with senior military leaders.
The Colorado Springs Gazette — hometown paper to the US Air Force Academy — reprinted an editorial from the Washington Examiner questioning the “strange alliance” the Air Force has with Weinstein: Read more
Religious groups who endorse US military chaplains have asked the US military for “equal time” after they hosted religious liberty critic Michael Weinstein at the Pentagon. Said retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews, of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty:
Crews says if the Air Force wants to be serious about religious liberty, its sole and exclusive meeting should not be with a man who calls religious service members “spiritual rapists” or “human monsters.”
“[Mikey Weinstein] is not the person to talk about religious liberty,” he states. “So we’re asking for a meeting with senior Air Force officials to [request that] if they’re going to revise their policy, we want to make sure that the religious liberty of all the airmen who are serving courageously in the Air Force gets maintained.”
If the Air Force wants to be serious about religious freedom, its sole and exclusive meeting should not be with a man that calls religious service members ‘spiritual rapists’ or ‘human monsters’…
The military — specifically, the Air Force — has long been accused of granting Michael Weinstein special access to military leaders. It seems Weinstein has had ideological allies at the top of the US Air Force, which may be why he has Read more
In another setback for Michael Weinstein’s vitriolic assaults on religious freedom in the US military, the Department of Defense issued a clarifying statement (full text below) disavowing Weinstein’s characterizations and accusations.
It did so in a unique way, however:
Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).
(The DoD statement would presumably override the one from the Air Force the day prior, saying troops couldn’t share their faith if it made others “uncomfortable.”)
It’s an awkward turn of semantics, since most dictionaries don’t define “proselytizing” as being “unwanted” or “intrusive” (its a neutral term “to convert”). Over the past few years, the term has been so often associated with “coercion” it has come to have a negative connotation. (Weinstein’s research assistant, Chris Rodda, actually agrees the Read more
The US Army has received a string of criticism in the days since it was revealed a Reserve Army EO officer included evangelical Christians and Catholics (as well as all of Sunni Islam) in “religious extremism.”
FoxNews reports 12 members of Congress have called on the Army to apologize and “provide a balanced briefing on religious extremism.” (See Congressman Lamborn’s letter to the Secretary of the Army.)
Similarly, another Army email released to FoxNews included copied text from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “anti-gay intelligence file” mocking the “Christian Right” and its “opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians.” The author, an Army LtCol, said
just want to ensure everyone is somewhat educated on some of the groups out there that do not share our Army Values.
“Some of the groups” in the SPLC list included the Family Research Council (which has cited ChristianFighterPilot.com) and the American Family Association — two Christian groups villified by the SPLC for their opposition to the social normalization of homosexuality.
The inclusion of Christians and Christian beliefs in an Army email saying they don’t “share our Army values” actually contradicts Army values. The Department of Defense has Read more
Chuck Norris recently cited “36 examples of religious liberty assault” (in Part 1 and Part 2) to defend an assertion that religious liberty is under attack in America. About a third of his examples involved the US military, all of which have been discussed here before (amplifying remarks follow):
- Culture and courts are also trumping citizens’ First Amendment rights who are refusing on religious grounds not to support or participate with groups and events that run contrary to their faith and practice. As a result, wedding cake bakers, T-shirt makers, bed and breakfast owners, pastry shops, high-school teachers, military chaplains, restaurant owners, photographers, parents, churches and others have been harassed, bullied, suspended, fired and sued for merely exercising their Christian beliefs. [As described by CARL.]
- A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a cross displayed as part of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, Read more
If DADT repeal was such a benign ‘non-event,’ why are incidents like this erupting into scandals more than a year later?
The top lawyer in the US Marine Corps has reportedly told the Marine legal community that, to avoid “a stir” as seen at Fort Bragg, spouse groups operating on Marine installations must accept homosexuals:
The memo noted that spouses clubs and various other private institutions are allowed to operate on bases only if they adhere to a non-discrimination policy encompassing race, religion, gender, age, disability and national origin.
“We would interpret a spouses club’s decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex,” the memo said.
This appears to be legal advice within the legal community and, as noted before, military lawyers do not make decisions about military policy (nor are they always right). However, the article does not cite a Marine policymaker Read more
It’s the time of year for lists and summaries, and various sites and groups are compiling their “best of” and “mostest” lists for 2012. Consistent with last year’s apparent trend, issues of religion and the military seem to have largely fallen from the visibility they once had. For example, BJC online lists their “Top Religious Stories of 2012” — not one of which references the military. Likewise the Christian Post. The Religion Clause and the Stars and Stripes lists both made only one relevant reference, to the much delayed Fort Hood massacre trial.
Curious as to what others were reading here this year? The Top 10 most-read stories on ChristianFighterPilot.com for 2012 are Read more