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April 4, 2014 0

Coalition Promotes Expanded Religious Accommodation In The Military

On Jan­u­ary 22, 2014 the Depart­ment of Defense (DoD) pub­lished an updated and revised Instruc­tion 1300.17–Accommodation of Reli­gious Prac­tices Within the Mil­i­tary Ser­vicesThe new guid­ance, which describes pol­icy, pro­ce­dures, and respon­si­bil­i­ties for the accom­mo­da­tion of reli­gious prac­tices in the Armed Forces, was designed “to ensure the pro­tec­tion of rights of con­science of mem­bers of the Armed Forces.”  The updated guid­ance sought to strike the proper bal­ance between mil­i­tary readi­ness and reli­gious free­dom for ser­vice mem­bers.   But it fell short in not pro­vid­ing a suf­fi­cient accom­mo­da­tion for some fun­da­men­tal aspects of minor­ity reli­gious practice.  120407-M-KX613-023.jpg

For exam­ple, the guid­ance lays out a for­mal process so that Jew­ish and Sikh sol­diers may request an accom­mo­da­tion for their required head cov­er­ings (a kip­pah or a tur­ban) and incor­po­rates groom­ing stan­dards that pro­vide a path for approval for beards.   How­ever, each sol­dier must still request an indi­vid­ual, case-by-case accom­mo­da­tion under the guid­ance – a daunt­ing and stress­ful prospect for some, with an uncer­tain out­come.   In the name of “…main­tain­ing uni­form mil­i­tary groom­ing and appear­ance stan­dards,” the effect is to exclude some indi­vid­u­als who would oth­er­wise wel­come the oppor­tu­nity to serve their coun­try in the military.  

In Jan­u­ary, the House Armed Ser­vices Sub­com­mit­tee on Mil­i­tary Per­son­nel held hear­ings on reli­gious accom­mo­da­tions in the mil­i­tary. ADL, the Sikh Coali­tion, and the ACLU, (among oth­ers) raised this issue in their state­ments.  And Holly Holl­man, Gen­eral Coun­sel for the Bap­tist Joint Com­mit­tee on Reli­gious Lib­erty, artic­u­lately described  the del­i­cate bal­anc­ing act fac­ing the mil­i­tary in address­ing reli­gious lib­erty concerns. 

Impor­tantly, more than 100 Mem­bers of Con­gress have weighed in on reli­gious accom­mo­da­tion in the mil­i­tary in a let­ter to the Pen­ta­gon, coor­di­nated by Rep. Joseph Crow­ley (D-NY).   

And this week ADL, the Sikh Coali­tion, and the ACLU coor­di­nated a let­ter to the Pen­ta­gon from an unusu­ally broad coali­tion of twenty-one national groups with real reli­gious lib­erty cre­den­tials and sub­ject mat­ter exper­tise.  The inter­faith coali­tion let­ter stated that the cur­rent guid­ance “need­lessly infringe on the rights of these reli­giously obser­vant ser­vice mem­bers and prospec­tive ser­vice mem­bers” and urged the Pen­ta­gon to fine-tune the Instruc­tion to bet­ter accom­mo­date reli­gious practices. 

The same com­mand struc­ture that pro­vides unique pres­sure to con­form within the mil­i­tary – and poten­tial for inap­pro­pri­ate pros­e­ly­tiz­ing and reli­gious coer­cion – also makes the direct involve­ment of the Pentagon’s lead­er­ship in pro­mot­ing effec­tive, uni­form guid­ance and solu­tions to this prob­lem crit­i­cally important. 

The sig­na­to­ries to the coali­tion let­ter are: 

Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, Amer­i­can Jew­ish Com­mit­tee (AJC). Amer­i­cans United for Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State, Anti-Defamation League, Bap­tist Joint Com­mit­tee for Reli­gious Lib­erty, Becket Fund for Reli­gious Lib­erty, Chap­lain Alliance for Reli­gious Lib­erty, Chris­t­ian Legal Soci­ety, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Epis­co­pal Church, Forum on the Mil­i­tary Chap­laincy, Gen­eral Con­fer­ence of Seventh-day Adven­tists, Inter­faith Alliance, Mus­lim Advo­cates, National Coun­cil of Jew­ish Women, Sikh Amer­i­can Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion Fund (SALDEF), Sikh Coali­tion, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Together (SAALT), United Methodist Church, Gen­eral Board of Church and Soci­ety, Union of Ortho­dox Jew­ish Con­gre­ga­tions of Amer­ica, Union for Reform Judaism

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April 3, 2014 0

FAIR Advisory Board Member Does Radio Interview on Anti-Semitic Website

frosty-wooldridge

Frosty Wooldrige

On Tues­day, March 25, Frosty Wooldridge, an anti-immigrant activist and advi­sory board mem­ber for the extreme anti-immigrant group Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), appeared on “The Jeff Rense Pro­gram,” a conspiracy-oriented Inter­net radio show. Rense broad­casts his show on his noto­ri­ously anti-Semitic web­site, which pro­motes a wide vari­ety of con­spir­acy the­o­ries, from UFO reports to sup­posed envi­ron­men­tal threats to alleged Jew­ish con­trol of the world.

The March appear­ance is Wooldridge’s lat­est on the show, with Rense wel­com­ing him back and describ­ing him as a “friend” and “great patriot.” Though Rense and Wooldridge were sched­uled to speak about the issue of grow­ing green­house gasses, both men also voiced anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Early in the pro­gram Rense blamed immi­gra­tion for “the degra­da­tion of the iden­tity of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.” Wooldridge claimed Mus­lims are “destroy­ing” Lon­don and called Bel­gium “Bel­gis­tan.” He also pre­dicted “at some point Detroit is going to go Shariah Law” and said Mus­lims are “lit­er­ally tak­ing over” the state of Michi­gan. Wooldridge also asserted, “There are twenty-two known jihad train­ing camps in America.”

Rense’s web­site con­tains a large archive with hun­dreds of arti­cles penned by Wooldridge. The web­site also con­tains archives for the radio shows of anti-Semite David Duke and extrem­ist Don Black, the founder of Storm­front, the most pop­u­lar Inter­net forum for anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and other white suprema­cists. The Rense web­site also links to the writ­ings of a num­ber of other anti-Semites such as Ted Pike, founder of the National Prayer Net­work and Holo­caust denier Ernst Zun­del.

Wooldridge, who is also a senior writ­ing fel­low for the Santa Barbara-based anti-immigrant group Cal­i­for­ni­ans for Pop­u­la­tion Sta­bi­liza­tion (CAPS), is the lat­est anti-immigrant fig­ure to appear on  “The Jeff Rense Pro­gram.” Accord­ing to the show’s, archives, Roy Beck, the founder of the anti-immigrant group Num­ber­sUSA and Glenn Spencer, founder of the anti-Hispanic hate group Amer­i­can Bor­der Patrol also appeared on the show in the past.

These are not the only exam­ples of anti-immigrant activists appear­ing on extrem­ist venues. In Decem­ber 2013, David North,  a fel­low with the anti-immigrant group Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies (CIS) appeared on “The Real­ist Report,” an Inter­net radio show hosted by the vir­u­lent anti-Semite and Holo­caust denier, John Friend.

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April 3, 2014 0

Houston Terror Suspect Allegedly Behind Conspiratorial Facebook Page

robert-talbot-anti-muslim

Robert Tal­bot Jr.

Last week, the FBI arrested Robert Tal­bot Jr. on charges of plan­ning a vio­lent attack on a Houston-area mosque. A look into Talbot’s his­tory reveals that he not only fos­ters a deep-seated hatred of Mus­lims and Islam, but also sub­scribes to con­spir­acy the­o­ries of an alleged Mus­lim Broth­er­hood takeover of the U.S. and the need to com­bat the so-called “New World Order.” Talbot’s plan to attack the mosque and Mus­lim insti­tu­tions is the lat­est in a recent string of vio­lence directed toward the Muslim-American community.

Accord­ing to the FBI, Talbot’s plan was to recruit “like-minded” accom­plices to “blow up gov­ern­ment build­ings, rob banks, and kill law enforce­ment offi­cers.” In addi­tion, Tal­bot tar­geted Islamic cen­ters and mosques. Tal­bot allegedly planned to enter a mosque dur­ing Fri­day prayers and shoot wor­ship­pers dur­ing ser­vices. FBI offi­cials have also stated that it was part of Talbot’s plan to rob an armored car and attack a mosque with a machine gun. To jus­tify these acts of vio­lence, Tal­bot said that he would be “doing the Will of God.”

Law enforce­ment offi­cials state that Tal­bot is behind the con­spir­a­to­r­ial anti-Muslim and anti-government Face­book page, Amer­i­can Insur­gent Move­ment (AIM).  In posts attrib­uted to him, Tal­bot expressed racist and anti-Muslim con­spir­a­to­r­ial sen­ti­ments that the U.S. has been infil­trated by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and that he intended to send “that White House worth­less piece of dirt and his Mus­lim Broth­er­hood a mes­sage they will never forget.”

In a Novem­ber 23, 2013 post, Tal­bot claimed that he is “not a racist per­son, but I’m only racist to those cul­tures whom show it, and this is why I don’t like Chinks, Mus­lims and a few other…” Tal­bot has also made threats against Obama admin­is­tra­tion advi­sor Valerie Jar­rett, who was born in Iran and who Tal­bot alleged is “a Muslim.”

The ‘About’ sec­tion of AIM’s Face­book page states that it is a group intended for indi­vid­u­als seek­ing to “restore Amer­ica Pre-Constitutionally and look for­ward to stop­ping the Regime with action by blood­shed.” Addi­tion­ally, many of Talbot’s post­ings allude to the need to fight “New World Order,” a con­spir­acy the­ory typ­i­cally revolv­ing around claims that the U.S. gov­ern­ment is try­ing to enslave, coerce, intim­i­date, scare, poi­son, or kill U.S. cit­i­zens on a mass scale.

In a March 1, 2014 post on the Face­book page, Tal­bot claimed that the NWO seeks “to turn Amer­i­can [sic] into their Marx­ist Mus­lim dream,” and that the “NWO can be stop [sic] and will be stopped.” In an ear­lier post from Feb­ru­ary 7, Tal­bot wrote that AIM is “Look­ing ONLY for ex-military or self-trained men who trained in guer­rilla war­fare and under­stand war/battle to the fullest.”

Talbot’s alleged plot is the lat­est in a series of recent inci­dents tar­get­ing Mus­lims and Mus­lim insti­tu­tions:

  • March 2014: The Prayer Cen­ter of Orland Park, located in a Chicago sub­urb, was fired at dur­ing early morn­ing prayer ser­vices by an unknown attacker. A bul­let allegedly struck the gold metal dome of the mosque.
  • March 2014: Sev­eral shots were fired at the Islamic Cen­ter of Hat­ties­burg, Mis­sis­sippi in the mid­dle of the night. Law enforce­ment stated that it is con­sid­er­ing the inci­dent as a “mali­cious mis­chief case.”
  • March 2014: An Iraqi immi­grant was gunned down in a shop­ping cen­ter park­ing lot in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia by an assailant who has expressed hatred for peo­ple of Mid­dle East­ern descent. Law enforce­ment is treat­ing the inci­dent as a hate crime.

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