The US military often gets accused of promoting or endorsing religion — particularly when it has the gall to associate religion with the uniform. The vast majority of the time, such complaints are baseless, as the mere presence of religious content and the military context does not constitute anything impermissible. In fact, it is often virtually required.
One religious practice that gets a pass is yoga. A product of eastern religions — which military articles on the topic sometimes, but not always, avoid — the military proudly publishes articles on Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines endorsing the practice.
And the same people who complain about associations between Christians and the military seem to have no problem associating Buddha and the military.
A recent article documents US Air Force Master Sergeant Kathleen Myhre’s 30-day journey to India to become a certified yoga instructor. Now, MSgt Myhre occupies a space in the Airman and Family Readiness Center, where she evangelizes those who enter on the value of her ‘spiritual’ endeavors: Read more
Noting the US Department of Health and Human Services had designated September National Yoga Month, the Air Force published an article in which paid fitness instructors sang the praises if yoga for members of the US military:
Harold Cherry, [Joint Base San Antonio] yoga instructor [said] “They’ll [trainees] do a lot better job after that morning class,” Cherry, who retired after working 22 years in the Air Force and 18 years in civil service, said. “Everything about you will feel good. You’ll feel good about being around people, so the mission is going to come easier.”
Yoga remains the odd standout in the debates over church-state separation, as “liberals” tend to 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
Update: In a letter to the MRFF, Deborah Schoenfeld publicly confirmed she was a government contractor, which means the US military was not responsible for her hiring or firing, despite Mikey Weinstein’s implications to the contrary. Weinstein’s public excoriation of the military — as opposed to her actual former employer — appears to have been little more than a publicity stunt, using “witch” references for shock value and attention.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has come to the defense of Deborah Schoenfeld, a civilian dental technician at Fort Meade who claims she was fired after filing an Equal Opportunity complaint claiming religious discrimination:
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is representing a former Air Force contractor who says she was fired from a dental clinic at Fort Meade, Maryland, after complaining that her co-workers discriminated against her because she was Hindu. She claims they then accused her of being a witch.
In his public complaint, Weinstein says Read more
An official DoD article describes the voluntary use of yoga at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for its psychiatry patients:
It appears centuries-old practice involving postures, stretches, meditation and breathing provides benefits today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center…
The author may not realize it, but by acknowledging yoga as “ancient” the DoD is acceding to yoga’s spiritual elements, as only in recent years have some tried to disconnect the physical aspect of yoga from its spiritual side. On the contrary, it seems Walter Reed is counting on the “mental” side of yoga as well: Read more
The Department of Defense announced that “Soul-dier Boot Camp” was brought to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, as part of Armed Forces Entertainment:
Soul-dier Boot Camp is a yoga-inspired, high-intensity, interval cardio class designed to get participants to a high cardiovascular level and then bring them down with a calming, athletic, yoga course.
In the evening, the team entertained with comedy: Read more
The chaplaincy program at Fort Meade is offering local Soldiers an alternative to the ever-popular yoga for those who feel yoga is inconsistent with their Christian faith. “Wholyfit” combines mechanics similar to yoga and tai chi with Christian devotion:
Combining physical fitness, Scripture memorization, worship and prayer, Wholyfit offers a Christian alternative to traditional yoga… Read more
Any article that starts with “retired male supermodel” and touches on peace and religion is bound to draw some kind of attention. From the Wall Street Journal, no less:
Retired male supermodel Cameron Alborzian sat down with Maj. Gen. Phil Jones at the U.S.-led coalition headquarters in Kabul this past summer to discuss a novel way to persuade Afghan insurgents to lay down arms.
Apparently Alborzian, who was once associated with Madonna’s music videos, has bent the ear of American and British Generals in Afghanistan with his suggestion that everyone should just meditate together, and everything would be ok: Read more