Second Amendment vs. First Amendment?
BOYKIN: “We need to realize that Islam itself is not just a religion – it is a totalitarian way of life… It should not be protected under the First Amendment…”
MRFF Calls on Nat’l Rifle Association to Show Constitutional Consistency, Distance Itself From Dangerous Bigots Such as Boykin
April 10, 2012
Executive Vice President & CEO
National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
No prayer breakfast should be used as a forum for hate speech, and no organization that boasts of defending the U.S. Constitution should give extremists who degrade the faith of soldiers fighting for our country a national platform. Therefore, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF: http://www.MilitaryReligiousFreedom.org) unequivocally demands that the National Rifle Association (NRA) revoke its invitation to the rabidly Islamophobic retired Lt. General William Boykin.
MRFF represents over 27,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, cadets, midshipmen, and armed forces veteran clients. We also represent more than 10% of all Muslim Americans in the armed forces. As a civil rights foundation which operates around the clock, we have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on four separate occasions, spanning three consecutive years (including 2012). From our inception it has been our solemn duty to protect religious minorities within the armed forces from chauvinistic religious fundamentalists such as Boykin.
The NRA’s decision to appoint Boykin as the keynote speaker for their annual convention’s prayer breakfast on April 15th in St. Louis, MO is deeply troubling. Just this past January, MRFF and allies joined forces, applying firm pressure against Boykin’s scheduled appearance at a similar event hosted by the United States Military Academy at West Point. Then, as now, the scandalous invitation to such a notorious bigot touched off widespread public outrage. MRFF pressure eventually compelled the retired General to unceremoniously retreat from West Point.
Boykin has a sad and sordid track-record of inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, attracting broad condemnation by military, faith, and elected leaders across the nation. In 2003, he drew instant criticism (including from then-President George W. Bush) for suggesting that the United States was waging a “spiritual battle” in the Middle East against “a guy called Satan” who “wants to destroy us as a Christian army.”
It strikes MRFF as paradoxical, if not outright hypocritical, that the NRA — an organization ostensibly devoted to protecting the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — would endorse Boykin, who has on numerous occasions shown his outright hostility to the cherished rights to religious freedom assured by the same document. The retired Lt. General represents the lunatic fringe of fascistic, theocratic Christian-militarism (commonly referred to as fundamentalist or Dominionist Christianity), which sadly can be found within the ranks of the U.S. armed forces. Boykin is infamous for past statements proclaiming that while “every Muslim should be allowed to worship freely,” “Islam itself is not just a religion – it is a totalitarian way of life,” which he said “should not be protected under the First Amendment.”
The General’s unabashed hostility towards the Muslim community represents an open insult to that which countless generations of service members have shed precious blood to protect: democracy and religious freedom, as embodied and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. We’re all Americans regardless of how, where, and to whom we pray, if at all. The NRA’s invitation to Boykin is an egregious slander against the thousands of honorable Muslim Americans serving in the U.S. military, and a desecration of the memory of those patriotic soldiers of Muslim faith who have fallen or have suffered injury in their service to this country. MRFF calls on the NRA to immediately revoke its invitation to the vociferously racist and intolerant retired Lt. General William G. Boykin.
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq.
Founder & President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation