MRFF Had My Back

Dear Mikey,

I enlisted in the military for the same reason many others do, to serve our great nation. Upon taking my oath I realized I had a greater purpose and it was to defend the freedoms granted in a historic document called The Constitution of the United States of America. One of those freedoms is the Establishment Clause guaranteeing a separation of Church and State.

I showed up to work one day and much to my surprise there was a new display set up by my unit Chaplain containing Christian “self-help” material. Initially I shocked to see my first blatant display of unit endorsed religious material in my 9 years of service. I then decided to pick up a few pamphlets and ensure that what I thought they were they actually were. Inside I found Biblical texts and prayer being claim to solve everything from thoughts of suicide, depression, marriage, and even raising children. I spoke with a few coworkers (of varying beliefs) that I trusted and they too were shocked by the display. Being a supervisor and an example to younger troops I knew I needed to speak up for them and get this removed. The only problem: I was scared to do it openly.

I was scared of reprisal even though they always tell you there won’t be any. I was scared that my complaints could jeopardize my career and affect my family. I was scared I would be ostracized by coworkers and peers. But I knew something had to be done.

My unit has a suggestion box that the Commander and 1st Shirt supposedly checks periodically. I decided that would be my best course of action to keep myself anonymous. Unfortunately there is no way to know if/when they check it. I decided to give it a few weeks to give them fair time. Three weeks passed and still no action. I was at a dead end…or so I thought anyways.

I remembered hearing about the MRFF either on a podcast or (more likely) in the news. I decided to send a short email to the MRFF describing what happened and just seeking advice. Within minutes I received an email from Mikey Weinstein himself asking if I could call. After talking to Mikey for a few minutes I decided that I would give the military a chance to do the right thing. I decided to report the issue to MEO. This was in early May.

After several weeks MEO proved to be of no help and instead told me that the religious material was approved and not offensive…I wasn’t surprised. I knew I had to contact MRFF again and in late June I did just that. Again Mikey was quick with a response and another phone call ensued. Mikey asked for a statement that gave the details while at the same time keeping me anonymous so that he could take my issue to his contacts at the Pentagon. I must stress how adamant Mikey was about keeping everything anonymous and only going as far as I wanted to go. I wrote the statement and took the opportunity to ask if MRFF had any secular material I could put out (or point me to an organization that did), and of course they were more than happy to help.

Mikey emailed me a week later on a Thursday and asked my permission (again everything was at my pace) to release the name of my unit and base which I gave him. I went in to work the following Wednesday and the material was gone.

I cannot stress how vital a resource Mikey and the MRFF has been. The MRFF gave me an outlet and someone to champion my cause. I do not know if my leadership would have reacted negatively toward me coming forth with my complaint, and that’s just the problem…I didn’t know. I know many people feel like they have no place to turn or no one who will stand up for their rights. But the MRFF is a safe, anonymous place you can turn to and they will fight for your religious freedom. Please, if you feel like you have hit a dead end contact Mikey and the MRFF. There is someone who has your back.

(U.S. Armed Forces Member’s name, rank, title, military unit and military base all withheld)

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