Religious liberty in the military

 

U.S. Army Capt. John Barkemeyer, a chaplain, conducts mass for Soldiers on a remote contingency operating base in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 20, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kieran Cuddihy) (Released)The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod may yet again be headed to the Supreme Court, at least to the extent of having filed an amicus brief in the case of a female Marine corporal who was given a bad-conduct discharge for refusing to take down a Bible verse in her workplace.  (“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” [Isaiah 54:17])  It remains to be seen if the court will take her case.

But there are other religious liberty issues in the military.  Some relate to chaplains being ordered to compromise their faith.  Many relate to LBGT issues.

The Synod is weighing in on some of these issues in various channels.  The Lutheran Reporter has a story on the problem and the church’s efforts. [Read more…]

Women will now serve in combat, all military jobs

The Defense Secretary has opened all combat units to women.  All branches of the military must now allow women to serve in any and all positions.  [Read more…]

Using our military to fight Ebola

Some 1,000 American troops have been sent to Africa to help in the fight against Ebola.  Plans are to send as many as 3,900.  As with others who care for Ebola patients, these military men and women risk catching the disease themselves.  And then they will come home.   So the Pentagon is requiring all troops that have been part of this mission to be put into a 21-day quarantine upon their return.

This is a commendable duty on the part of the servicemen and women who are risking their lives–as they do in so many other ways–to protect others.  And yet, is this a proper task for our military?  They are trained to fight human enemies, not viral ones.  I suppose many of those sent over have medical specialties, but still, this seems an odd use of our military might.  Is this a violation of vocation?  Also,  the danger to them and to those they return to is considerable.  Again, I honor these men and women, and I commend our country’s efforts to battle the disease in Africa, and maybe the military is the only manpower that can be easily accessed for the job.  But still. . . .What do you think? [Read more…]

Lateral military enlistments?

The pattern for enlisting in the military is to sign up in your 20’s, then, if you want to make a career of it, keep rising in the ranks until you retire after 20 or 30 years.  The military only hires people, as it were, at entry level positions.  But what if you could enlist when you are older?  What if you could could come into the service with a rank commensurate with your experience and expertise?  Renee J. Squier proposes this kind of “lateral enlistment.” [Read more…]

Air Force will now allow atheist oaths

We blogged about the atheist airman who was not allowed to re-enlist unless he could swear the military oath to protect the Constitution “so help me God.”  The Air Force has changed its policy to allow that part to be left out, a move being applauded by religious liberty groups. [Read more…]

Religious liberty for atheists, too

Enlisting or re-enlisting in a military service requires taking an oath, ending in the words “so help me God.”  An atheist airman trying to re-enlist in the Air Force has crossed out those words in the paperwork he is supposed to sign.  So the Air Force is not letting him re-enlist.

Lawsuits are in the works.  But does it make sense to require a person to swear in the name of a deity he does not believe in?  And doesn’t requiring a religious oath for military service constitute a “religious test” for public office, which the Constitution does not allow?  More to the point, in a time when the religious liberty of Christians is threatened more and more, don’t Christians need to support the religious liberty of everyone, including atheists? [Read more…]