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Air Force: Investigators Reviewing Statements By Outspoken Chaplain Hernandez
After initially denying an investigation, the Air Force said Friday that its inspector general’s office is reviewing complaints against reserve chaplain Capt. Sonny Hernandez, who proclaimed that Christian servicemembers are wrong to support the rights of other faiths to practice their religion, actions that he said will lead them to hell.
“I can confirm that the Air Force is reviewing IG complaints made against Chaplain Hernandez that were referred to the Air Force Inspector General’s office,” Air Force spokesman Col. Patrick Ryder said Friday. “At this time it would be inappropriate to comment on the nature of those complaints or speculate on potential outcomes.”
An Air Force Reserve spokesman said earlier this week that the service was not investigating Hernandez.
Hernandez, with the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is strongly outspoken on his Christian beliefs. On the Christian blog Barbwire.com, Hernandez wrote last week that Christians in the Armed Forces who support the constitutional rights of people from other religions to practice their faith are wrong. As a chaplain, he said he believes he cannot subvert his religion beneath Constitutional law. He wrote that if a Christian supports a person’s Constitutional right to an abortion, they are serving Satan.
“It is imperative the Bible-believing military chaplains align themselves with the right endorser that has sincerely held beliefs that appeal to Scripture alone and will not support or accommodate evil,” he wrote.
In the wake of the post, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a complaint against Hernandez with the Department of Defense Inspector General. The organization’s president and founder, Mikey Weinstein, said the complaint was in addition to others MRFF filed against Hernandez in April. He said he was surprised that the complaints were being reviewed by the Air Force, not Pentagon investigators.
(Left to right), Staff Sgt. Sonny Hernandez, of the 445th Security Forces Squadron, located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz, of the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard and Kavuma Richard with KBR Service Contracting from Uganda, Africa take a moment to pose for a picture after competing in a 5K race in Iraq. The three individuals are planning to compete in the Fargo Marathon on May 9 from Iraq.DoD photo
Ryder did not say whether the complaints from April were still under review or why spokespeople the Air Force and the Air Force Reserves did not know about the inspector general’s review.
The controversy raises questions over the role of chaplains and where the boundaries lie between spiritual leadership and innate freedoms of religion and speech guaranteed under the Constitution that all servicemembers swear to “support and defend.”
All chaplains must be certified as “willing to function in a pluralistic environment ... and to support directly and indirectly the free exercise of religion by all members of the Military Services, their family members and other persons authorized to be served by the military chaplaincies,” according to the Department of Defense.
It also is further complicated by the fact that Hernandez is a reserve chaplain, meaning most days, he is a civilian. He told Stars and Stripes this week that he sees his role as that of missionary and said he was espousing purely theological arguments.
©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.