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Friday, April 10th, 2009

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AP Logo

Justice seeks dismissal of lawsuit
in Kan. alleging religious
discrimination in military

Friday, April 10, 2009

By John Hanna
Associated Press Writer

Government lawyers are seeking the dismissal of a federal lawsuit in Kansas alleging widespread religious discrimination within the military, arguing many of its claims are only "general grievances" and not wrongs against specific soldiers.

The Justice Department also contends a former Fort Riley soldier who joined the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in filing the lawsuit did not pursue his complaints aggressively enough with superiors first.

But Mikey Weinstein, president of the Albuquerque, N.M.-based foundation, said Friday that the government's response contains "nothing meritorious."

The lawsuit, filed last year in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., named Defense Secretary Robert Gates as the defendant. It alleges a pervasive bias within the military in favor of evangelical Christianity, even allowing its personnel to attempt to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read More...


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Group suing military seeks
top chaplain's ouster

Group already suing military over religion seeks
court martial of Army's chief of chaplains

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

By John Hanna
Associated Press Writer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A group with a federal lawsuit in Kansas alleging widespread religious discrimination within the military called Wednesday for the Army to court martial its chief of chaplains.

But a spokesman said the Army respects soldiers' right to worship freely "at all times and in all locations."

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation sought Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver's ouster on the day Carver designated for prayer and fasting for chaplains. It also was the start of Passover, observed with a ritual meal, or Seder, by Jews.

Foundation President Mikey Weinstein said his Albuquerque, N.M.-based group has received numerous complaints about Carver's proclamation in March calling for Wednesday's fasting and prayer.

The proclamation calls for chaplains to act "in keeping with your religious traditions." Carver later issued an addendum saying participation was voluntary and that he consulted with two senior Jewish chaplains.

Weinstein said Carver also has endorsed an effort to bring Bibles in Arabic and other languages into Iraq and Afghanistan, citing a quote from Carver posted on a ministry's Web site. Weinstein said such efforts clearly violate civilian and military law against trying to convert non-Christians.

Read More...


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4044 Pasadena Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95821
916) 488-7300
(916-488-7310 – FAX
www.churchimpact.org

Rev.Dr. Rick Schlosser,
Executive Director

Elizabeth Sholes
Director of Public Policy

Rev. Gail Benson
So/CA Health Care Director

African Methodist Episcopal
African Methodist Episcopal
     Zion
American Baptist
Armenian Church of the West
Christian Methodist Episcopal
Church of the Bretheren
Christian Church
     (Disciples of Christ)
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The Episcopal Church
Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church
     in America
Greek Orthodox
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International
Metropolitan Community
     Church
Moravian Church in America
National Baptist Convention
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Reformed Church in America
Swedenborgian Church
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
Church Women United
Orthodox Clergy Council

April 8, 2009

Hon. Eric Holder
Attorney General of the United States
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

RE: Complaint filed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Dear Attorney General Holder:

California Council of Churches IMPACT is the advocacy sister organization of the California Council of Churches. Our direct membership engages 5500 congregations and 1.5 million individuals, and we represent 21 denominations in the mainstream, progressive Protestant communities of faith with a combined membership of 6.5 million congregants in California.

A key tenet of our mission is preserving and protecting religious freedom for all people without exception. Over the past recent years,those of us in the mainstream faith community have watched as our own deep values and beliefs have been displaced and disrespected by a small but powerful group of people from the extreme religious conservative perspective. It has come to our attention over the last two years
that nowhere is that more true than within
our military.

Read More...


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Army chaplain criticized for
fasting call on Passover

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

By Karin Hamilton
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Army's top chaplain has come under fire from some Jews for issuing a call for a day of prayer and fasting that falls on the first day of Passover.

Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver, a Southern Baptist and Army Chief of Chaplains, had issued the prayer call in response to the rising suicide rates among soldiers. Last year, the Army reported the highest suicide rate since record-keeping began in 1980.

"I therefore call the Chaplaincy to a Day of Prayer and Fasting, in keeping with your religious traditions, to be observed on 8 April 2009 that the united cry of our Corps will be heard and answered regarding the protection, preservation, and peace for our Soldiers and Families," Carver said in his proclamation, which was issued March 2.

Carver told Baptist Press, his denomination's official news agency, that "April 8 is a Wednesday and prayer meeting night for Southern Baptists, so we really encourage not only Baptists but all local churches to pray for the military."

As chief of chaplains, however, Carver has oversight of Army chaplains of all faiths, including Jewish rabbis.

Read More...


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Air Force Probe Clears Colonel
in Religious E-Mail
Dissemination Case

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

By Jason Leopold

This story was updated Thursday afternoon based on a report stating that the Air Force concluded its investigation.

An Air Force investigation has found that a colonel who sent an e-mail to thousands of airmen in Europe directing them to visit a far-right, Catholic website, where President Barack Obama was compared to Adolf Hitler and the Antichrist, did not violate the military’s position on religious neutrality, according to a report published Thursday in Stars and Stripes.

In February, The Public Record broke the story about a Jan. 16 e-mail Air Force Col. Kimberly K. Toney, commander of the 501st Combat Support Wing at RAF Alconbury, sent to eight different Air Force installations in the United Kingdom and Norway which included the subject line: “Inspiration of the day - A Giant of a Man - Meet Nick Vujicic,” who was born without limbs.

“Every day, all around us, we meet people who make a difference in our lives,” said Col. Toney’s e-mail that directed personnel to the website 4marks.com. “Please take a few minutes to enjoy the attached video and meet a truly inspirational individual who will provide you with an opportunity to think about life and how we handle challenges in our personal and professional day-to-day lives. Keep doing the GREAT things you do and don't ever let the challenges get you down. Live, learn and enjoy! Thank you!”

Read More...


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Army Faces Backlash for Scheduling 'Day of Fast'
On Feast of Passover

Sunday, April 5, 2009

By Jason Leopold

The U.S. Army’s Chief of Chaplains was harshly criticized for being insensitive to other faiths by issuing a proclamation that calls on Army personnel and their families to participate in a "Day of Prayer and Fasting" on Wednesday, the first night of Passover, one of the highest holy days in the Jewish Calendar marked by a traditional feast called a Seder.

Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Carver, the Army's Chief of Chaplains, indicated that he did not consult a calendar before deciding to schedule April 8 as the "Day of Prayer and Fasting." He did say, however, that the date is linked to his Southern Baptist roots, even though his proclamation purports to be representative of all faiths.

In a March 31 interview with Baptist Press, Carver said, "April 8 is a Wednesday and prayer meeting night for Southern Baptists, so we really encourage not only Baptists but all local churches to pray for the military."

"One of the greatest things Southern Baptists can do is pray for our soldiers and their families," Carver said. "We've asked our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen to protect and defend our great land. They're encouraged when they know our local churches are praying for them."

Carver’s proclamation has already angered dozens of Jewish members of the Army who have lodged complaints with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a watchdog group that seeks to force the military to adhere to religious neutrality guidelines.

One Jewish member of the Army who received Carver's proclamation said it is “an insult to all Jews.”

Read More...


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Top Army chaplain raises Jewish ire with call for fasting during Passover

Monday, April 6, 2009

By Bob Allen

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- The Army's chief of chaplains is being criticized for a proclamation calling for prayer and fasting on April 8, which coincides with the first night of Passover.

The Jewish holiday -- one of the faith's most important -- traditionally involves a commemorative meal called a seder.

Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver, a Southern Baptist, issued a proclamation March 2 urging Army chaplains to pray and fast April 8 during a 120-day "stand down" period beginning Feb. 15 to focus on suicide-prevention awareness among soldiers.

"As spiritual leaders we are called to be a people of prayer," Carver explained in an Internet newsletter article. "One initiative that was proposed is that we employ the power of collective prayer more consistently in our efforts to combat suicide. I have issued a call to all members of our Corps to join with me on 8 April in leading the Army Family in a special day of prayer and fasting for the preservation, protection and peace of our Army. I have directed our Center for Spiritual Leadership at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School to provide resources to support you in your prayer effort."

Read More...


Dalas News.com Logo

Top Army chaplain upsets Jews by
calling for fasting during Passover

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

By Bob Allen senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.

Associated Baptist Press reported the story below:

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- The Army's chief of chaplains is being criticized for a proclamation calling for prayer and fasting on April 8, which coincides with the first night of Passover.

The Jewish holiday -- one of the faith's most important -- traditionally involves a commemorative meal called a seder.

Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver, a Southern Baptist, issued a proclamation March 2 urging Army chaplains to pray and fast April 8 during a 120-day "stand down" period beginning Feb. 15 to focus on suicide-prevention awareness among soldiers.

"As spiritual leaders we are called to be a people of prayer," Carver explained in an Internet newsletter article. "One initiative that was proposed is that we employ the power of collective prayer more consistently in our efforts to combat suicide. I have issued a call to all members of our Corps to join with me on 8 April in leading the Army Family in a special day of prayer and fasting for the preservation, protection and peace of our Army.. I have directed our Center for Spiritual Leadership at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School to provide resources to support you in your prayer effort."

Read More...


JTA Logo

Army chaplain chief calls
for Passover fast

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The U.S. Army's chief of chaplains called for a day of "prayer and fasting" on April 8, apparently not realizing that the date coincides with the first seder of Passover.

Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver, who is a Southern Baptist, issued a proclamation last month urging all Army chaplains to pray and fast April 8 during a 120-day "stand down" period which began Feb. 15 so that they could focus on suicide prevention awareness among soldiers, reports the Associated Baptist Press.

In an interview last week with Baptist Press, Carver said that he chose April 8 because it "is a Wednesday and prayer meeting night for Southern Baptists, so we really encourage not only Baptists but all local churches to pray for the military."

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation said it has received a number of complaints about Carver's proclamation. The organization believes that it violates the Constitution because it designates a specific day "for the observation of sectarian practices outside a particular spiritual tradition" and states that Carver has no authority to make such a proclamation.


R

In Formation

Published in the Feb/Mar 2009 edition of "In Formation"

A chaplain assistant, Master Sgt. Diane Watters writes about the upcoming move of the Wing Headquarters. Incredibly, she compares it to Moses, the Tabernacle, and the Christian Holy Spirit.

"I have been studying about the life of Moses and recently studied how the Israelites set up the tabernacle. I won't go into all of the details about the tabernacle, but I do want to tell you about the 'cloud' since I found the cloud to be very interesting and perfect for our upcoming Wing HQ move..."

..."The cloud was a gift to the Israelites that the Lord had given to them for protection from the hot and cold. This cloud is like the Christian Holy Spirit that we have available to us today. The cloud was a gift and the Holy Spirit is a gift that all human beings can receive. The Holy Spirit helps us to make decisions and enables us to know when we need to move just like the cloud did for the Israelites."

So in other words, the U.S. Air Force needs the Holy Spirit's help enabling them to move the Wing Headquarters?


MRFF In Box
MRFF's Inbox

April 3, 2009

Email to LTG Huntoon from Mikey

..General, I think you may be sorely mistaken in characterizing MRFF's manifest objections in this important matter---MRFF is raising extremely serious allegations about the Constitutionality and legality of this Chief of Chaplains' 2 March 09 "Proclamation of Prayer and Fasting" and most certainly NOT about the "propriety of the proclamation", as you have erroneously referred to it below. Sir, this is NOT a question of seemingly benign "propriety." By "renaming" the issue at hand from the very outset, it seems quite transparent that the Army is attempting to delegitimize, indeed trivialize, MRFF's valid Constitutional concerns.

....Let me make this perfectly clear, General: MRFF and its litigation team is completely uninterested in the Army's determination of mere "propriety" - on the other hand, MRFF is VERY passionately interested in the Army's willingness or unwillingness to protect, support and defend the Constitution. If you are going to base your "review" on the former instead of the latter basis, sir, please don't waste your time and simply pronounce the Army's Chief of Chaplain's actions NOW as fully compatible with "propriety". Lastly, I might inquire as to whether Chaplain I(Major General) Carver swore his oath to "propriety" or to the United States Constitution?!---------Mikey Weinstein

Response to Mikey

Mr. Weinstein,

Thank you for bringing to our attention your concerns about the Chief of
Chaplains' 2 March 2009, "Proclamation of Prayer and Fasting." You
raise several questions about the propriety of the proclamation and I
assure you that the Army will look into these concerns. I will close
the loop with you when our review is complete.

LTG Huntoon


April 5, 2009

Mikey,

"Proclamation of Prayer and Fasting"

The proclamation noted above, aside from MRFF's objections, is an insult all Jewish people including myself.

The first day of Passover begins at sundown on 8 April 09. A holiday celebrated with a traditional seder service and meal.

Asking Jewish members of the armed forces to fast on that day displays unconscionable arrogance by the Army Chief of Chaplains. In other words, chutzpah on a grand scale.

[name withheld]


April 5, 2009

Mikey,

I sent the following emails to my US Senators (Dodd and Liberman) and Representative (Chris Murphy).

On 2 March 2009, Douglas L. Carver, Chaplain (Major General) United States Army, Chief of Chaplains, issued a proclamation which stated, in part, “I therefore call the Chaplaincy to a Day of Prayer and Fasting on 8 April 2009---I hereby request that you invite your military chapels and religious communities to unite and participate in this solemn occasion”.

The Jewish Passover holiday begins at sundown on 8 April 2009. This is a religious holiday primarily honored by a seder service and dinner featuring traditionally specific foods.

Asking Jewish members of the United States Army to refrain from celebrating their own holiday by participating in an United States Army sponsored “Day of Prayer and Fasting” is a violation of freedom of religion, an attempt by Chaplain General Carver to violate the religious rights of members of the United States Army and an insult to the fine Jewish men and women who voluntarily serve their county in the United States Army and to all Jews including myself.

As my Senator I request you begin an investigation into Chaplain General Carver’s egregious and unlawful behavior. This kind of behavior cannot be ignored.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

[name withheld]


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