Since its inception in 2005, MRFF and its President and Founder, Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of our clients by fostering a national discussion, influencing military policies, and pursuing legal remedies through our court system. Your support has made this vital work possible.
August 2007 – MRFF first to uncover evangelical extremist group’s unconstitutional distribution of sectarian and bigoted “Left Behind” videogame to active-duty troops serving in Iraq: The game featured a post-apocalyptic storyline where “Soldiers for Christ” must convert “Secularists”, Jews, Muslims, and others. The group, Operation Straight Up, openly advocated the United States military unleashing “multiple crusades” to “sweep through” the Arab and Muslim world.
October 2008 - The California Council of Churches IMPACT (CCCI), one of the country’s largest Christian organizations, representing 21 mainstream and progressive Protestant denominations, 5,500 congregations, and millions of congregants formally announced its endorsement of MRFF.
October 2009 - The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was officially nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize: The nominator, who wishes to remain anonymous, happens to be the only Christian in the upper chamber of his country’s national parliament; the country is an ally of the United States. Shortly thereafter, another anonymous Qualified Nominator submitted a second official nomination for MRFF for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
January 2010 – After MRFF and Mikey Weinstein exposed the biblical references engraved on Trijicon brand rifle scopes used by the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan on ABC’s flagship news program Nightline, the story exploded across international news outlets. Shortly after the “Jesus Rifles” story broke, the manufacturer gave in to media pressure and ceased using the inscriptions, subsequently distributing kits throughout the military for the purpose of removing these biblical references from weaponry currently deployed worldwide.
April 2010 – MRFF successfully demanded the cancellation of Islamophobic Evangelical Preacher Franklin Graham’s scheduled participation in the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer event, thereby severing the affiliation between the Pentagon event and Shirley Dobson(wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson)’s exclusively Christian National Day of Prayer Task Force and making this event inclusive of all religions. Also in April, the book Attitudes Aren’t Free: Thinking Deeply about Diversity in the US Armed Forces, published by Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, was widely distributed throughout the command structure of the United States military. The book includes a chapter written by MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda, which provides a comprehensive overview and numerous specific examples of the various issues that MRFF is currently dealing with and has dealt with in the past.
June 2010 – Colorado Interfaith Alliance officially endorsed MRFF’s challenge of the Evans Army Community Hospital emblem’s depiction of a Crusader cross.
August 2010 – MRFF broke the story of soldiers punished for refusing to attend a Christian concert at Ft. Eustis. MRFF’s spotlight on the issue of military-endorsed Christian concerts led to significant criticism of the Billy Graham Association’s “Rock the Fort” Christian concert at Ft. Bragg the following month.
September 2010 – MRFF and Mikey were included as major subjects in New York Times bestselling author Jeff Sharlet’s newest groundbreaking book, C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy (published by Little, Brown and Company), in which they are referred to as the “constitutional conscience of the military.”
October 2010 – MRFF was officially nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, making this the second consecutive year MRFF has been honored with such recognition. Mikey Weinstein received the 2010 Anne Froehlich Political Courage Award from the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club for his work with the foundation.
November 2010 – After MRFF’s relentless pressure on the US Air Force Academy, Superintendent Lt. Gen. Gould released the data behind the bi-annual Academy Climate Survey. The survey revealed that 41% of non-Christian cadets and 19% of all cadets were subjected to unwanted proselytizing. Additionally, religious liberty watchdog Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced that Mikey Weinstein will be named “Person of the Year” at a November 2011 ceremony in Washington, D.C. “We’ve never named a ‘Person of the Year’ before, but I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Mikey Weinstein,” stated Americans United executive director Rev. Barry W. Lynn.
Throughout 2010, Mikey Weinstein spoke to students at a number of the U.S. military’s educational institutions: the U.S. Air Force Academy’s National Character and Leadership Symposium, the Air Force JAG School, and the Air Command and Staff College. This direct contact with the future leaders of America’s military has been vitally important to MRFF’s continuing mission of fostering a climate of absolute religious freedom and acceptance throughout our armed forces.
January 2011 – MRFF demanded that the US Army cease and desist their blatantly unconstitutional policy of administering a “spiritual fitness” component to the mandatory “Soldier Fitness Tracker”, whereby soldiers’ combat-readiness and ability are judged on the basis of their religiosity.
March 2011 - MRFF opposes superiors demanding participation in religious events: U.S. Army releases investigation on March 8, 2011 pursuant to MRFF demands after soldiers disciplined for choosing not to attend an evangelical Christian Commanding Generals’ Spiritual Fitness Concert at Ft. Eustis. MRFF continues to disagree with the investigation’s attempt to place the blame on a lower-ranking soldier.
March 2011 – MRFF Invited to Provide Testimony to the U.S. Senate: On March 29, 2011, MRFF provided extensive written testimony to a U.S. Senate hearing on “Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims.” The hearing was held before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, and was the first-ever Congressional hearing on the civil rights of American Muslims.
April 2011 - Representing MRFF in a panel debate alongside military chaplains, Mikey Weinstein spoke to the US Army War College Strategy Conference on faith in the US military and in American civilian life, stressing the need to steadfastly protect soldiers’ legal rights to freedom from proselytizing harassment and to safeguard the military’s national security mission from those seeking to divert it towards theocratic, crusader ends.
June 2011 – MRFF’s vigorous efforts result in two immigrant MRFF clients of the Muslim faith, eager to serve their adopted homeland as translators abroad, being featured in a heart-rending, emotional story featured by both the New York Times and ABC News Nightline. The exposé detailed the hideous, ongoing ordeal which they have undergone since being subject to the unfounded accusations of conspiracy to poison their fellow soldiers.
July 2011 – Based on the fallout from a MRFF client’s FOIA request exposing the use of Christian ‘Just War’ theology, the Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare training program “has been taken out of the curriculum and is being reviewed,” according to David Smith, chief of public affairs of Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. Subsequent to this action, on August 14, 2011, the Air Force Times reported that the Air Force was reviewing all training materials related to ethics, core values and character development after more Christian-themed course work surfaced.
August 2011 - Fort Bragg Limits then Restores Promised Support for “Rock Beyond Belief ” Concert/Festival: Due in part to continued pressure by MRFF, a spokesman for Fort Bragg announced in early August 2011 that, “Our logistical support will be the same as what we did for Rock the Fort,” meaning Bragg will provide the venue, security, and basic utilities. The event is presently scheduled to take place on March 31, 2012, on the main parade field at Fort Bragg (also the venue for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s fundamentalist Christian “Rock the Fort” concert, which was officially endorsed and promoted by Fort Bragg).
August 2011 - MRFF investigates Department of Defense contracts regarding religious promotions to military members and their families: In 2010, MRFF began an investigation into just how much money the DoD spends promoting religion to military personnel and their families. The initial report by Chris Rodda, MRFF Senior Research Director, was released on August 19, 2011, and was prominently featured on the front page of The Huffington Post.
September 2011 - MRFF again compels concrete corrective action by the U.S. Department of Defense and by the U.S. Air Force Academy: On September 1, 2011, General Norton Schwartz, United States Air Force Chief of Staff issued a memorandum on ‘Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion.’ Distribution of this edict by Academy leadership to faculty, staff, and cadets occurred only after MRFF’s placement of a billboard containing the full text of the memorandum at a busy intersection in Colorado Springs, the home of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
November 2011 - MRFF’s demands for compliance with General Schwartz’s edict of September 1, 2011 led to the U.S. Air Force Academy’s command quickly moving sponsorship and oversight of Franklin Graham’s Operation Christmas Child program at the Academy under the guidance of the Chaplain Corps, where all religious programs belong.
November 2011 - Americans United for Separation of Church and State awarded Mikey Weinstein its inaugural Person of the Year award in Washington, DC on November 7, 2011. MRFF also received a nomination for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, making this the third consecutive year and fourth occasion where MRFF has been honored with such recognition.
December 2011 – MRFF provided written testimony on December 7, 2011 to a Joint Hearing on “Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States” held by the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, detailing the plight of service member-clients and victims of Islamophobia within the armed forces.
January 2012 - No Snowflake in an Avalanche (Vireo, 2012) is released in January/2012 and details MRFF’s prominent case studies and struggles, as well as the violent impediments that continue to be imposed against MRFF by those in opposition. Mikey supports book lease with nationwide speaking and book signing tour which includes one book store in Albuquerque, NM being forced by public pressure to reverse its decision to deny an in-store appearance due to “controversy” surrounding Mikey/MRFF/Book.
January 2012 - Rabid Islamophobic retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin Withdraws from West Point Speech: MRFF sent a demand letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh on January 27, 2012 condemning the outrageous and scandalous decision to invite the rabidly Islamophobic retired Lieutenant General William Boykin to speak before the National Prayer Breakfast at the United States Military Academy at West Point scheduled for February 8, 2012. MRFF demanded rescission of this invitation to speak on behalf of 27 faculty members and 74 cadets, all MRFF clients, all but 7 of whom were either Protestant or Roman Catholic.
February 2012 - MRFF broke the story on February 9, 2012 of the ongoing usage of Nazi SS Flag and Symbols by U.S. Marines serving in Afghanistan. This story received massive and immediate worldwide coverage. After breaking the story about Nazi flag usage, MRFF sent a letter on February 13, 2012 to Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta demanding an immediate comprehensive investigation into the Nazi SS flag’s usage along with recent disclosure of a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Afghanistan being named “Aryan”. U.S. Marine Corps Commandant James Amos issued an official apology and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pledged to launch investigation just one day after MRFF sends letter demanding immediate investigation.
April 2012 - One Day After MRFF Demand, Air Force Removes “Spiritual Responsibility” Content from Squadron Officer School Curriculum: MRFF learned that the Air Force’s Squadron Officer School’s mandatory training materials stated, “If you attend chapel regularly, both officers and airmen are likely to follow this example,” among other content in a section entitled “Spiritual and Ethical Responsibilities of the Leader.” Just one day after MRFF’s immediate demand for removal, the Air Force responded by promptly doing so.
May 2012 – MRFF Action Leads to Renaming of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122): On April 17, 2012 MRFF initially challenged a Marine fighter squadron decision on renaming from the “Werewolves” to the “Crusaders”. The squadron, based in Beaufort, S.C., used the Crusaders symbol from 1958 to 2008, when Lt. Col. William Lieblein pointed out that imagery invoking the Christian conquest and colonization of Muslim nations during the Middle Ages was counterproductive to the U.S. presence across the Arab and Islamic world. In a letter written May 23, 2012 to Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, and Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, MRFF threatened legal action to force a change in the squadron name. MRFF also submitted a FOIA request for all communication and documentation related to the return of the squadron’s name from “Werewolves” to “Crusaders.”
VMFA-122 has been ordered to reverse the decision, and to return to identifying itself as “Werewolves”. The deputy commandant for aviation directed VMFA 122 to maintain the unit identification as the “Werewolves”, according to Marine Corps public information officer Lt. Col. Joseph Plenzler
To discourage similar actions in the future, MRFF has demanded prosecution of those who made the decision to rename the squadron the “Crusaders” along with a full accounting of the resulting costs to U.S. taxpayers.
June 2012 – Space and Missile Systems Center ‘Industry Days’ Rescheduled: After MRFF Intervenes on Behalf of Clients. The 2012 Event was scheduled for Sept. 25 through Sept. 27 at exactly the same time that Jewish people observe what is considered the holiest day of their calendar, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. Based on MRFFs direct intervention, Doug Loverro, Executive Director of the SMSC, directly emailed MRFF to state that “we intend to change the dates for SMC Industry days to de-conflict it with Yom Kippur.”
June 2012 – U.S. Military Emblems No Longer Allowed on Holman Military Bibles: Over the past few years, MRFF has received nearly 2,000 complaints about these Bibles which are displayed and sold in base exchanges and other stores on military bases. The Military HSBC Bibles contained material merging Evangelical symbolism and theology with national and military iconography and anthems. The Bibles also contain a lengthy section of essays and other information promoting the Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF), an organization devoted to raising “a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” Following direct efforts by MRFF on behalf of its clients, all four branches of the U.S. Military have now revoked their approval of the Military series of Holman Christian Standard Bibles (HCSB).
August 2012 - New Air Force Instruction AFI 1-1 Issued, Further Strengthening Religious Neutrality in U.S. Air Force: MRFF pressure directly culminated in the issuance of Air Force Instruction 1-1 Standards of Conduct. This document requires total mandatory compliance on penalty of potential adverse criminal action, including courts martial, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice – the first time religious neutrality regulations have had such enforceability. AFI 1-1 requires non-chaplain officers and supervisors to “avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”
October 2012 -MRFF Client Exposes U.S. Army suicide prevention sessions lead to forced “mass Christian prayer”: During an Army-wide stand down for suicide prevention sessions, a Christian chaplain in Texas improperly led rookie soldiers in a candlelight prayer, an Army instructor said in a formal complaint last week. Staff Sgt. Victoria Gettman, a lab technician instructor at Fort Sam Houston, informed MRFF that she was among 800 soldiers from the 264th Medical Battalion undergoing resilience training on Sept. 26. Almost all of the soldiers were fresh out of boot camp and in training for their first job in the Army. 38 service members at the base, including 11 who were in the room, have told MRFF they are willing to sign a federal complaint against “this unconstitutional disaster.” Among that group are 24 Christians (Protestants and Roman Catholics), two Jews and 12 agnostics or atheists.
MRFF is nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for the fifth time, marking the fourth consecutive year that MRFF has received a nomination. MRFF was nominated by one of the founding members of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization.
November 2012 – Cancellation of fundamentalist fraudster and phony “Doctor” Ray Giunta as Guest Speaker of Pentagon Prayer Breakfast: MRFF, based on the complaints of 211 armed forces clients (189 of whom are practicing Protestants or Roman Catholics) at the Pentagon, demanded on November 26, 2012 that Senior Department of Defense (DoD) leadership immediately and officially revoke the invitation to Mr. Ray Giunta to be the ‘Guest Speaker’ at the ‘Pentagon Prayer Breakfast’ scheduled for November 28, 2012. MRFF also demanded that an aggressive DoD investigation be swiftly launched to determine the particulars of why, how, when and who was responsible, via acts of commission and omission, for inviting this disgusting, despicable charlatan and fraud to speak at this Pentagon event in the first place. MRFF quickly organized a petition to the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office in support of its demands. On the morning of November 27, 2012, the Office of the Chaplain at the Pentagon sent a revised invitation to the prayer breakfast saying that Giunta was no longer going to speak. MRFF continues to demand an investigation into the actions surrounding this event.
December 2012 – West Point Cadet, MRFF Client sacrifices career in noble stance defending U.S. Constitution from religious zealots. Blake Page, a West Point cadet slated to graduate this year, resigned in protest of the pattern of invasive and harassing religious proselytizing taking place at the esteemed military academy.
Sacrificing his degree and commission, Page risked receiving a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition, but was honorably discharged with waived fees as a result of the firestorm of media attention attracted to West Point’s crisis of proselytization. Page, a former Army enlisted man, was a leader in cadet efforts to end illegal Christian proselytizing at the academy and favoritism shown by faculty and administrators toward Christians. Page is Director of MRFF Affairs at West Point as well as the president of the West Point Secular Student Alliance.
Page, testifying in a blog posted on Huffington Post, wrote:
While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution…
… The existence of decades of legal precedent and policies prohibiting this pervasive religious bigotry has not stopped it from happening in the past, and will most certainly not stop it from happening in the future so long as the many who oppose it remain too timid to stand up and be counted. I am making this stand in the hope that others will follow by whatever means they must. Perhaps now some of the 136 cadets, faculty and staff at West Point that are represented by the MRFF may find the courage to make themselves heard.
December 2012 – Mikey Weinstein Named to List of 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense: MRFF President and Founder, Mikey Weinstein is named to the inaugural 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense on December 17, 2012. This list was compiled over five months by more than two dozen reporters and editors representing the world’s biggest military newsroom and the award-winning staffs of Gannett Government Media’s sector-leading publications: Defense News, Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Armed Forces Journal and Federal Times. Inclusion in this list is based on an individuals’ personal influence, not just the power that comes with their office. One individual on the list explains the concept of personal influence as “…making change, it’s not just celebrity.”
January 2013– U.S. Naval Academy Officer’s Christian Fellowship Removes Slogan from Webpage After MRFF FOIA Request: For many years, the “purpose” statement of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF), an organization of over 15,000 fundamentalist Christian officers operating throughout the military, was: “A spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” MRFF submitted a FOIA request to find out who was responsible for this blatant proclamation of a purpose so antithetical to the purpose of training future officers at the service academies. In the wake of MRFF’s FOIA request, the OCF page on the Naval Academy’s website has been changed to: “Our purpose is to glorify God by uniting Christian midshipmen for Biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society.”
January 2013– U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan on Thursday ordered the removal of a steeple and crucifix erected over a remote American base in the Muslim country after a soldier deployed there noted that the symbols violated Army regulations, and could reinforce suspicions that the United States is fighting a holy war. “It is the sort of thing that provides a boundless bonanza of terrorist propaganda for the mujahedeen, the insurrectionists, the Taliban and al-Qaida that we are supposedly fighting to protect our national security,” said Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the non-profit Military Religious Freedom Foundation. “The message of the cross on the chapel is basically putting out the message in Pashto, Dari and Arabic to please blow me up because I’m a latter day Christian crusader.”
January 2013– MRFF Announces Recipients of the Courageous Sacrifice Scholarship for Constitutional Defense and the Freedom’s Promise Research Grant for the Advancement of Religious Liberty on 1/15/2013: The Courageous Sacrifice Scholarship for Constitutional Defense is meant to honor those service members who have displayed academic excellence and bravery in fighting to safeguard the foundational American values which every service member has sworn an oath to defend. The recipient of this $2000 scholarship was Blake Page, former West Point cadet who was compelled to resign from the United States Military Academy by the pervasive Christian fundamentalist presence at the Academy – but not before blowing the lid off of the Christian fundamentalist regime at West Point. 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). 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.
February 2013 – MRFF Demands Corrective & Punitive Action When U.S. Air Force Academy Promotes Reprehensible Homophobic Website as Source for Jewish Holiday Information. MRFF submitted a letter to General Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff, United States Air Force, demanding that links to the website (www.jewfaq.org) no longer be used as educational reference points for matters of the Jewish faith and that those parties responsible face swift and decisive corrective measures. MRFF followed this with erecting a billboard on 3/5/2013 in Colorado Springs, CO (home of USAFA) and a protest rally on 3/8/2013 attended by approximately 65 people. Both events received significant coverage which finally led USAFA to ‘de-link’ this offensive website.
April 2013 – MRFF Meets with Pentagon Officials Regarding Implementation of Religious Neutrality Standards: MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein, MRFF Board Member Ambassador Joseph Wilson, and MRFF Advisory Board Member Colonel (ret.) Lawrence Wilkerson met with a Pentagon group that included several generals and a military chaplain to discuss religious neutrality issues within the U.S. Military.
May 2013 – National Civil Rights and Interfaith/Faith-Based Organizations Step Up to Defend Foundation From Heinously Distorted Allegations – Following MRFF’s meeting at the Pentagon a major media maelstrom enveloped the foundation, with misinformation disseminated by BREITBART.com leading to an avalanche of negative press from Fox News (including an interview on the O’Reilly Report) and other pro-Dominionist media outlets. This culminated in the denunciation of Mikey Weinstein as an “anti-Christian extremist” by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) on the floor of the House of Representatives.
May 2013 – MRFF Forces Removal of Overtly Religious Artwork from Dining Hall at Mountain Home A.F.B.: MRFF was contacted by a non-commissioned officer (NCO) from Mountain Home Air Force Base, acting as the spokesperson for a group of twenty-two airmen (17 of the 22 are Christians, both Catholic and Protestant) who wanted this repugnant piece of artwork removed. Mikey Weinstein immediately called the Pentagon and gave the Air Force an hour to take action. By the time Mikey talked to the Wing Commander at the base a few minutes later, the Wing Commander had already been contacted by the Pentagon. Fifty-six minutes after his call to the Pentagon, the image of the crusader, with its odious melding of the crusader flag with the American flag, had been removed from the dining hall. The Wing Commander at Mountain Home Air Force Base said he will be ordering another “Health & Welfare” inspection to rid his base of anything else like what had been hanging in the dining hall.
May 2013 – MRFF Receives 1st Ever Approval to Participate in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC): MRFF received approval from the CFC Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on May 10, 2013 to participate in the 2013 CFC fall campaign. CFC is the world’s largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, with almost 200 CFC campaigns throughout the country and overseas raising millions of dollars each year. The CFC Annual Fall Campaign is a significant event for all federal civilian and military employees. The impact of MRFF’s acceptance in to the 2013 CFC was best described by a MRFF client:
“Others may not understand the impact this has, but I do. When the annual CFC drive starts, many (MANY) conversations occur in Ready Rooms, squadron bars, the duty desk, etc etc etc…..about what is on “the list” and what is not. I’ve been there done that, and ‘have the t shirt’ so to speak. This is HUGE. This is a true grass roots visceral level indictment of belief on soooooo many levels for soooooo many folks in the military. Not only is this about “show me the money”…..this is about day to day conversation. A conversation that is long overdue.”
June 2013 – MRFF Successes in Challenging Unconstitutional Religious Activity in the Military Brings Attempt at Congressional Retaliation: On June 13, 2013 Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) introduced an amendment to the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act. Huelskamp’s amendment, with the heading “Meetings with Respect to Religious Liberty,” was passed by a voice vote in the House. Huelskamp, in a press release, made no secret that the sole purpose of his amendment was to stop one man — MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein — from meeting with military officials at the Pentagon. MRFF issued a press release/article by Chris Rodda on June 17, 2013 in full support of this proposed amendment. This support is based on a long-standing desire to expose the countless meetings that have no doubt occurred, and continue to occur, between military officials and civilians from the various fundamentalist Christian parachurch organizations.
July 2013 – MRFF’s Action on Behalf of Clients Quickly Produces Corrective Action Regarding Sectarian Prayer During Official Ceremony at U.S. Military Research Facility: A spokesperson for a group of 40 service members and military contractors (32 being either Protestant or Catholic) at a U.S. Military research facility contacted MRFF with a complaint that a ceremony with required attendance included a speaker who invoked religious references to prayer and worship that clearly applied to certain religious groups and not all in attendance. The spokesperson stated that he contacted MRFF on behalf of himself and others “after being given the impression that I must conform to a narrow range of religious beliefs (or any belief at all, as I am non-religious) in order to be considered patriotic”. MRFF President and Founder, Mikey Weinstein, immediately contacted the commanding officer of the facility on behalf of these MRFF clients to resolve this situation. In response, the commanding officer of the research facility issued the following statement to those under his command:
Last week during the … ceremony, I witnessed an example of exclusion instead of inclusion that was inappropriate, in my view. During the invocation, the speaker invoked religious references to prayer and worship that clearly applied to certain religious groups and not all in attendance. I was uncomfortable with the choice of words as were many others. That is not appropriate for official military ceremonies. There is a place for invocations by chaplains in military ceremonies. Those secular or non-denominational invocations must be meaningful for all in attendance and must not make attendees uncomfortable and unable to enjoy the important event. Exclusionary religious invocations are not appropriate at … official events ….
September 2013 - Obama Administration Responds to a ‘We The People’ White House Petition by Citing Changes in ‘Spiritual Fitness’ Test Language and Applicability Recommended by MRFF: On December 29, 2010, the international law firm Jones Day, on behalf of MRFF and its client Sgt. Justin Griffith, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Army regarding the development and implementation of the spiritual well-being component of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program’s Soldier Fitness Tracker (SFT) and Global Assessment Tool (GAT). On December 30, 2010, Jones Day also filed a demand with the Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff to cease and desist its policy of administering this “Spiritual Fitness” test to enlisted men and women and immediately discontinue all mandatory follow-up to that component of the test. In response to these concerns, MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein was invited by and met with Dept. of Defense officials responsible for development and implementation of the SFT/GAT in Washington, DC. MRFF invited the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance to attend this meeting in support of MRFF’s position.
On October 1, 2011, Dustin Chalker, non-Theist Affairs Advisor for MRFF initiated a petition on the White House ‘We The People’ web site entitled End the Military’s Discrimination against Non-Religious Service Members. On September 20, 2013, the White House responded to this petition. The response from the Obama Administration reflects specific language (“I am a person of dignity and worth”) proposed by MRFF in conjunction with Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. This response also addresses MRFF concerns about the religious and mandatory nature of the ‘Spiritual Fitness’ test as originally implemented.
October 2013 – MRFF Submits FOIA Request Demanding All Records Pertaining to Meeting Between Dept. of Defense Officials and Christian Dominionist Leaders: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has long observed a continued cozy and incestuous relationship between an activist segment of the highest echelons of the Pentagon and noxious fundamentalist Christian organizations. To uncover details regarding this relationship, MRFF submitted a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request on September 23, 2013 demanding:
- All correspondence, emails, or other records related to the September 12, 2013 meeting at the Pentagon between representatives of the “Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition” and any Air Force or other Department of Defense personnel, including but not limited to those present at the meeting.
- All other correspondence, emails, or other records on any subject between representatives of the “Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition” and/or its constituent member organizations (including but not limited to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Family Association, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and the Family Research Council) and any Air Force or other Department of Defense personnel.
October 2013 - MRFF Exposes Close Ties Between Dominionist Groups Meeting with DoD Officials and Fundamentalist Leader Calling for Military Takeover of U.S. Government: On October 3, 2013, MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda reported in the Huffington Post on the extremely close ties between the Restore Military Religious Freedom (RMRF) coalition, RMRF coalition member the Family Research Council, and Rick Joyner, the head of MorningStar Ministries/Heritage International Ministries who proposed a “military takeover” of the U.S. Government on September 30, 2013. Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. “Jerry” Boykin, who serves as the Family Research Council’s Executive Vice President, appeared on Rick Joyner’s Prophetic Perspectives on Current Events for four of the five episodes in the week leading up to his September 30 proposal for a military takeover of the government. MRFF is working to uncover additional information regarding the relationship between these religious dominionist leaders and Department of Defense officials with a FOIA request filed on September 23, 2013 regarding a September 12, 2013 meeting between representatives of the RMRF and the DoD.
October 2013 - U.S. Air Force Academy Superintendent Removes ‘Prep-School’ Poster Containing Religious Oath After Being Contacted by MRFF: President and Founder Mikey Weinstein received a picture of a poster displayed at the USAFA Prep-School that contained the Academy’s honor code followed with an addendum stating “Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably so help me God.” Mikey immediately contacted USAFA Vice-Superintendent Colonel Tamra L. Rank regarding this blatant attempt to introduce a religious element into the approved honor code. 68 minutes later USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson emailed Mikey with the following statement:
Thanks for taking the time to talk with my Vice about this matter. This Honor Oath is one of the new things since my graduation, evidently in about 1984. Col Miller was able to bring together the Prep School and other entities on base to put together a way ahead. We’ve already directed the Honor Review Committee to fix this next week when they meet. The Prep School poster has been taken down.
November 2013 - MRFF Continues Aggressive Campaign Against Ongoing Christian Fundamentalist Extremism at the U.S. Air Force Academy: In October/2013 MRFF posted a billboard along one of the busiest thoroughfares in Colorado Springs, CO. MRFF’s purpose was to protest the continued usage of unconstitutional religious tests at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), namely the usage of the phrase “So Help Me God” within its honor oath. Neither of the Academy’s sister service schools, West Point or Annapolis, use that phrase in their respective honor codes. A second billboard was erected on November 18, 2013 focusing on a statement made by a leader at USAFA that “I am on staff at USAFA and will talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and savior to everyone that I work with.” This billboard was accompanied with the release of a 30-second video containing the USAFA leaders proselytizing statement along with MRFF statement that “The United States Air Force Academy has become a fundamentalist Christian military ministry.” This video ad began airing Nov. 19 in Colorado Springs, where the academy is located; and Pueblo, Colo.
November 2013 - MRFF Demands USAFA Immediately Fire “ex-Gay” Fundamentalist Christian Who Claimed He Could “Cure” Gays: Upon learning that the U.S. Air Force Academy was employing this anti-gay bigot, MRFF immediately sent a letter on behalf of its 27 lesbian/gay/bisexual (LGB) clients at USAFA to Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning. In this letter MRFF demands that USAFA exercises its responsibility towards the civil rights and protections of cadets, staff, and faculty, and immediately terminate the employment of “ex-gay” fraudster Dr. Mike Rosebush.
January 2014 – Christian Messaging During Official Functions at Air Force Base Halted: 13 active duty Airmen stationed at a mainland U.S. Air Force base contacted MRFF in mid-December 2013 regarding:
“…an alarming pattern emerging in the (USAF unit’s name withheld) group, permitted/encouraged by our Commander that fostered dogmatic Christian language and messages at three official functions within a four week period. This was creating an atmosphere that reeked of sectarian attitudes that implicitly harassed airmen with Christian beliefs that did not conform to these proselytizing messages as well as airmen who held other religious or non-religious views.”
As a result of MRFF’s involvement on behalf of these 13 Airmen, the majority of whom are Christian, the following actions were taken as reported by one of MRFF’s clients:
“Within 2 hours of contacting you, AF general officers at HQ in Washington D.C. at the Pentagon were mobilized. Within 5 hours the Wing commander had ordered my group commander to account for his/her actions. At the 24 hour mark all commanders on base were called to a crisis meeting to discuss religious neutrality and were required to implement immediate changes that safeguard religious neutrality. 48 hours later my group commander was apologizing to the 300+ members of the (USAF unit’s name withheld) group.”
January 2014 - U.S. Air Force Base Drop Christian Marriage Video from Mandatory Event: MRFF was contacted on January 27, 2014 by 25 Airmen (24 of whom self-identify as either Protestant or Catholic) stationed at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas regarding a mandatory-attendance “Wingman Day” that involves many instructional elements pertaining to Physical, Mental, Social, & Spiritual factors. According to an article in the Little Rock AFB Combat Airlifter, Team Little Rock is hosting this event with “Christian videos” with one of the modules labeled: “Love Happens: God’s Purpose and Plan.” Within 2 days of being contacted by MRFF, the Air Force Times reported Little Rock Air Force Base had dropped an evangelical Christian video series on marriage.
March, 2014 - U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Leader Removes Proselytizing Bible Passage Outside His Room After MRFF Client Complaints: MRFF was contacted by 29 cadets and four faculty and staff members about the posting of a Christian Bible passage outside the private room of a cadet leader. The passage from Galatians 2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” was clearly seen as a violation of Section 2.11 of Air Force Instruction (AFI) 1-1. The passage was removed by the cadet just over two hours later after this conflict was brought to his attention by USAFA leadership. During the predictable media furor that arose from this incident, Mikey clearly and concisely explained MRFF’s position on behalf of its clients to numerous media outlets: “Had it been in his room – not a problem. It’s not about the belief. It’s about the time, the place and the manner.” MRFF’s position on behalf of its clients was further justified when another client (Christian-Protestant AF Captain) shared impressions made by USAF Chief of Chaplains, Maj Gen Howard Stendahl.
April, 2014 - MRFF Intervenes on Clients’ Behalf to Make Attendance Non-Mandatory at Speaking Event by Religious Fundamentalist: MRFF was contacted by an active duty officer (deployed overseas) on behalf of he and his fellow service members who were concerned with mandatory attendance at a speaking event promoted as “moral leadership and spiritual resiliency designed to reinforce the Army Values.” The key speaker at this event was scheduled to be Southern Baptist Preacher Dr. Richard Blackaby. The active duty officer contacting MRFF stated: “I was astounded to see some of the things he happily professed: that secularism was the root of all of America’s ills, posts denigrating President Obama who is our commander-in-chief, and advocating for a definition of leadership that determined one’s success based on how deeply one accepted Jesus Christ as one’s personal lord and savior.” Because of MRFF’s actions on behalf of these clients, events became non-mandatory and official attendance would not be taken in regards to the clients, whose identity also remained anonymous.
July, 2014 - MRFF Presentation to NMANG Joint Forces Chaplain Training Event: Mikey Weinstein was invited to speak about issues of religious time, place, and purpose expectations and restrictions on July 28, 2014 at a New Mexico Army National Guard Joint Forces Chaplain Training event. Mikey’s presentation was tremendously well received and documented in a thank you letter from Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Quentin Collins who wrote:
Your message was timely in that our members had drawn conclusions as to your methodology and delivery style – strictly from what is painted of you in the media. I only asked that they be open to you and what you were saying. To this end they unanimously agreed, they were stunned that you were not out to “get them”.
…You helped launch the training to a level that it has not been before and to that end I thank you very much.
August, 2014 - MRFF Involvement Instrumental in NEXCOM Decision to End Practice of Placing Religious Materials in Navy Lodge Guest Rooms: Lauren Markoe of the Religion News Service reported that the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) issued a directive on June 19, 2014 that ends the practice of placing religious materials within guest rooms of the 40 Navy Lodge facilities operated by NEXCOM worldwide. The directive will allow religious materials to continue to be made available on a general basis at Navy Lodge facilities.
While a formal request for this action was made to NEXCOM by another organization supporting church/state separation, MRFF made repeated contacts on behalf of clients who complained about the practice of maintaining religious materials in military facilities. Objections on behalf of MRFF’s clients were made every month for several years leading up to this recent NEXCOM decision based on the clear violations of the U.S. Constitution’s establishment clause and numerous DoD Regulations which specifically prohibit religious preferences.
When asked to comment by Ms. Markoe, MRFF President Mikey Weinstein stated:
“We would be just as angry if there was a Quran or a Torah or Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion,’ [in the bedside tables of these Navy lodges]“