The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF: http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org) is proud to announce the recipients of the Courageous Sacrifice Scholarship for Constitutional Defense and the Freedom’s Promise Research Grant for the Advancement of Religious Liberty. Speaking from Albuquerque, New Mexico, MRFF Founder and President Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein noted that “the scholarship and research grant are the least we could do to honor those model Americans who have placed everything on the line in the fight to prevent the U.S. military from being subject to the perverse designs of Christian fundamentalist Dominionism.”
The Courageous Sacrifice Scholarship for Constitutional Defense is meant to honor those servicemembers who have displayed academic excellence and bravery in fighting to safeguard the foundational American values which every servicemember has sworn an oath to defend. The recipient of this $2000 scholarship is Blake Page, a former West Point cadet (and Director of MRFF Affairs at West Point) who was compelled to resign from the United States Military Academy by the pervasive Christian fundamentalist presence at the Academy. Despite having led the charge in fighting for (and winning) secular, non-religious alternatives to previously compulsory prayer ceremonies, Page could no longer tolerate the open disrespect and abuse of non-religious cadets at West Point. Disgusted by the clear favoritism shown by faculty and administration towards this unconstitutional milieu, Page left the Academy – but not before blowing the lid off of the Christian fundamentalist regime at West Point.
In a nationally featured Op-Ed, Page wrote, “We are all affected by the intrusion of religious authority into the government. There is no place for establishing the supremacy of one religion over all others in our country. Many American service members have had their fill of being told that the religious preference of the majority is superior to their personally held philosophical beliefs.”
Click here to learn more about Blake Page’s ordeal at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blake-page/military-religious-freedom_b_2338113.html
The Freedom’s Promise Research Grant for the Advancement of Religious Liberty is a $2000 gift meant to fund scholarly research that reflects MRFF’s mission. MRFF could think of no more deserving candidate for this tribute than Doctor David Mullin, a former associate professor of economics at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dr. Mullin gained the ire of certain USAFA administrators for his forthright defense of cadets’ Constitutionally assured rights to carry on their studies unmolested by coercive Christian proselytization. For Dr. Mullin, his position at the forefront of the fight back against coercive proselytization at USAFA was rooted in his conviction and faith as a conservative Evangelical Christian. Mullin also played an instrumental role in exposing the negligent hiring and retention of patently unqualified instructors.
Of the more than 370 MRFF clients at USAFA, Mullin is the only one who is known publicly. For precisely this reason, Dr. Mullin faced what he believes was retaliation ordered by USAFA Dean of Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born and Vice Dean Col. Robert Fullerton. The campaign of repression against Dr. Mullin included the alleged poisoning of his service dog, “Caleb,” and the non-renewal of his contract at USAFA, among other offenses. One anonymous USAFA cadet, speaking on behalf of the numerous MRFF clients at USAFA, hailed Dr. Mullin’s reputation as “the only one to stand up, for all to see, to fight the unconstitutional Christian fundamentalism here at USAFA.”
Dr. Mullin is presently an economist at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He is actively conducting research showing a steep, long-running decline in the adherence of cadets and midshipmen to the honor codes at U.S. military service academies. His studies have shown that nearly 75 percent of recent graduates admitted to honor code violations, including including a sexual assault cover-up by several cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Click here to learn more about Dr. David Mullin: http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/2013/01/dr-david-mullin/
Both the Courageous Sacrifice Scholarship and the Freedom’s Promise Research Grant were made possible by the generosity and passion of MRFF Advisory Board member John Whiteside. A firm believer in the need to retain the “wall” separating church and state in the U.S. military, Whiteside is a veteran USAF and USMC fighter pilot who valiantly flew 52 missions in Operation Desert Storm, gaining a Distinguished Flying Cross for conspicuous heroism in combat. Today, Whiteside is one of only a few military aviators to possess both Senior Command Air Force wings and aircraft carrier qualified Naval Aviator wings.
Whiteside’s inspiration to give the awards was spurred by the exemplary standards set forth by countless unnamed members of the military who have resisted the encroachment of fundamentalist Christianity upon the U.S. military. These heroic figures have put their livelihoods – and in far too many cases, their lives – on the line in the course of defending their own basic rights and those of their comrades-in-arms.
Click here to learn more about John Whiteside: http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/foundation-voices/john-whiteside/
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is a watchdog / advocacy group whose goal is to ensure that members of the U.S. Armed Forces receive the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom to which they are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Mikey Weinstein founded MRFF in 2005 to oppose the spread of religious intimidation by fundamentalist Christians in positions of power within the US military. MRFF currently has over 30,800 clients in the armed forces.
Speaking about the scholarship and research grant, Mikey commented, “We’re truly humbled not only by pioneering leaders such as the recipients of these gifts (not to mention the gift-giver himself), but by the selfless virtue of our heroic clients who, against all odds, have fearlessly stuck their necks out to expose and denounce the wretched abuse of our foundational values as a democracy.”