Chris Rodda has long been a “creative” writer, despite her sometimes claim to be an apparent amateur historian. While she has been quick to call out the errors of others with whom she disagrees, she ignores the errors of those who are on her side. She has also published a bevy of, to put it nicely, misleading writings. For someone so quick to call others “liars,” she has a very unique view of the truth.
With that in mind, Rodda published a blog yesterday with an attention-grabbing title:
National Defense Authorization Act to Include Military Training on How to Force Religion on Others.
Like much of what she writes, though, her title wasn’t true. (Most obviously, the NDAA hasn’t left either side of Congress yet, much less gone through conference committee or to the President. In other words, the NDAA doesn’t “include” anything yet.)
The short version of a long, meandering blog (Rodda has never been one for being succinct), is that Rodda is upset about Senate bill 4049, which was introduced in the Senate only a couple of weeks ago. Within it, the Senate requires the US military to conduct training on “Religious Accommodation” that must include:
- Federal statutes, DoD Instructions, Service regulations regarding religious liberty and accommodation for members of the Armed Forces
- The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
- Section 533 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
- Section 528 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016
Of that content, Rodda takes issue only with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The RFRA is fairly short, and it says the government cannot “substantially burden” exercise of religion, with some Read more
Noah Feldman, a columnist for Bloomberg and professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard, recently penned an article appealing for public support against Mississippi’s religious protection statutes [emphasis added]:
Signed in April, the Mississippi law calls itself the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” …
It should be held unconstitutional because it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment by singling out one set of religious beliefs for positive treatment.
To buttress his argument against “the danger of religious exemptions,” Feldman cited Goldman v Weinberger, the landmark case in which the US Supreme Court Read more
Update: Follow up on Harpal Singh and the status of Capt Singh’s case here.
The US Army has decided to permit three more Sikh adherents to attend Basic Training while maintaining the articles of their faith:
“After months of waiting, I’m ecstatic that I can finally serve both God and country,” Private Arjan Singh Ghotra, one of the plaintiffs, said…
Religious accommodations were also granted to Specialist Kanwar Singh [and]Specialist Harpal Singh.
While the exceptions are notable, they are still precisely that: exceptions. Thus, the US Army is still not officially more “friendly” to service by Sikhs, a point Read more
The US Army extended its religious accommodation of Capt Simratpal Singh, a Soldier who had decided to return to his Sikh practices and had sued after the Army tried to subject him to additional testing not required of other Soldiers.
The response from the Army (PDF) is intended to moot the suit. The accommodation allowing Singh to wear his religious accoutrements is open-ended, but it is heavily qualified with the Army’s caveats that it might remove the accommodation at any time. Perhaps more importantly: Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently published an anonymous, 3,000-word essay from a “senior officer” describing why MRFF “clients” always remain anonymous in their complaints against Christians and religion in the US military.
While the treatise is meant to provide justification for the “clients” in Weinstein’s anonymous attacks on Christians in the military, many people would likely agree with the general, neutral premise — highlighting oneself can negatively affect a military career. For example, Tony Carr blogging at John Q. Public and many others have become outlets for members of the military unwilling to name themselves out of fear for their careers. As Weinstein’s acolyte says:
One doesn’t need to commit a punishable offense…to derail a career and if I’m a commander judging a group of subordinates, I don’t even need to bother myself with the mountains of paperwork that would come with actually initiating disciplinary action against one of my junior officers…
Instead, I just can as easily kill the career of an unchosen one with sweet kindness and honesty…If you don’t have a complete, unbroken string of golden soccer trophies for every assignment and year of service, you’re done…
Again, the implication is not Read more
While many continue to focus on promoting “sexual liberty” within the US military — primarily open service by homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, etc-sexuals — few have come to the aid of Sikhs who want to serve in the US military. (Sikhs wanting to serve in the US military have received more press in India than the US.) Sikhs seek a waiver not for behavior, but for their religious beliefs. Kamal Singh Kalsi, a Sikh who obtained an exception to the uniform policy and was allowed to serve wearing a beard and turban, recently highlighted the inability of Sikhs to serve, as well as the increasing calls for the DoD to “fix” policies that prevent them from joining:
With the support of the advocacy group The Sikh Coalition, 105 members of the House of Representatives and 15 senators sent letters to the Department of Defense urging the U.S. armed forces to modernize appearance regulations so patriotic Sikh Americans can serve the country they love while abiding by their articles of faith.
The re-write earlier this year of religious accommodation regulations in the US military would presumably have made it easier for Sikhs to obtain an exception and join while wearing the accoutrements of their faith. However, Read more
The Deseret News carries its own commentary by Amy Choate-Nielsen on the recent changes to the DoD’s rules requiring religious accommodation. Interestingly, it uses two Jewish Soldiers as the central points of its article — even though the two have nothing to do with the policy changes:
For [Michael] Handman, the new NDAA law comes too late. Five years ago, the private was called derogatory names because of his faith, ordered to remove his yarmulke and rebuked for reading Jewish canon. Then, a few days after his letter home, on Sept. 24, 2008, Handman was lured into a laundry room and beaten to the point of unconsciousness, an Associated Press story says.
That story was discussed in detail here at the time. Retired US Read more
In a little noted message in April, the US Marine Corps quietly tweaked their uniform policies. One of the changes dealt with the wear of religious items.
According to the Marine Times,
According to the changes announced in Marine administrative message 207/13, signed April 17, Marines may now wear:
– Articles of religious apparel that are not visible or apparent when worn with the uniform.
– Visible articles of religious apparel with the uniform while attending or conducting religious services or while in a chapel or other house of worship.
– Visible articles of religious apparel with the uniform, but only with special approval.
The Marine Times staff writer, James Sanborn, was in awe Read more