MRFF FEATURED BY MSNBC
Group blasts Marine Corps
for reviving ‘Crusaders’
name and symbols
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Selected Article Excerpts:
- A recent decision by the Marine Corps to reinstate “Crusaders” as the name of its Fighter Attack Squadron 122 — replacing “Werewolves” — and adopting the red cross of the medieval Knights Templar was blasted as unconstitutional and willfully ignorant by a civil rights group Wednesday.
- “I don’t know that the Marine Corps could do anything more to fuel the cause of jihad,” said Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates church-state separation. “It will directly end up taking lives and maiming members of our military.”
- Weinstein says that members of the military who contacted his group — mostly moderate Protestants and Catholics — felt that the decision was blatantly religious. “They’re being told, ‘the enemy gets to have Allah in their fight. We need to get our Lord and Savior back into our fight’,” said Weinstein.”
- … the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on Wednesday sent a letter calling on top Navy and Marine Corps brass to reverse the decision, arguing that the use of Crusaders and the accompanying symbolism violate the Constitution’s separation of church and state, and threatening legal action if it is not changed.
- The name change comes just as world media focuses on the trial of Anders Breivik, a Norwegian who admits to killing 77 people in a holy crusade against Islam and multiculturalism. Breivik brandished the Knights Templar symbols in his “manifesto” and YouTube video posted shortly before his bloody rampage.
MRFF’s Sends Removal Demand Letter via Outside Counsel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
U.S. Marine Fighter Squadron Switches to Same “Crusader” Logo
Used by Norwegian Terrorist Anders Breivik
“Crusader” Mentality Shared by U.S. Military, Norwegian Extremist
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO – Does the U.S. Military think it’s engaged in a holy war? The constitutionalist watchdogs at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are asking this question following the recent decision to rename Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122) the “Crusaders” and adopt the red cross of the medieval Knights Templar.
As the dust in Afghanistan settles following weeks of violence resulting from the burning of the Qu’ran at Bagram Air Base, resulting in 30 dead and the death of six Americans, the decision to rechristen the jet fighter squadron as Crusaders threatens to reignite passions across the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the same red cross was heavily utilized in the video “manifesto” of Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who claims to have carried out his gruesome attacks for the sake of advancing a “crusade” against multiculturalism and European Muslims. Breivik, who is currently standing trial for his gruesome attacks that claimed the lives of 77 people, claims allegiance to a network called the “Knights Templar” and has stated that he aspires to a “crusader” mentality. The Knights Templar was a Christian military order that participated in bloody campaigns across the Middle East, wearing white uniforms emblazoned with a red cross.
This same red cross has now been re-adopted as the logo for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122. Confidential MRFF sources have confirmed that VMFA-122 F/A-18 Hornet jets have been repainted to reflect last month’s name change. Base commanders have confirmed that the new artwork is identical to that shown in images from 2004 which have been uncovered online, which depict designs on the tails of the Hornets displaying a white teardrop-shaped medieval “kite shield” bearing the red Knights Templar cross against an Old Glory Blue backdrop.
In 2008, VMFA-122, based out of Beaufort, South Carolina, was renamed the “Werewolves” after having borne the “Crusaders” label since 1958. With United States service personnel based across the Arab and Islamic world, the “Crusaders” name was dropped due to its clearly incendiary and offensive nature. At the time, Lt. Col. William Lieblein stated “The notion of being a crusader in that part of the world doesn’t float.”
“Crusader” is an epithet that is routinely used to describe U.S. service personnel throughout the Arab and Islamic world. A phrase with deeply resonant connotations in the region, “Crusader” recalls a history of colonization and a campaign of conquest and plunder spearheaded by European Christian military orders that claimed the lives of millions of inhabitants throughout the Middle East. In March 2012, Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri referred to International Security Assistance Force troops stationed in Afghanistan as “Crusader Swine”. During last year’s NATO intervention in Libya, then-leader Muammar Gaddafi referred to Western forces as a “crusader alliance.” Likewise, insurgent forces in Iraq have regularly called U.S. personnel “crusaders.”
However, on the occasion of the squadron’s 70th anniversary in March, present commander Lt. Col. Wade Wiegel stated that the “Crusader” label was “not politically incorrect”, according to a story broken by the Beaufort Gazette. According to Wiegel, “It’s a way for our Marines to draw on the service of the Marines before them, and to make their own history under the same name… the name change is a reflection of our heritage.”
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, president and founder of the four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominated MRFF, blasted the decision to rename the Werewolves, stating that “It will absolutely serve as a priceless propaganda bonanza of jovian magnitude for our nation’s fundamentalist Islamic foes and, thus, represents a veritable national security threat to the United States of America. Likewise, it will incontrovertibly, directly and indirectly hasten the maiming and deaths of our armed forces members.”
Just under one hundred U.S. Marines, the vast majority of whom are Christians who wish to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, contacted Weinstein after the renaming was brought to light. One “Crusader”, a member of VMFA-122, expressed his disgust and confided that he expected MRFF, an organization that represents over 27,000 clients within the U.S. armed forces (approximately 96% of whom are Christian), “to do something about this”.
Many Christian fundamentalist extremists endorse the idea of a new crusade, believing that it fulfills biblical prophecies. In August 2001, Protestant prophecy magazine The Philadelphia Trumpet published an article opening with the lines “Most people think the crusades for Jerusalem are a thing of the past—over forever. They are wrong. Preparations are being made for a final crusade, and it will be the bloodiest of all!” Immediately following the attacks on September 11, 2001, George W. Bush raised the hackles of European allies after referring to “This crusade, this war on terrorism”.
MRFF holds that much of U.S. Military doctrine has been tainted by supernatural theological concepts and a “Clash of Civilizations”, “us vs. them” ideology which warps order, discipline, and servicemember morale. The latest news of the “Crusader” renaming comes hot on the heels of recent controversies in Afghanistan involving brazen religious and cultural insensitivities by U.S. forces which have dramatically enflamed tensions in the region. These incidents have included the display of a Nazi Waffen-SS banner by U.S. Marine Corps Scout Snipers, a video of Marines urinating on dead irregular fighters, the widespread phenomenon of “Pork-Eating Infidel” patches worn by U.S. service personnel (which feature uniformed Templar knight crusaders), and the mass-burning of Qu’rans by U.S. forces at Bagram Air Base.
For more information, please see the below article from MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda
ABOUT MICHAEL L. “MIKEY” WEINSTEIN:
Mikey Weinstein is the Founder and President of the four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominated civil rights organization known as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and author of the recently released book, NO SNOWFLAKE IN AN AVALANCHE: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, It’s Battle to Defend the Constitution and One Family’s Courageous War Against Religious Extremism in High Places (2012, Vireo). He is an honor graduate of the USAF Academy, a former White House Counsel in the Reagan Administration and former General Counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is also the author of WITH GOD ON OUR SIDE: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military (St. Martin’s Press, 2006).
MRFF FEATURED BY
Marines Return to Being “Crusaders”
By Chris Rodda, MRFF Senior Research Director
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Selected Article Excerpts:
- In 2008, when Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 was preparing to deploy to Iraq, the unit’s commander, Lt. Col. William Lieblein, did something very wise and sensible — he changed the nickname of the unit from “Crusaders” back to its former name, the “Werewolves.” Stating the obvious, Lt. Col. Lieblein said, “The notion of being a crusader in that part of the world doesn’t float.”But now, under new leadership, the unit is going back to being the “Crusaders,” complete with an insignia of a crusader shield with a big red cross on it and a crusader knight as its mascot.
- According to the Beaufort Gazette, the squadron’s new commander, Lt. Col. Wade Wiegel, just doesn’t see calling a U.S. military unit the “Crusaders” as being “politically incorrect.” The paper quoted Wiegel saying of the name change: “It’s a way for our Marines to draw on the service of the Marines before them, and to make their own history under the same name. As the squadron prepared to celebrate its (70th anniversary), my intent was to return the squadron to the Crusader name since 50 of the squadron’s 70 years were under that name. The name change is a reflection of our heritage.”