DEFENSE NEWS – MRFF Steps Up to Challenge Computer Training Game, “Trojan Horse” for Fundamentalist Christianity

Training Game for Army Chaplains May Trigger Lawsuit

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • A U.S. Army computer game to train military chaplains may bring down judicial rather than divine intervention. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is vowing to stop the project, including possibly filing a lawsuit in federal court.The simulation, tentatively named “Spiritual Triage,” is being created for the Army’s Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, S.C., — but the school doesn’t want it.
  • Spiritual Triage is just beginning development at the Army’s Simulation and Training Technology Center (STTC), which awarded the contract to Orlando-based Engineering and Computer Simulations. Scheduled to be completed by September, Spiritual Triage is intended to expose chaplains and chaplain assistants to stressful situations such as ministering to dying soldiers.
  • Pike acknowledged that deciding which religions will be included in the game could be an issue. There are more than 200 religious organizations endorsed by the Armed Forces Chaplains Board. Chaplains in the Army represent more than 130 different ones, according to the Office of the Chief of Chaplains.
  • The biggest questions for “Spiritual Triage” may be asked by a federal judge.“We are gong to put the pedal to the metal on something like this. If necessary, we will consider intervening in federal court,” said Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and a vociferous critic of what he sees as excessive influence and coercion in the U.S. military by fundamentalist Christians.Weinstein said he is already searching for members of the U.S. military who have legal standing for such a suit. “We have several active duty chaplains who are considering being plaintiffs.”Weinstein fears that a military chaplain training game will be a “Trojan Horse to further the objectives of fundamentalist Christianity,” and wonders which religions will be included.
  • The MRFF claims military chaplains among its membership.“Chaplains we spoke to, both current and former, were frankly thunderstruck by this idiotic idea,” Weinstein said. “Far more time should be spent talking face to face with warm, breathing human beings.”

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U.S. DEFENSE” 2012

#95 – Mikey Weinstein

Founder of Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Defense News is a Gannett publication – as are USA Today, The Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, The Indianapolis Star, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and many other prominent newspapers across the nation. Gannett Government Media consists of Defense News, Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Armed Forces Journal and Federal Times.

A former Air Force officer and White House lawyer during the Reagan administration, Weinstein is today a one-issue whistle-blower who has driven real change in religious policy throughout the military. Advocating for secularism in the military through the Military Religious Freedom Foundation he founded in 2005, Weinstein has fought a campaign against public prayer and proselytizing by Air Force officers, particularly at the Air Force Academy, his alma mater, where he says he and his sons experienced religious discrimination. Weinstein has been accused of tilting at windmills in his struggles, but he scored a major victory in 2011, when the Air Force suspended a training course for nuclear missile launch officers that used Bible passages and religious imagery in a PowerPoint presentation about the ethics of war. Weinstein’s public persistence continues to influence Pentagon religious policies, including new rules released in 2012 restricting the sale of Bibles adorned with military insignia.

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How this list was compiled:

  • This inaugural 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense 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.
  • Individuals’ personal influence — not just the power that comes with their offices — was foremost in our minds. What makes someone influential? One individual on the list explains it this way: “Influence is making change, it’s not just celebrity.”
  • More than 200 candidates were nominated by staffers and vetted through sources. Each person’s clout in shaping American defense policy, strategy and capability was discussed, debated and analyzed.

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