Mikey Weinstein on Fanatical Fundamentalists
It's "Onward, Christian Soldiers!" as the Pentagon is comandeered by the Military-Evangelical Complex.
January 2008 Issue
Warning: This interview contains strong language.
Air Force Academy graduate Mikey Weinstein was born into a military family that has served from World War I to Iraq. For three years the Republican was a Reagan White House lawyer and eventually the Iran-Contra investigation’s committee management officer. Weinstein was also Ross Perot’s general counsel. Despite his conservative background, in 2006 Weinstein established the nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and he coauthored 2007’s With God on Our Side and appeared in the documentary Constantine’s Sword. HUSTLER explores why this thorn in the Pentagon’s side warns of “an unbelievable fusing of our Defense Department with Christian dominionist dogma.”
HUSTLER: How widespread is the evangelization of America’s military?
MIKEY WEINSTEIN: The Pentagon admits we have 737 military installations. On every one there’s now an Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Some have a multiple. We understand there are as many as 39 OCF-sponsored Bible study groups at Fort Leavenworth alone. For enlisted men, there’s a Christian Military Fellowship. They’re unabashed about the goals that they regard as more important than the oaths they swore, “to support and defend the Constitution.”
The first goal is to see a spiritually transformed military. Goal number 2, [servicemen will become] ambassadors for Christ in uniform. Goal number 3, empowerment by the Holy Spirit.
Fort Leavenworth’s official Army Web site had some of the most virulent anti-Semitism imaginable. They pulled it down after we went public with it. The most popular joke at the Air Force Academy in 2004-2005 was: “Why do Jews make the best magicians? Because Jews have the ability to walk into a building and come out the smokestacks in a puff of smoke.”
The Constitutionally mandated separation of metaphysical and physical, spiritual and nonspiritual, church and state has tipped. The wall separating metaphysical and physical is gone. It’s a Pentecostal Pentagon now. There is no Department of Defense – it’s a faith-based initiative.
When did you first encounter anti-Semitism in the military?
My first year as an Academy cadet was [when] 1973’s Yom Kippur War started. I’m not the most observant Jew, but I wanted part of my paycheck given to the United Way, because I knew it included the United Jewish Appeal. I must have pissed somebody off, because I was assaulted and knocked unconscious twice within eight days. I received notes under the door with swastikas on them, threatening my life, my parents’ life.
I was 18, never given a lawyer; I was completely fucking alone. The Academy asked me to confess that I was doing this to myself – how do I beat myself up? My roommates and I watched the notes come in under the door. We literally had an Office of Special Investigations officer hiding in our closet in order to catch the culprits. I was so stunned, I did something I carried as guilt for a long time: I struck another OSI agent in his office. I started crying like a little baby, ran back to my dorm and waited to get shot. They never came after me.
I went to a cousin, who contacted the New York Times. The attacks stopped; it was an anomaly, not systemic. I was a varsity athlete, squadron commander twice, graduated with honors. I just let it go.
But years later your son has similar experiences at the Air Force Academy. Tell us about that.
The academy had just gone through a much-publicized sexual assault scandal. They fired the four top people, replaced them with others, including some born-again Christian generals. I visited the Academy and saw my youngest son, Curtis, a sophomore. He’d just finished a month of combat survival training. His brother and sister-in-law had just graduated; George W. Bush gave everybody their diplomas.
At the Academy, Curtis didn’t look good. He goes, “Dad, I’ve got to get off base.” We drove away. He’s tough – Albuquerque wrestling champ, New Mexico Eagle Scout of the Year, went to Academy prep school. We sat in a McDonald’s, and I asked, “What did you do?”
He says, “It’s not what I’ve done, Dad. It’s what I’m going to do: beat the shit out of the next person who calls me a ‘fucking Jew’ or accuses us of ‘executing Jesus.’” [Editor’s Note: Around this time, cadets had been pressured to watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.]
I went back to being 18, when they didn’t prosecute me for striking an officer. It happens again, 31 fucking years later, to my kid.
Are only Jews being targeted?
All the other Jews, Protestants, Catholics – it’s massively widespread. Five thousand members of the Marines, Navy, Army, and Air Force contacted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, begging for help. Ninety-six percent are Christians. Three-fourths are traditional Protestants, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Church of God, Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, Baptists. One-fourth of that 96% are Catholics; 4% or 5% are Jewish, Islamic, Jain, Wiccan, atheist, agnostic.
Basically, dominionist-fundamentalist-evangelical Christians are praying/preying on non-evangelicals, saying “You may have thought you were Christian, but you’re not Christian enough for us. Therefore you’ll burn eternally in the fires of…”
You can read the rest of this interview on page 106 of the January 2008 issue of Hustler Magazine, on newsstands now. It is also available on the Hustler website, and a subscription is required to read the article.