Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Hey,(name withheld),

I do enjoy the Forum 1033 and read every word. That’s why I was disappointed to see your quote from Karla Dial in the July 2012 edition, under the headline “Defense Department Yanks Bibles…” and your rather snarky remark about freedom.

Friend, there must be separation of church and state. You’d be surprised at the way Christian fundamentalists have tried hard to turn our armed forces into some sort of religious order, pushing “Domain” Christianity and the crusader mentality at a time when we have to fight in the Middle East, eternally riven by religious beliefs. This is not your Army, nor mine. I was a WAC lieutenant 1962-65, and I am shocked at the way today’s commanding officers push their own religious agenda if they can get away with it. There have been “Come To Jesus” rallies at which a roster is checked to make sure everyone in a command is present. There have been billboards erected on government property to proselytize and evangelize. And it doesn’t seem to be working very well, considering all the sexual assaults in the military these days. The Air Force has been particularly bad about rape, at the same time that there’s enormous pressure from top brass to make sure everyone’s a good Christian. Is this hypocrisy or what?

Charles, my husband, retired from the Army as LTC in ’93 and from DOD as a federal employee in 2003. He wore his dogtags as required for many years. On his, the designation for religion was always “No Pref.” And he really did have no preference. I remember being friends with Captain Rosenberg and his wife when we were all assigned to Germany. I worried about this Jewish family’s experience in that country, so I tactlessly came right out and asked, “Are you all right here? Are people good to you? Are you haunted by ghosts as you walk around?” Captain Rosenberg said, without smiling, “We’re fine. Everything’s OK.” How would he feel about a billboard at the post gate advertising a Come To Jesus rally? I think I prefer the way we kept our religion discreet in the sixties and seventies. I sang in the choir at chapel, but I sure didn’t check off names at revival meetings at Fort Sill.

Well, that is why Mikey Weinstein founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. He was alarmed, as I am, at all this PushPushPush from religious fundamentalists. MRFF is a 501(c)(3) organization and no, your taxes are not subsidizing it at all. Mr. Weinstein has many reasons to complain about the blurring of lines between church and state in today’s modern Army. When classes on post have to listen to bigots preaching that all Islam is the work of Satan and must be crushed, an organization like MRFF is inevitable. It’s a normal reaction to a most inadvisable mindset prevalent in today’s military. One cannot complain to the Pentagon while in uniform that one’s commanding officer and all his buddies are Bible thumpers and are requiring a certain amount of thumping from you, too. It takes an outside group to blow the whistle on this conduct. And Mikey Weinstein has done it. I’m all for him. He has suffered a lot of criticism and threats and nastiness, but about 95% of the members of MRFF are Christians. I’m not a member, but I think I should defend MRFF. With those Soldier’s and Airman’s and Marine’s Bibles, the government truly was endorsing a certain publisher’s version of the Bible. There have always been service editions of the Bible, but this was more than just a small, pocket-size prayer book such as my Dad carried in World War II. There was a lot more to this scam than that.

Please inform yourself about the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and please don’t think ill of people who worry when religion is wielded as a weapon against those who are not fundamentalist Christians. Or who are Jewish. Or who are freethinkers. Or who are still trying to decide just what IS the truth. Or who are – yes – atheists, but patriotic, loyal American atheists.

Best wishes,
(name withheld)

Forum 1033
Volume XIV, Issue 7
July 2012 Newsletter of NARFE

page 2 article:
Defense Department Yanks Bibles with Military Service Insignias From Shelves
(Karla Dial in CitizenLink, 4 June ’12)

“Back in 2003, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) granted permission for publishing houses to use the military service insignia on the Soldier’s Bible, Sailor’s Bible, Marine’s Bible and the Airman’s Bible…but revoked it last year after The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) threatened to sue the government, claiming the insignia amounted to an unconstitutional government ‘endorsement’ of religion. As a result, the Department of Defense announced Monday those editions of the Bible would have to be removed worldwide from all exchange stores on military bases.”
(Ed. “Religious Freedom Foundation?” Yeahm, but clearly freedom in only one direction:theirs! Plus, “foundations” usually are tax-exempt and often are even given our tax-payer monies.

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1 Comment

  1. MajBones

    WAC lieutenant 1962-65,
    Thank you. Your letter spells it right out. Thank you for that and for the ptriotic service you and your husband provided to our nation.
    Maj Bones (another veteran)

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