Military Religious Freedom Foundation still fighting the good fight
Mr. Weinstein met last Tuesday with the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the first time the group has gotten an audience with a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Mr. Weinstein said of the meeting with General Schwartz that “the thing I found encouraging is that not only did he take it very seriously, but he also acknowledged that there is a problem, which is always a first step.”
It would be really, really nice if Obama's policy of asking faith-based groups to help set the agenda didn't extend to allowing them to force religion on soldiers in the military:
David Horn, a former fighter pilot in the Air Force Reserve, is among those who have sought the [MRFF's] help. He tells of returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and, like Specialist Chalker, hearing prayers “in Jesus’ name” at homecoming ceremonies. He was so bothered, he said in an interview, that he wrote a letter to his local newspaper complaining about what he called the “unconstitutional” intrusion of religion in military life.
Four days later, Mr. Horn said, he received a negative evaluation — after years of positive appraisals — and ultimately lost his flying certification and his post. With his flying career in jeopardy, he plans to join the lawsuit against the Pentagon.
Signs of continued friction over the issue still abound, however. In a memorandum distributed last month at the Air Force Academy in response to several recent complaints about religious bias, base leaders reminded faculty members that “the Air Force is ‘officially neutral’ when it comes to belief systems.” The memorandum said cadets should not be made to feel that they would get better jobs by going to optional Bible study sessions.
Still, some military personnel and activists opposed to what they see as “forced religion” in the military said they believed the problem had continued largely unabated, and they said private groups like the Officers’ Christian Fellowship and the Campus Crusade for Christ’s Military Ministry maintained an outsized influence on many bases.
“The Army enforces policies against racism and sexism, but doesn’t bat an eye at these kinds of religious discrimination,” said Specialist Dustin Chalker, an Army medic based at Fort Detrick, in Maryland, who was raised in a Christian home but is now an atheist. “Why is it acceptable that soldiers are unable to serve this nation without attending state-led religious practices they find offensive and false?”
Specialist Chalker asks a good question, yes?
Specialist Chalker is now a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that accuses the military of ignoring laws and policies banning mandatory religious practices. Specialist Chalker, who earned a Purple Heart in Iraq, remembers returning from the war in 2007 and attending a mandatory ceremony that began and ended with a Christian prayer. The experience, Specialist Chalker said, was “humiliating and dehumanizing.”