Monday, December 29, 2014

Uncertainty Continues On Religious Expression In the Military

Stars and Stripes yesterday reports at length on the ambiguity in the military's current policy on expression of religious speech that is illustrated by a mandatory suicide prevention briefing last month for soldiers at Ft. Benning. At the session, a chaplain, Capt. Joe Lawhorn, told members of a Ranger battalion that faith in Jesus is what helped him through depression, though he also presented non-religious methods of combating suicide. Handouts to soldiers were a sheet which on one side gave secular suicide prevention tips, and on the other presented Christianity as the solution. According to Stars and Stripes:
After the incident was publicized by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers advocacy group, Fort Benning’s command warned the chaplain to cool the religious content in mandatory briefings.
In response, Lawhorn’s attorney, Michael Berry — of the Liberty Institute, a competing advocacy group — cited the wording in the [military's] new policy in a letter demanding that the Army explicitly approve religious content in the chaplain’s briefings.