At the always valuable Via Meadia, Walter Russell Mead has an interesting post concerning last week’s allegations by a former cadet that a “Christian Taliban” harasses non-believers at the US Military Academy. Mead is skeptical it’s as bad as the former cadet says and argues that Christianity in the military is a good thing. Nonetheless, he says, it’s important to strike a balance between the rights of believers and non-believers and he suggests that West Point review the situation. Serious Christians know, he writes, that their faith requires them to show “respect, fairness, and friendship for those outside the fold.”
Here’s something at the intersection of religion and statecraft about the Hindu tradition of the philosophy of war (compare, e.g., just war theory in the Catholic tradition): Hinduism and the Ethics of Warfare in South Asia: From Antiquity to the Present (CUP 2012) by Kaushik Roy (Jadavpur University). The publisher’s description follows.
This book challenges the view, common among Western scholars, that precolonial India lacked a tradition of military philosophy. It traces the evolution of theories of warfare in India from the dawn of civilization, focusing on the debate between Dharmayuddha (Just War) and Kutayuddha (Unjust War) within Hindu philosophy. This debate centers around four questions: What is war? What justifies it? How should it be waged? And what are its potential repercussions? This body of literature provides evidence of the historical evolution of strategic thought in the Indian subcontinent that has heretofore been neglected by modern historians. Further, it provides a counterpoint to scholarship in political science that engages solely with Western theories in its analysis of independent India’s philosophy of warfare. Ultimately, a better understanding of the legacy of ancient India’s strategic theorizing will enable more accurate analysis of modern India’s military and nuclear policies.
A federal court has reinstated the Establishment Clause claim of a West Point cadet who was disenrolled for plagiarism and related honor code violations. As part of the cadet’s punishment, he had been ordered by a panel to “stand with his body rigid in a military posture and to read aloud the ‘Cadet’s Prayer’”:
Oh God, our Father, Thou Searcher of human hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth. May our religion be filled with gladness and may our worship of Thee be natural . . . . Help us . . . in doing our duty to Thee[.]
The Secretary of the Army had dismissed the cadet’s Establishment Clause claim for lack of standing. The court (DDC) disagreed and reinstated the claim, holding that the cadet had alleged an injury in fact.
The case is Spadone v. McHugh, 2012 WL 2017973 (D.D.C. June 6, 2012).
This morning, Rabbi Menachem Stern, a Chabad Lubavitch rabbi, will join the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps. It wasn’t always clear he could. Like other Hasidic Jews, Rabbi Stern interprets a passage from Leviticus to require men to wear beards. Army regulations generally forbid beards. Rabbi Stern sued, arguing that the no-beards rule, as applied to a Hasidic Jew like him, violated the Free Exercise Clause. The Army settled the case and granted Stern a waiver, as it has done for Sikh and Muslim soldiers whose religious beliefs also require them to wear beards.
I haven’t seen Rabbi Stern’s complaint, but I imagine he relied heavily on then-Judge Alito’s famous decision in Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark (3d Cir. 1999), which struck down a police department’s no-beards rule. The rule exempted police officers who grew beards for medical reasons, but not those who grew beards for religious reasons. Alito concluded that denying an exemption for religious reasons, while allowing an exemption for secular reasons, violated the Free Exercise Clause. Like the police department regulations in Fraternal Order of Police, Army regulations appear to allow soldiers to wear beards if a medical condition requires it.