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Religious Speech in the Military: Freedoms and Limitations
Parameters (Army professional journal) ^ | 2/2012 | David E. Fitzkee

Posted on 02/22/2012 9:15:47 AM PST by darrellmaurina

(It's 14 pages long so these are only highlights): The freedom to speak and to freely exercise one’s religion are two central guarantees of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Military members retain these foundational rights, which the courts broadly protect. But there are characteristics of the military—including its rank structure and the need for good order and discipline essential to accomplishing the military’s crucial mission—that justify constraints on the religious speech of all military members beyond what would be constitutionally tolerable in the civilian context. Moreover, additional constraints are imposed on military leaders’ religious speech by virtue of their rank and position...

Ours is a military characterized by many kinds of diversity, including religious beliefs. Effective leaders leverage that diversity by bringing together the backgrounds, skills, perspectives, and talents of the members in a way that maximizes the unit’s ability to perform. Members whose religious rights and beliefs are not honored may feel alienated and marginalized...

Failure to understand the rights and limits concerning religious speech can adversely affect the mission in other important ways. It can result in internal investigations into allegations of violations or even lawsuits against the military, both of which entail substantial time, effort, and distraction from the mission. These investigations and lawsuits also may result in adverse media attention, which can undermine public confidence and support of the military. At its worst, failure to understand the parameters of permissible religious speech can jeopardize the United States’ strategic interests abroad, for example, by providing fodder for our enemies’ claims that we are engaged in a holy war against Islam. These lapses, occasioned by religious speech that exceeds permissible limits, can also harm the stature of leaders. Unfortunately, examples of these leadership lapses abound. This article aspires to help reduce the number of future examples

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Current Events; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: army; wot
I'm going to leave it to the lawyers to say whether this retired major and current Air Force law professor has correctly interpreted the state of military law. However, his recommendations for the future would have the effect of significant changes in longstanding practices (for example, a much smaller role for formal prayer at events) and quite possibly could have a chilling effect on religious activism by senior leaders.

This article needs significant attention by those in the military. If he's correctly read the current state of law as it pertains to religious freedom (and I think he probably is right), America **ALREADY** has a significant problem. But even if he's being overly cautious -- i.e., being a good lawyer trying to keep his client out of trouble -- he may be doing exactly what he's supposed to do. If so, it's our job as citizens to do something about the legal problems he's trying to protect our soldiers from facing.

This is also linked at Time Magazine's Battlefield online section here:

I post this because the comments are interesting, and are likely to light up with time.

1 posted on 02/22/2012 9:15:57 AM PST by darrellmaurina
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To: jagusafr


2 posted on 02/22/2012 9:25:50 AM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper

I’ve been dealing with this issue since I made O-6 (a number of years ago). My biggest issue (having not read the entire article) is the following:

“Members whose religious rights and beliefs are not honored may feel alienated and marginalized...”

A hackneyed phrase applies: Nobody can make you feel bad without your permission. I am an unabashed, sold out, born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. As an indivisible part of living out that promise, two things are required of me: to “go and make of all disciples”, but not on Uncle’s nickel (during duty hours), and to love my neighbor as myself, which means that no matter WHAT somebody else believes, I treat that person with respect and give him or her any appropriate opportunity to shine.

Short answer (I know: TOO LATE!) - I think that although the author may not have drunk the kool-ade completely, he’s based his arguments on the false premise that Christians in the military bully everybody else.

How ‘bout your thoughts?

Colonel, USAFR

3 posted on 02/22/2012 11:32:23 AM PST by jagusafr ("Write in Palin and prepare for war...")
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To: JRandomFreeper

I’m gonna tell my secretary it’s your fault that I’ve gotten sidetracked.

Last paragraph:

“Adherence to these principles will help leaders avoid violating the Constitution”

Bravo Sierra - adherence to his suggestions will show leaders as unwilling to stand for the principles on which this nation was founded and which undergird the Constitution. All they’ll avoid doing is running afoul of questionable Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution.


4 posted on 02/22/2012 11:41:27 AM PST by jagusafr ("Write in Palin and prepare for war...")
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To: jagusafr
From the E-6 point of view... last time I served, it was with a services flight in the reserves. The chaplain spent a LOT of time with us for some reason. Something about cooks, I suppose. ;)

We often prayed together as a unit during lunch breaks and after hours (if the chaplain was there).

It was never an issue, and maybe it was just the makeup of the flight (which wasn't racially or socially homogenous), but it was just never an issue.

I personally think the 'Integrity First' thing pretty much covers it. You don't have to put up with prostletyzing by superiors, and shouldn't do it to your troops.

That said, if a young airman came to me with a bad case of conscience, I would counsel them as able, and certainly refer them to the chaplain. Or refer the chaplain to them.


5 posted on 02/22/2012 11:46:47 AM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper

I personally think the ‘Integrity First’ thing pretty much covers it. You don’t have to put up with prostletyzing by superiors, and shouldn’t do it to your troops.

I don’t think there’s anything inconsistent in your position and mine. Have a great Air Force day!

6 posted on 02/22/2012 12:08:22 PM PST by jagusafr ("Write in Palin and prepare for war...")
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To: darrellmaurina
Religious Speech in the Military: Freedoms and Limitations

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7 posted on 02/22/2012 3:18:43 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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