Since 2005, our foundation and its President and Founder, Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of our clients by fostering a national discussion, influencing military policies, and pursuing legal remedies through our court system.
January 2012 – Under Pressure from MRFF and other Civil Rights Allies, Islamophobic Retired Lt. Gen. Boykin Withdraws from National Prayer Breakfast at West Point
MRFF sent a demand letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh on January 27, 2012 condemning the outrageous and scandalous decision to invite the rabidly Islamophobic retired Lieutenant General William Boykin to speak before the National Prayer Breakfast at the United States Military Academy at West Point scheduled for February 8, 2012. On January 30th, Boykin bowed to the pressure and withdrew from his scheduled presentation.
February 2012 – MRFF Breaks Story of Ongoing Usage of Nazi SS Flag and Symbols by U.S. Marines in Afghanistan
U.S. Marine Corps Commandant James Amos issued an official apology, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pledged to launch an investigation just one day after MRFF sent a letter demanding an immediate investigation of this outrage.
May 2012 – MRFF Action Leads to Renaming of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122)
On April 17, 2012 MRFF challenged a Marine fighter squadron decision on changing their names from the “Werewolves” to the “Crusaders.” In a letter written to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Commandant of the Marine Corps General James F. Amos, MRFF threatened legal action to force a change in the squadron name. VMFA-122 has been ordered to reverse the decision, and to return to identifying itself as “Werewolves.”
June 2012 – Space and Missile Systems Center ‘Industry Days’ Rescheduled After MRFF Intervenes
The 2012 Event was scheduled for Sept. 25 through Sept. 27 at exactly the same time that Jewish people observe what is considered the holiest day of their calendar, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. Based on MRFF’s direct intervention, Doug Loverro, Executive Director of the SMSC, directly emailed MRFF to state, “We intend to change the dates for SMC Industry days to de-conflict it with Yom Kippur.”
June 2012 – Official U.S. Military Emblems No Longer Allowed on Holman Military Bibles
Following direct efforts by MRFF, all four branches of the U.S. Military have now revoked their approval of the Military series of Holman Christian Standard Bibles (HCSB). Over the past few years, MRFF received nearly 2,000 complaints about these Bibles, which were displayed and sold in base exchanges and other stores on military bases. The Military HCSB Bibles contained material merging Evangelical symbolism and theology with national and military iconography and anthems, as well as a lengthy section of essays and other information promoting the Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF), an organization devoted to raising “a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.”
August 2012 – New Air Force Instruction AFI 1-1 Issued, Further Strengthening Religious Neutrality in U.S. Air Force
MRFF pressure directly culminated in the issuance of Air Force Instruction 1-1 Standards of Conduct. This document requires total mandatory compliance on penalty of potential adverse criminal action, including courts martial, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice – the first time religious neutrality regulations have had such enforceability. AFI 1-1 requires non-chaplain officers and supervisors to “avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”
October 2012 – MRFF Client Exposes U.S. Army suicide prevention sessions that led to forced “mass Christian prayer”
During an Army-wide stand down for suicide prevention sessions, a Christian chaplain in Texas improperly led rookie soldiers in a candlelight prayer, an Army instructor said in a formal complaint. Staff Sgt. Victoria Gettman, a lab technician instructor at Fort Sam Houston, informed MRFF that she was among 800 soldiers from the 264th Medical Battalion undergoing resilience training on Sept. 26, almost all of whom were fresh out of boot camp and in training for their first job in the Army.
In October 2012, MRFF was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, its fifth nomination since MRFF was founded. This marks the fourth consecutive year that MRFF has received a nomination for its accomplishments in fighting religious bigotry, preventing inter-religious strife, defending servicemembers’ civil rights, and contributing to the cause of maintaining global peace. MRFF was nominated by one of the founding members of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization.
November 2012 – Cancellation of fundamentalist fraudster and phony “Doctor” Ray Giunta as Guest Speaker of Pentagon Prayer Breakfast
MRFF, based on the complaints of 211 armed forces clients (189 of whom are practicing Protestants or Roman Catholics) at the Pentagon, demanded on November 26, 2012 that Senior Department of Defense (DoD) leadership immediately and officially revoke the invitation to Mr. Ray Giunta to be the ‘Guest Speaker’ at the ‘Pentagon Prayer Breakfast’ scheduled for November 28, 2012. MRFF also demanded that an aggressive DoD investigation be swiftly launched to determine the particulars of why, how, when and who was responsible, via acts of commission and omission, for inviting this disgusting, despicable charlatan and fraud to speak at this Pentagon event in the first place. MRFF quickly organized a petition to the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office in support of its demands. On the morning of November 27, 2012, the Office of the Chaplain at the Pentagon sent a revised invitation to the prayer breakfast saying that Giunta was no longer going to speak. MRFF continues to demand an investigation into the actions surrounding this event.
December 2012 – West Point Cadet, MRFF Client sacrifices career in noble stance defending U.S. Constitution from religious zealots
Blake Page, a West Point cadet slated to graduate this year, resigned in protest of the pattern of invasive and harassing religious proselytizing taking place at the esteemed military academy.
Sacrificing his degree and commission, Page risked receiving a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition, but was honorably discharged with waived fees as a result of the firestorm of media attention attracted to West Point’s crisis of proselytization. Page, a former Army enlisted man, was a leader in cadet efforts to end illegal Christian proselytizing at the academy and favoritism shown by faculty and administrators toward Christians. Page is Director of MRFF Affairs at West Point as well as the president of the West Point Secular Student Alliance.
Page, testifying in a blog posted on Huffington Post, wrote:
While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution…
… The existence of decades of legal precedent and policies prohibiting this pervasive religious bigotry has not stopped it from happening in the past, and will most certainly not stop it from happening in the future so long as the many who oppose it remain too timid to stand up and be counted. I am making this stand in the hope that others will follow by whatever means they must. Perhaps now some of the 136 cadets, faculty and staff at West Point that are represented by the MRFF may find the courage to make themselves heard.
Mikey Weinstein Named to List of 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense: MRFF President and Founder, Mikey Weinstein is named to the inaugural 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense on December 17, 2012. This list was compiled over five months by more than two dozen reporters and editors representing the world’s biggest military newsroom and the award-winning staffs of Gannett Government Media’s sector-leading publications: Defense News, Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Armed Forces Journal and Federal Times. Inclusion in this list is based on an individuals’ personal influence, not just the power that comes with their office. One individual on the list explains the concept of personal influence as “…making change, it’s not just celebrity.”