“Creating Animosity Where None Exists” – Plus MRFF’s Rick Baker Responds

Published On: March 22, 2010|Categories: MRFF's Inbox|0 Comments|

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MRFF,

I am writing you in about the the article about tactical scopes that we encountered in Iraq with the Biblical references on them.  First of all, I have no business interest with any military weapons and equipment or religious group.  I am also a Lebanese Druze-American by birth and American armed forces veteran of the U.S. Navy and DoD civilian veteran of OIF, Multi-National Forces-West where I served with the Marines in Al-Anbar, Iraq.  Though I was born in the United States, I have enough language and cultural knowledge of the region that I was able to interact with the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Army.

I am concerned that your claim that Bible verses on these tactical scopes had endangered American troops and supposedly contributed toward the recruitment of Islamic combatants.  Making such statements is dangerously taking your anti-religious views a little too far.  The Iraqi people are not stupid and they don’t appear to have been offended as much by these products as your organization and other anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, and anti-Islamic Westerners in general.  In fact, this was not even an issue until … you and your organization … pressed your agenda using the media as a conduit to do so.

While I don’t condone proselytizing any more than you, it is important that you know that the Iraqi troops were/are very happy with our equipment and even appear intrigued with that “other” Abrahamic faith, Christianity, though even if from afar.  The last thing needed now are Westerners among us needlessly driving a wedge between ourselves and our moderate Islamic Iraqi allies for the sake of a personal agenda.  If it is your goal to prevent warriors from expressing their religious views within reason, then you will be one very busy and frustrated organization.  However, since we are a nation involved in what may be one of the epic struggles of our time, that of defeating a global jihad being waged against us and the Western world, I might suggest that you utilize your tenacity, organizational skills, and influence to find a way to aid in our efforts instead of working against us by by creating animosity where none exists.  Thank you for you time.

Please forward as necessary.

(name withheld)
Operation Iraqi Freedom, Multi-National Forces-West  2006/07


Rick Baker’s Response:

Dear (name withheld),

Thank you for your most informative e-mail  which has been forwarded to me.  My name is Rick Baker and I am a regional coordinator for MRFF.  I hope to assuage your concerns and perhaps set straight any misunderstandings about MRFF and our mission.

First let me thank you for your service to America. As a former Air Force officer, pilot and Vietnam veteran  I feel a special kinship for those who have unselfishly placed themselves in harms way for  the safety and security of the American people and our friends and allies around the world. As the son of Italian and Irish immigrants and the fortunate recipient of the character building  customs traditions and teachings of the old country coupled with the opportunities, freedoms and   joys of American life, I can certainly identify  with your multi-national heritage and your dedication to our democracy.

Your insight on the Trijicon gun sight  episode is very valuable in that it provides input on a facet of the case that has not always been addressed in a dispassionate fashion. Most of the dissenting letters we have received were really caustic and very defensive, indeed, relative to   this issue.

Our claim that the Christian Biblical references stamped on the gun sights could be dangerous for our troops was not ours alone. A number of others, including those in the  chain of command were in fact very disturbed by that possibility.

We looked at it  through the prism of our experience with  Islam  and it’s often aggressive, even deadly responses to the proximity of those of differing religions to their holy lands and the evangelical incursions made by some of our chaplains and  their followers in which thousands of Christian Bibles printed in Pashto and Dari, supplied by Dominionist organizations stateside  with military devices and camouflage covers appearing on them were earmarked  for distribution in both Iraq and Afghan theaters.  Add these events to the gun sight  fiasco and it further exacerbates the possibility of retribution.

I am encouraged by your  feeling that Iraqis could have a friendly curiosity toward  America’s Christian custom as many of us do about Islam but I am frankly not convinced that it is a widespread phenomenon  and would assume that some, if not the majority, might react violently if confronted with such an obvious effort to make the Iraq and Afghan Wars  a Christian crusade.  Frankly, the bulk of communications we receive from around the country tell us that they believe these military actions in the Mid East to be just that. Air and ground forces in the Mid east with whom I have had contact  do not seem to fully share your optimism.

It is important to remember that nothing becomes an issue until  it is disclosed. The Gun Sights themselves, which by the way are excellent optical devices which we could ill afford to lose, were known by many US soldiers before MRFF became aware of them. The weapons on which they were mounted became known as the “Fire Arms of Jesus”  and later, “Jesus Rifles.”   Our allies were also issued these sights and were extremely upset when the Biblical messages were disclosed.  Truly, one could hardly call the discontinued use of weapons with Christian biblical verse references stamped on them, employed  primarily to kill Muslims,  “keeping our warriors from expressing their religious views within reason.”

I am afraid the “wedge” you speak of possibly being driven between us and our “moderate” Muslim allies by MRFF was driven home years ago when our then president  identified the Iraq war as a “Holy Crusade.”  In addition, if one becomes aware of a such an obvious attempt to stir up religious animosity  as the Christian Biblical references stamped on the gun sights, is it not our duty to expose it and try to ameliorate the damage?

MRFF’s mission is to detect and diffuse  coercive Christian (or other)  proselytizing in the armed forces, which has reached alarming levels and many of our young men and women  subject to command influence in that regard.  MRFF is not anti-religious but rather religion neutral.  We oppose only aggressive and unconstitutional  evangelizing by any religious body but the primary offender at this time is a movement known as “Dominion Christianity” or “Christian Reconstructionism”

Operatives of this movement have become well entrenched  in the military  and our service academies. Campus Crusade for Christ Military Mission,  Focus on the Family, Officer’s Christian Fellowship,  The Navigators, the Christian Embassy and many others  are engaged in merciless proselytizing of our troops and cadets.

We are currently addressing over 16,000 client case complaints  of such overt and coercive proselytizing , with many of the complainants desperate to obtain relief from incessant, threatening and  disconcerting attempts to convert non-Christians  or upgrade  Christians to a higher level of obedience to facilitate  an eventual  Christian  fighting force  with proximity, opportunity and proficiency to weapons of immense destructive power. This  ostensibly for the purpose of achieving Christian  world supremacy as set forward by Dominionist leaders.

MRFF certainly exercises  what  influence we have in the betterment of our armed forces and the support of the US Constitution, to which we, like you,  have given our solemn oath to uphold. Wherein a conflict arises between this honored document and  the purposeful  and exclusive exercise of religious hegemony,  we must opt for supporting  that revered paper and the American people to whom it guarantees their civil rights.  Narrow religious doctrine is not a staple of American democracy.   All religions may flourish in our great republic but none may dominate irrespective  of its majority.

The principals at Trijicon have admitted that stamping Bible Verse References on their sights was  ill conceived and was indeed an effort to advance Christian  doctrine, primarily at the behest of  their deceased founder and corporate president  who was,  may I say, deeply immersed in his Christian faith and oblivious to the  possible negatives of his actions.  As an official government contractor  Trijicon made the US Government complicit in the distribution and proselytizing of Christian materials specifically prohibited by CENTCOM General Order #1 signed by  General Petreus, not to mention the constitutional implications. I am happy to say the government will retain Trijicon but no further religious stamping  will be done and kits to remove the existing  references will be sent to units in possession of the sights.

A person of your experience and service to America would be valuable  addition to our MRFF membership and could be instrumental in helping to address the problems generated  by the overly dominant religious groups which seek to bastardize our constitution and soil  the patriotic goals of our armed forces.

I would like to invite you to view our web site at militrayreligiousfreedom.org for more information  on MRFF and our pursuits.

Thank you again for your letter. I will be happy to answer any further questions you may have.

Rick Baker
MRFF

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