Pentagon issues decree in defense of religious freedom, a major blow to Military Religious Freedom Foundation

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(Photo : flickr.com) U.S. army chaplain conducting memorial service in Afghanistan.

The days of an atheist organization bossing around the U.S. military might be numbered, based on the extreme language they used in condemning a the Defense Department’s recent embrace of an executive order from President Donald Trump.

The DOD issued new guidance on Sept. 1 aimed at supporting President Donald Trump’s 2017 executive order on freedom of speech and religion. That is, military members’ expression of their religious beliefs – or even their lack thereof – must be protected and cannot be silenced by others claiming that expression of religion is unconstitutional.

This seems to have hit a nerve for Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which seeks to stamp out expressions of Christianity in the military on just these grounds.

Weinstein reacted with fury, using words like “ignoble,” “reprehensible,” “uber-conservative,” “sick,” “tortured,” and “preposterous.” 

As reported by christianitydaily.com, MRFF Founder Mikey Weinstein wrote, “In recent years, this 1993 Act has become the go-to law for fundamentalist Christian legal organizations in their ignoble and wholly reprehensible defense of completely unconstitutional promotions of uber-conservative Christianity in the United States armed forces. This law is the sick epitome of the right-wing Christians’ tortured view of the First Amendment’s religion clauses as creating only a one-way wall – in other words, that that the ‘Free Exercise’ clause of the First Amendment is THE only religion clause that matters, and that the other direction of the wall, the ‘No Establishment’ clause, simply doesn’t even exist. Such a preposterous position is utterly bereft of any semblance of Constitutional legality and allowance.”

The guidance, Instruction 1300.17, established “DoD policy in furtherance of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment” and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The policy would require Defense Department officials to “oversee the development and provision of education and training on the policies and procedures pertaining to the accommodation of religious practices of Service members” for higher ranking officers. 

Essentially, the directive would allow that “Service members have the right to observe the tenets of their religion or to observe no religion at all.” Additionally, it would prohibit service members from requiring chaplains to “perform any rite, ritual, or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain.”   The document also outlines the responsibilities of DoD officials in assuring that guidances are followed. 

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