Wednesday, February 13, 2013
General Mark A. Welsh III
Chief of Staff, United States Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670
Transmitted via email and UPS Overnight Delivery
Re: [USAFA] HCX NOTAMs Religious Accommodation For the Period: February 2013
Dear General Welsh,
It is with profound bewilderment, shock, and no small amount of disgust that I write this letter to bring to your immediate attention a recent "Notice to Airmen" (NOTAM) of Religious Accommodations that was circulated by the Chaplain’s office of your alma mater and mine, the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). Contained within the February, 2013 Religious Accommodations NOTAM are links to a virulently anti-gay website known as "Judaism 101," or www.jewfaq.org. This reprehensible act represents either a regrettable gross error in judgment and scrutiny or a wretchedly intentional offense only further establishing the already universally known fact that the religious climate at USAFA remains hostile, unwelcoming, and adverse. On behalf of 21 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) USAFA cadets, faculty members, and staff who comprise its clients for this current matter, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF: www.MilitaryReligiousFreedom.org) firmly protests this foul act and demands immediate remedial action and swift punishment for all of those responsible.
The NOTAM in question is meant to inform cadets and faculty of the major religious holidays occurring in a given month, and what these holidays signify. Each holiday description is accompanied by a link to a non-governmental website. Every Jewish holiday contains a link to "Judaism 101." To quote the USAFA NOTAM (http://www.usafa.edu/hc/NOTAMs%20Feb%202013%20fpd.pdf):
Fast of Esther (Ta’anit Esther) – (21 February 2013, Thursday): Jewish: Ta’anit Esther commemorates Esther's three days of fasting in preparation for her meeting with the king.
a. Website: http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday9.htm
b. POC: Ch, Maj Joshua Narrowe
At a glance, this website that bills itself as an "online encyclopedia of Judaism" appears to be a no-frills resource offering basic information on the Jewish faith. While the website contains information about various Jewish holidays, a cursory perusal of the website’s contents indicates the perniciously hateful predilections and prejudices of its bigoted and virulently homophobic author.
Worse yet, the website isn’t even owned or managed by a remotely recognized Jewish organization or authority on theological matters of the faith, but by a mere private citizen who appears to be wholly and officially unaccredited in such definitive matters. On his "About the Author" page (http://www.jewfaq.org/author.htm), Mr. Tracey Rich states clearly that he does "not claim to be a rabbi or an expert on Judaism; I'm just a traditional, observant Jew who has put in a lot of research." In other words, the "encyclopedia’s" scribe is an admitted hobbyist and dilettante on the matter. This travesty would in itself be innocuous enough if not for the mocked-up authoritative presentation of utterly hate-filled material on his ostensibly "encyclopedic" website. Taken as a whole, this outrage is in essence no different from USAFA linking a Ramadan description to the website of an extremist Muslim, self-appointed "expert" on Islam. Indeed, an equivalent move would be to link the descriptions of Christian holidays, from a Baptist denominational perspective, to the website of Pastor Fred Phelps’ utterly despicable Westboro Baptist Church! The material on Rich’s website includes suggestions that homosexual males should be put to death as per the Torah. Additionally, it includes a speciously hideous comparison of the originating cause of homosexuality to that of kleptomania. This disgrace is an open slap in the face to all lesbian, gay, and bisexual USAFA cadets, faculty, and staff. Additionally, the website contains the absurd and perverse notion that males who masturbate should have their hands chopped off. Quoting just a portion of Mr. Rich’s barbaric explanation of sexuality in regards to the Jewish faith:
Sexual relations between men are clearly forbidden by the Torah. (Lev. 18:22). Such acts are condemned in the strongest possible terms, as abhorrent. The only other sexual sin that is described in such strong terms is the sin of remarrying a woman you had divorced after she had been married to another man. (See Deut. 24:4). The sin of sexual relations between men is punishable by death (Lev. 20:13), as are the sins of adultery and incest….I have seen some modern Orthodox sources suggest that if homosexuality is truly something hardwired in the brain, as most gay activists suggest, then a man who acts upon that desire is not morally responsible for his actions, but I am not sure how wide-spread that opinion is. In any case, it is not quite as liberal a position as some would have you believe: essentially, it is equivalent to saying that a kleptomaniac would not be held morally responsible for stealing.
Jewish law clearly prohibits male masturbation...Jewish law takes a very broad view of the acts prohibited by this passage, and forbids any act of ha-sh'cha'tat zerah (destruction of the seed), that is, ejaculation outside of the vagina. In fact, the prohibition is so strict that one passage in the Talmud states, "in the case of a man, the hand that reaches below the navel should be chopped off." (Niddah 13a)
General Welsh, I hope you are as thunderstruck as I am about this debacle of debasement. This webpage ironically notes a specific warning that its viewers should "please exercise appropriate discretion," something the USAFA chaplain’s office completely and miserably failed to do when it circulated links to this vile website. Considering the shockingly hateful nature of this "USAFA-approved" website's material, and the fact that Mr. Rich openly admits that he's not a Rabbi or any other type of accredited or recognized expert on Judaism, one must seriously question why an allegedly esteemed academic institution such as the United States Air Force Academy chose to use this heinous website as a definitive and comprehensive, universal reference for that particular faith? This perversity is like the 13th stroke of a crazy clock that casts grave doubt not only upon that 13th hour but also every hour that preceded it. Indeed, the inclusion of the jewfaq.org links calls into very serious question the dubious professionalism and/or intentions of the NOTAM compilers, as well as the "wisdom" of the Chaplain’s office, recently honored as USAFA's "Team of the Quarter" (Q4, 2012) for its heavily criticized, exclusionary 2012 "Religious Tolerance and Diversity Conference." This disingenuous and transparent propaganda event abjectly refused to invite non-theists, despite having invited them just two years prior – the only other time such a "religious diversity" conference has been held at USAFA. But it hardly stops there. This very same quantum of suspicion and mistrust is also directed at the administrators and commanders at USAFA, and the entire USAF chain of command leading up to your very own office, General Welsh, at the Pentagon. Given the substantial "unconstitutional train wreck" history of the oppressive religious climate at USAFA and the gross indecency of the nefarious published content on the website, MRFF fervently and immediately demands that links to the website no longer be used forthwith as educational reference points for matters of the Jewish faith. Furthermore, MRFF demands that those parties responsible for this ignominious disaster face swift and decisive corrective measures of punishment for their world-class malfeasance or misfeasance.
There is a saying, General Welsh: "Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is completely indistinguishable from malice."
Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq.
Founder and President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Michael B. Donley, Secretary, United States Air Force
Lt. Gen. Richard C. Harding, Judge Advocate General (TJAG), United States Air Force
Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, Superintendent, United States Air Force Academy
Maj. Gen. Howard Stendahl, Chief of Chaplain, United States Air Force
Edith A. Disler, Lt. Col. (USAF) Ret., MRFF Director for LGBT Affairs