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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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May 2, 2013 2

Qaradawi On Doha Interfaith Conference: Keep Jews Out!

Rad­i­cal Mus­lim Broth­er­hood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi derided the 10th annual Doha inter­faith con­fer­ence held in Qatar last week for includ­ing Jews.qaradawi-doha

Dur­ing his April 26 Fri­day ser­mon at the Omar Bin al-Khattab Mosque in Doha, Qaradawi said he decided to boy­cott the con­fer­ence because he can­not dia­logue with Jews. “…I can­not be with [sic] a con­fer­ence that includes the oppres­sor Jews,” Qaradawi said.

No way I will put my hand in their hands,” Qaradawi added. “Their hands are soiled with blood. Their hands are the hands of killing, the hands of tyranny and the hands of injus­tice. I can­not con­t­a­m­i­nate my hands by putting it in their hands.”

Qaradawi ini­tially announced his inten­tion to boy­cott the con­fer­ence in an inter­view with the Qatari daily news­pa­per Al-Arab on April 22. “I decided to not par­tic­i­pate, so that I would not sit with the Jews on one plat­form… the Jews are usurp­ing Pales­tine and al-Aqsa Mosque and destroy­ing the houses of God…” Qaradawi told Al-Arab reporter.

In the same inter­view, Qaradawi crit­i­cized all efforts to have a dia­logue with other reli­gious groups, claim­ing they are useless.

Qaradawi pre­vi­ously declined to par­tic­i­pate in the 8th annual Doha con­fer­ence in 2011. In a state­ment released by Qaradawi’s office at that time, he report­edly said, “How can we con­duct a dia­logue in a time when they seize lands, shed blood, burn farms, and demol­ish houses? Palestine’s conun­drum has to be resolved first before we sit together at the same table.”

Qaradawi, who heads The Inter­na­tional Union of Mus­lim Schol­ars, has gar­nered world­wide appeal through a wide net­work of asso­ci­a­tions and by mak­ing use of var­i­ous media out­lets. Through his speeches and writ­ings, Qaradawi has demon­strated con­sis­tent sup­port of ter­ror­ist groups that seek to under­mine a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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