Military Religious Freedom Foundation Protecting the Constitutional Guarantee of Separation of Church and State in the United States Military Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:57:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 HUFFINGTON POST BLOGS – Religious Accommodation – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:56:08 +0000 Selected Article Excerpts:

  • What is happening to the Military is that the chaplaincy has been taken over by ultra conservative Christians who not only object to these cultural changes, but who see the armed services as a mission for Jesus. While they make up 18 percent of the Force, they have 63 percent of the chaplains. It is these chaplains who want unfettered access to be able to publically ostracize LGB service members, and also proselytize aggressively, without restriction. They are looking to their allies in Congress to aid and abet them.
  • What these members of Congress don’t seem to understand, or more likely don’t care about, is that the military chaplaincy is different from ministry in the civilian world. As one chaplain endorser and member of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy recently stated:

Click here to read more

Click here to read Mikey’s Op-Ed

]]> 0
Ohio Air National Guard – Actions of National Guard Commander Col. Craig R. Baker Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:27:13 +0000 Governor Kasich,

I read a recent call to action by the American Liberty Association (ALA) attacking the actions of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and the proper response by Ohio National Guard Commander Col. Craig R. Baker. The ALA’s logic is horrifyingly twisted, but not unusual. It misuses the banner of religious liberty to co-opt the command structure of the military in order to proselytize its brand of religion. The ALA tactic in fact abuses those who desire to practice their religion in their own way and without corrosion from the command structure. The ALA advocates the use the government in the exact way the First Amendment’s drafters feared when they wrote the Establishment Clause. The clause is meant to be a shield against the majorities’ use of government, not a sword to enforce majority views. The ALA’s jihad against the First Amendment and personal freedom should frighten you as much as it does me.

While I am not a domiciliary of Ohio, neither is the ALA and most of its members. So I feel free to ask you to support the separation of church and state the way our Founding Fathers intended.

xxxx x. xxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxx, Louisiana

]]> 0
“Conservative” Reporter Tweets That Mikey Should Be Censored Tue, 25 Nov 2014 00:47:52 +0000 0 Mr. Jewstein goes to Washington Sun, 23 Nov 2014 14:32:11 +0000 Who you think you are? You want to stop our American soldiers from spreading The Word of our Savior to all others with ears to hear? Over my dead body JEWdas mikie weinstein. Better yet over the dead bodies of your jew wife and jew children pray Christ to take them soon. Keep your jew disease out of Congress mikey. You comanded to bend your knees and confess Jesus your Savior before it is too late. Romans 14:11. We hate your evil sins but love you as a sinner. You are the number one sinner against our Lord Jesus in America. Everyone know and you can’t hide form us or Jesus. Surrender to Christ or be in hells flames for all time.

(name withheld)

Oh my, (name withheld),

Does (name withheld) mean you’re 4 years old? That, at least, would explain the utter foolishness of this inane message.

If not, as I fear to be the case, if in fact you have reached the age of majority while retaining the intelligence of a 4 year old, let me explain that the tone and content of your message is an insult to four-year-olds the world over and then attempt to respond as thoughtfully as I can to your embarrassing self-indictment.

Mikey Weinstein knows very well who he is. And those of us who are proud to work with and support him against the attacks of the vulgarians and troglodytes know who he is as well. But sometimes we find ourselves wondering who people like you are. How is it, in the United States of America in the 21st Century, someone as courageous and patriotic as Mikey Weinstein has to live with the knowledge that there are people out there so ignorant of reality and so lost in their desire for meaning that they allow themselves to root around in the fecal matter of their own lives trying for find a way to make themselves feel like they matter and, failing that, lash out at others? I know it makes Mikey sad to know that you live in such pain. It makes me sad, as well. The idea that you’d stoop to the level of despair necessary to lash out frantically against someone you clearly know nothing about in a meaningless and pitiful attempt to make someone else feel as awful about themselves as you do about yourself is a sign of sickness in our society. People like you can be helped, but it takes courage to face the fact of your own emptiness. Doing so is step one.

While we continue our work to protect the freedom of religious choice of the women and men in the military, please know that some among our number will offer prayerful thoughts that you find the courage necessary to rise above the meaninglessness of your life and discover the joy of possibility that many of the people in the Christian faith you have above claimed for yourself have found.

One hopes…

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

]]> 0
Where Are You Going? Sat, 22 Nov 2014 17:11:58 +0000 To Mikey Weinstein,

I would like to ask you a simple question: where are you going with your “religious freedom” quest? From what I have read and seen I am not seeing religious freedom as much as I see freedom from religion. I don’t need religion as much as I need God to be in my life. Why are you seeking to remove the ability of any troop or troops to seek their God in the way that they want? You seem to be intent on removing God from any military member’s life. At the same time you are removing their first amendment right of free speech while we have to listen to your idea of free speech. You seem to want Godless troops protecting a country, my country, that has been established upon His Word by our founding fathers. Where are you going? And why do you want to go there and lead others there by your intentions which are not God’s will?

(name withheld)

Good Day, (name withheld) –

Mikey Weinstein has received and read your email, and he’s asked me to provide a response. I am a Christian, USAFA graduate (’85), and AF veteran.

You’ve asked a simple question, so I’ll respond with a simple answer and then expand upon it.


Question – “Where are you going with your ‘religious freedom’ quest?’

Answer – MRFFs goal is to ensure that all members of the US military fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they are entitled.


With respect, if what you’ve “read and seen” about MRFF suggests that we seek to remove religion from the military, then your sources are biased at best. That is no reflection on you — when I first heard of MRFF, I thought the same thing. So my first approach to the organization was from a fairly critical angle. I thought (wrongly, it turns out) that MRFF was opposed to people of faith like myself. I’ve since learned this is not the case.

MRFF is not anti-religion — we are pro-Constitution. Our sole focus is to assist military members who contact us with concerns about their own religious liberty. As you well know from your own military career, the hierarchical nature of the military is such that the words and actions of leaders carry significant weight. And of course, that also means that subordinates cannot necessarily ignore or deflect a leader who is intent on sharing something with them. So when a military member finds himself in a situation where he faces unwelcome or inappropriate proselytizing, he sometimes needs an advocate to speak on his behalf — that is the role of MRFF.

If you’ve spent any time on the MRFF website, you may have seen the mission statement that spells out the goals of MRFF. If you’ve not seen that information yet, I encourage you to check it out. From that list, one particular item describes where we spend the majority of our time —

” No member of the military may be compelled to endure unwanted religious proselytization, evangelization or persuasion of any sort in a military setting and/or by a military superior or civilian employee of the military.”

This is an important item to consider, because it points to the difference between (a.) religious belief/practice, and (b.) religious expression. We believe that every military member, at every level, has a Constitutional right to his own religious belief and practice. But due to the superior/subordinate hierarchy, we believe that every leader/superior also has an obligation to consider the time, place and manner of expressing a personal religious belief, and must take care to ensure that such an expression is not presented in way that uses their position or color of authority.

Toward the end of your note, you make reference to a belief that America was founded upon Christianity. While this is a commonly held misconception among Christians, I’d point out that our Constitution is not a Christian document, and the liberties and freedoms that it offers extend equally to all Americans of all beliefs (including non-belief). America is a very diverse country in many ways, including religion. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen reflect that diversity and are entitled to live and work in an environment where their religious convictions are respected. Equally importantly, military members should be confident that their personal religious beliefs will not adversely impact their perceived value (and future) within the organization or in the eyes of their leaders.

Thanks again for writing.


Mike Challman

Christian, AF Veteran, MRFF Supporter

Thank you for your response Mike on behalf of Mikey. You are right in that I had not reviewed much of your websites information. Some time ago I watched an interview with someone from Fox News and Mikey. I cannot recall all of what was being discussed but I do remember that I was unimpressed with Mikey’s replies to the questions and held that “first impression” of negativity when I wrote my email yesterday. I was incorrect in some of my comments that leaned toward taking away religious freedom. I have since read background on the cases that your organization has brought in response to complaints by military members. That information brought back tidbits of the Fox News interview with Mikey. You can probably tell that I am a Christian from my not so accurate comments in my initial email. I do not remember being forced to endure any training program that included scripture from the Bible. I do remember being held in the face of diversity but only with the attention diffuse the tension between blacks and whites; yes, I am that old. I believe that our Constitution gives us certain freedoms but tell me exactly where it states that there will be separation of church and state. That has been a liberal interpretation of the Constitution limiting government from promoting a specific religion for American citizens: a state religion for all of us. You know as well as I do that that part of the Constitution has been beat to death by so many people who want to remove any mention of God from government at all levels.

I am working in the opposite direction and want God and His influence back into our land, schools and government. I am a fairly new evangelical Christian, non-denominational. Brought up as a Catholic I had never even opened a Bible, now I live with the Word. I don’t force my beliefs on anyone unless they ask about the awesome church that I attend and has brought me to a personal relationship with God but not with a ritualistic religion. Some of my last positions in my Air Force career had me (and I am not saying this with pride) relieve AF chaplains from their jobs for unmentionable character traits. So I suppose that I had been supporting the MRFF in some ways. Again, I thank you for your response and for getting me to read more background about MRFF and its real quests. Good luck with your endeavors.

(name withheld)

]]> 0
THE BLAZE – Congressman Confronts Military Activist in Heated Exchange Over ‘Fundamentalist Christian Monsters’ Quote During Religious Freedom Hearing Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:15:53 +0000 Selected Article Excerpt:

Sparks briefly flew Wednesday when Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a First Amendment group, appeared before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee to discuss complications and confusion surrounding religious freedom in the U.S. military.

Weinstein, known for his sometimes fiery rhetoric when staunchly advocating the separation of church and state, was confronted by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), who questioned some of Weinstein’s past statements about Christian factions he opposes.

Click to read more

]]> 0
DAILY KOS – Evangelical military chaplains, the 800 pound gorilla Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:53:56 +0000 Selected Article Excerpts:

  • On Tuesday there was a US House of Representatives Armed Forces Committee hearing onReligious Accommodations in the Armed Services.  It lasted over 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  • Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was one of the witnesses and he leads the fight for the separation of church and state in the military.  Something that many do not believe in.
  • One of the major issues discussed had to do with a chaplain’s own freedom of religion, for example, if a military chaplain performs a funeral for a service person, should the chaplain adapt the sermon to the religious beliefs or lack thereof of the service person  or should the chaplain be able to say the same things as he would say if conducting the service to a group of his or her own faith?  Should the chaplain be able to say “Jesus died for our sins” at a Buddhist funeral?
    Since chaplains are promoted into service by their own faith, is any restriction in what they say not a limitation on their own freedom of expression?

Click to read more


]]> 0
Well Done Mikey and the MRFF (from a retired flag officer in D.C.) Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:29:36 +0000 To: Mr. Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,

As Mr. Weinstein knows, I’m a senior, retired flag officer (Admiral or General) living currently in the Wash. D.C. area. I, and others similarly situated in former rank and position like me here in D.C., are ardent MRFF supporters and help the MRFF in the ways and means we can. Having had the chance now to watch the live internet broadcast of, and discuss, Wednesday’s Congressional hearing with a few of my former senior military colleagues (incidently all of us, but one, are Christians ourselves by the way), I wanted to briefly summarize our thoughts:

(1) The entire hearing was a disgrace to the Constitution which I defended and all others in the military still defend. No surprise.

(2) The Congressional Mbrs. tried their best to not allow the MRFF message to get out. Cowards. Again, no surprise.

(3) They failed to accomplish #2 above as both Mr. Weinstein’s opening statement and MRFF’s extensive submitted testimony were right on target and are now both part of the official Cong. Record forever.

(4) Mr. Weinstein’s verbal confrontations with Cong. Jones of N. Carolina and Cong. Forbes of Va. more than carried the day for those who knew what was going on between those Cong. Members and their puppets on the panel.

(5) Bravo Zulu/Oorah to Mikey and the MRFF for heading bravely into this House Armed Services Comm. farce/ambush and exposing for all of educated mind to see the true religious fanaticism of my own Chrisitan faith which plagues DoD here and abroad every day.

(name withheld)

]]> 0
Why Do You Hate Christians? Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:07:57 +0000 Dear Mr. “Mikey” Weinstein,

I would really like to know why you hate us Christians Mikey, is it because some overzealous Christian “peed in your Wheaties” as I like to say when you were a cadet at the Air Force Academy, did they call you a Christ killer? I will be the first to admit that “some” Christians are overzealous in their witnessing techniques, but to label all Christians as being like the Taliban or ISIS or fundamentalist and a threat to national security is like labeling all Muslims as radical terrorists.

I am sorry that one or two overzealous Christians offended you in some way, but it seems to me that you have had a chip on your shoulder for years now being unwilling to forgive, which is not only a Christian thing to do but also a Jewish thing to do. As some “Christians” may give Christianity a bad name by their actions and I would agree who would want to become one, but your actions are just as disingenuous and who would want to convert to Judaism by viewing your actions towards Christians, who would want to become a Jew?

Your constant attacks on Christians and litigation against our guaranteed rights to our freedom of religion are more examples of radical Islam and you could be misconstrued as wanting to wipe Christianity out just like radical Muslims.

I am sorry that you and your children were the victims of alleged Christian anti-Semitism and that is something I abhor and fight to correct within the Church today, speaking out loudly against it, but to hold this offense against some while blaming all is just wrong.

While I am not a lawyer, yet I know that the expression “separation of church and state” while wrongly being cited as if found in one of our countries legal documents, which you will never find it in any, has become the anti-Christian’s “race card” that is played when Christians wish to express their guaranteed religious freedoms. I would hope you would familiarize yourself more with the origins of this statement and realize that it does not say or mean what some activist judge turned into what he thought it meant.

I have many Jewish friends, some Messianic and some not who would support the notion that Christians can and should serve in our military and have the freedom to express their religious point of view without the fear of being castigated or penalized for it in any way.

I watched the final half hour of the House Armed Services Committee meeting you were a part of and commend the House for recognizing that when a Christian or any other faith person expresses their freedom of religion it is not considered coercion by any means. I was very happy to see the Committee call you on the carpet for your inflammatory remarks about Christians and call it for what it is coercion of another kind.

My prayer, yes in Jesus’ name, is that you and your family have the blindness put there by G-d be removed to finally see that Yeshua is your one and only true Messiah, who came once to die for your sins along with the world, and who will come again to establish His earthly kingdom when He sits on the throne of His father David in Jerusalem, whereby every knee will then bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!


(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),

Mikey has read your email and asked me to respond to you as an Advisory Board Member of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and as an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God.

Why did you put quotes around Mikey? To denigrate his name?

It seems that you have a very limited knowledge of Mikey and his background.

While Mikey was in the Air Force Academy, they did more than “peed in his Wheaties” and called him a Christ killer. He was severely beaten and left for dead twice; once while having a body guard.

How dare you assume that he’s had a chip in his shoulder for years being unwilling to forgive? He did forgive, never pressed charges, graduated from and went on to become a JAG Officer at the Academy for 10 years.

I find it highly offensive that you attack him for being Jewish or not Jewish enough to suit you because he stands up for the religious rights for all of our soldiers under the Constitution, case laws and military law.

We are not anti-Christian. Mikey is Jewish and 75% of the Board, Advisory Board, volunteers and supporters of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 39,000+ soldier clients (1 does represent 100 and 1 can represent 50) are Christians – – Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodist, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, etc.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) does NOT act on its own but at the request of the soldiers’ complaints of the blatant disregard and trampling of the Constitution and the Military Code of Justice; blurring the lines between the separation of church and state. Every complaint is vetted by Mikey before he takes it on.

We are an agent- intermediator – for the soldiers whose valid complaints are not heard. When the military oversteps the bounds laid down by our Constitution and military law, we step in.

You stated:

“I was very happy to see the Committee call you on the carpet for your inflammatory remarks about Christians and call it for what it is coercion of another kind.”

Then you must be thrilled with this statement:

US Army chaplain MAJ James Linzey, who, in a 1999 video, described mainstream Protestant churches as “demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell “that should be “stomped out.”

This statement comes from an Evangelical/Fundamental/Dominionist Christian who is only one of the Dominionists that have hijacked our military in order to turn every soldier into a “warrior for Christ”, a “government paid missionary” and that every war is a “Crusade.” They believe that they must cleanse the earth of all the mainline Christians (see above), those of other faiths and those of no faith so that Jesus can come back and rule for 1,000 years. This thinking throws out the book of Revelations where Jesus said he is coming back with His “heavenly army.”

Our soldiers (including Christians) suffer in-your-face religious proselytizing by the Dominionists on a daily basis. They are harassed; given poor performance ratings; advancements withheld; put on “point” in our war zones and drummed out of the military on trumped up charges all in the name of Jesus, because they will not convert to their Dominionist sect.

We don’t fight against all Christians…just the Dominionists. As stated above, the majority of our complaints come from Christians which makes us the biggest defender of Christian rights in our military.

As far as the separation of church and state goes, he is a few quotes from our Founding Fathers:

“The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.” Founding Father James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

“Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.” Founding Father James Madison, letter, 1822

“Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.” Founding Father James Madison; Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments

“Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320.

This is his second known use of the term “wall of separation,” here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter.

This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause.

“Jefferson’s concept of “separation of church and state” first became a part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878). In that case, the court examined the history of religious liberty in the US, determining that while the constitution guarantees religious freedom, “The word ‘religion’ is not defined in the Constitution. We must go elsewhere, therefore, to ascertain its meaning and nowhere more appropriately, we think, than to the history of the times in the midst of which the provision was adopted.” The court found that the leaders in advocating and formulating the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty were James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Quoting the “separation” paragraph from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, the court concluded that, “coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured.”

The religion of the majority in our military does not rule over other religions or those of no religious preference under the Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment (Establishment Clause) of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise (Free Exercise Clause) thereof . . . “(1st Amendment)

The Establishment Clause comes before the Free Exercise Clause for a reason; the Free Exercise Clause is subservient to theEstablishment Clause – not the other way around as some Christians would like it to be.

The Supreme Court heard the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the Establishment Clause.

Subsequent to this decision, the Supreme Court has applied a three-pronged test to determine whether government action comports with the Establishment Clause, known as the “Lemon Test”

Lemon Test:

1. Any law or policy must have been adopted with a neutral or non-religious purpose.

2. The principle or primary effect of any law or policy must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion.

3. The statute or policy must not result in an “excessive entanglement” of government with religion.

If any government entity’s actions fit into one of these three, then it is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

The hearing that was held today was a farce and those witnesses that spoke in favor of free speech (proselytizing) do not represent all Christians as they would like people to believe.

Mikey had to give to the Armed Services Committee a lengthy letter on what he wanted to speak. He was not called on for his side of the story because it would have been in the permanent record. I have attached it here for your perusal and I’m sure you will have a different perspective on what actually goes on in our military.

Christians that write to us in anger don’t realize that they have been duped into supporting an extreme fringe of Christianity by their use of omission, deception and outright lies.

I suggest you go to our website and click on About and then click on Foundation Voices. You will be surprised to see that we have military people all the way to a Brigadier General, Governors, religious people and honorable people of all walks of life including a Noel Peace Prize winner. MRFF has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 7 times in 6 years.

I hope this email and Mikey’s letter help you see that we are not anti-Christians.

Pastor Joan

MRFF Advisory Board Member

Oh look what I found “Pastor Joan” very interesting reading I might say.

(name withheld)

> Good Day, (name withheld) -
> I understand that you are already having dialogue with some of my fellow MRFF volunteers, so it’s not my intention to “pile on” in any way. I hope that you will accept my input in the spirit in which I offer it. Specifically, I would like to share my perspective as an active, lifelong Christian, USAF Academy graduate (’85), and Air Force veteran. Also, my own initial approach to MRFF was from a fairly critical direction.
> For clarity, I think it may be helpful to provide some direct (and hopefully unambiguous) statements of what I believe, with regard to religious liberty in the military and the mission of MRFF. While I am responding to you on behalf of MRFF, of course, I find that it can be illuminating to offer a more personal perspective.
> To that end, here are four fundamental statements that summarize why I have become active in this issue (and by extension, why I support the efforts of MRFF):
> #1 – I believe that from the perspective of the US military, as guided by our Constitution, all religious beliefs (including non-belief) are entitled to ‘equal status’. In other words, there can be no prominence or preference given to any one sectarian belief, over all others, within the military command structure.
> #2 – I believe that every member of the US military, at all levels, has a Constitutional right to his personal religious beliefs (including non-belief). Further, each member has a right to live and work in an environment free of any interference, pressure, or promotion of other sectarian religious beliefs.
> #3 – I believe that because of the strict hierarchical structure of the military, leaders at every level have an obligation to avoid using their position or the color of their authority to promote, favor, or proselytize a personal religious belief to their subordinates. That does not mean that leaders can never express their personal beliefs – but it does mean that they need to be cognizant of the time, place, and manner of expression.
> #4 – I believe that sometimes military leaders miss the mark regarding the appropriate time, place, and manner of religious expression. They may say or do something that could cause a subordinate to question the leader’s impartiality with respect to the subordinate’s own religious belief (or unbelief). Or they may allow another member of their organization to do so.
> ——————–
> The objections that I usually hear to my first two statements generally fall into two buckets. First, some people will say that because their particular belief is “true”, then it deserves special prominence. Or conversely, that anyone who follows a “false” belief system is not entitled to equal status. The problem with that school of thought is that everyone feels their particular belief is “true”, so it’s an impossible standard to follow. Simply put, our military is not equipped to be the arbiter of sectarian disagreements, nor should it be.
> The other objection I often here comes from our fellow Christians, who propose that Christianity is deserving of special treatment because America is a “Christian nation”. There is not room in this reply to fully rebut that incorrect assertion. But I will point out, at least, that America is a very diverse country in terms of religious beliefs — and our soldiers, sailors, and airmen reflect that diversity. Each is entitled to serve his country honorably, without surrendering his religious convictions, and more importantly without feeling that his own religious convictions may undermine his value (and future) within his military organization or in the eyes of his leaders.
> Regarding my third statement, the most frequent objection invariably goes like this — “Every American has a right to express his religious beliefs and, if someone else doesn’t like it, they cannot listen or just walk away. It’s freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.” I agree that this is the case if we are talking about two neighbors, or two guys in a bar, or two civilian co-workers, or two civilian college students who live in the same dormitory. In each of those cases, the relationship between the two parties is equitable — but that is not the case with military relationships. Because of the very strict authoritarian structure of a military organization, subordinates often don’t have the ability to “not listen or just walk away.” The superior-subordinate relationship that is emblematic of our military really has no parallel in civilian society. So what may appear relatively benign when viewed through a civilian lens can look quite different from a military point of view. Similarly, those who offer the objection that I noted sometimes seem to miss the point that both the leader and the subordinate are entitled to “freedom OF religion”. So every military leader needs to take care that their own claim to that freedom does not create a difficult environment for his subordinates.
> Finally, as to my fourth statement I will say that, as an ardent Christian myself, I tend to assume that most military leaders who make this misstep often have good intentions. I recall a time when I was an Air Force officer, and I put a bumper sticker on my personal car that said, “Know Jesus, Know Peace — No Jesus, No Peace.” Someone whose opinion I value challenged me about it, saying that I needed to consider what message I was sending to my subordinates when I parked that car in front of our squadron. After some thought, prayer, and reflection, I concluded that there was a reasonable chance that subordinates who are not Christian could be concerned about how I viewed their character and perhaps even their judgment, if they did not agree with my belief. So I took the sticker off my car.
> I didn’t stop expressing my religious beliefs in the way that I treated others, in how I strove to be a servant leader, and in how I tried to imbue all of my thoughts, words, actions and attitude with God’s grace and love. It was not an issue of my right to my beliefs — it was about whether I was expressing that belief in an appropriate time, place and manner. And I believe strongly that in today’s debate about religious expression in the military, there is a common but erroneous conflation of belief and expression – they are not the same thing. As the old adage goes (usually wrongly attributed to St Francis of Assisi but still a good quote) — “Preach the Gospel at all time; use words when necessary”.
> ——————–
> I’ll close with some thoughts about Mikey Weinstein. Your email indicates that you are put off by his aggressive style. I will freely admit that I was a bit put off by it as well, before I got more involved with MRFF. After learning more about Mikey and about the fight that he is in, here is what I concluded:
> Is Mikey confrontational? Yes. Undiplomatic? Yup. Strident and unyielding? You bet. But as I’ve watched him work during the time that I’ve been involved with MRFF, I am invariably reminded of the Old Testament prophets who often acted in ways that were “off-putting” as they proclaimed their message. In a very real sense, Mikey is doing something similar as he works to make people aware that the Constitutional rights of all military members need to be protected. Thankfully, Mikey is not wandering naked, or eating a scroll, or fastening a cattle yolk to his back. But what he is doing is offering a frank and unambiguous statement about something in which he strongly believes (as do I). My own style is much different than Mikey’s, but I wonder how much attention his message would get in today’s crowded media universe if he was politely whispering? I can also tell you that, whether you agree with his style or not, you won’t find a more sincere, genuine and honorable man anywhere.
> MRFF is not “anti-Christian” — we are pro-Constitution. If it appears that Christians seem to get a lot of attention, I would only suggest that it is because Christians are making this error more than anyone else. Not all Christians, mind you. There is a small but active subset of Christendom that believes that Christianity should have dominion over all institutions, including our government and military. It is that sort of Dominion theology that is problematic when it comes to Constitutional protections for military members of all beliefs (including non-belief).
> Thanks again for writing to express your concerns.
> Peace,
> Mike Challman
> Christian, AF Veteran, MRFF Supporter

]]> 0
THIS WEDNESDAY! Mikey, MRFF to Testify Before House Armed Services Committee! Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:11:15 +0000 Dear Mikey,

I just finished reading your electronic PDF of your testimony to the military services subcommittee of the U.S. Congress dated today (11/19/14), and I would like to share a couple of reactions. First, WOW! You must’ve been a helluva JAG officer. Second, (seriously) I wish you could have taught my Constitutional history courses in college. Third, I wish everyone in the public sphere communicated as well as you. Fourth, regarding the content of your testimony, I say with my active duty and retired friends in the USMC, OORAH! Keep up the good work, brother.

(name withheld)

]]> 0