General James F. Amos
Commandant of the United States Marine Corps
Headquarters, US Marine Corps (USMC)
3000 Marine Corps Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-3000
Transmitted via email and UPS
SUBJECT: Military Religious Freedom Foundation Demands Revision of USMC Training and Education Command Order 5100.1
Dear General Amos,
Over the past several weeks, numerous United States Marines have come to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF: http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org) to solicit and plead for our direct intervention and assistance in the immediate remediation of a currently completely noxious, unconstitutional USMC policy (TECOM 5100.1).
MRFF is a non-profit, charitable, civil rights organization that is dedicated to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled. MRFF currently represents more than 34,000 clients from all branches of military service, with 24% presently serving in the Marine Corps. Approximately 96% of our armed forces clients are practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics. It is our unconditional position that absolutely no member of the United States Armed Forces may ever be compelled in any way to accept, demonstrate, witness, or engage in any religious philosophy. Further, MRFF believes that the full exercise of religious freedom includes the right NOT to subscribe to any particular religion or religious philosophy. This bedrock prohibition is also quite clearly supported by a veritable legion of formidable U.S. Supreme Court decisions and a literal plethora of associated federal and state case law. Look, General Amos, the so-called “unchurched” in the Marine Corps you command cede ABSOLUTELY no Constitutional rights by want of their separation from any particular organized faith.
Currently, “Lack or loss of spiritual faith” is specifically listed as a “Guidance/moral compass issue” on page 13 of Training and Education Command (TECOM) Order 5100.1. This document has the expressed purpose of establishing Force Preservation policies with the venerable goal of preventing suicide or other harmful behavior by U.S. Marines. However, it totally fails to pass any scintilla of permissible Constitutional muster when asserting by act of policy, which is effectively law, that those marines who simply lack spiritual faith should be considered at higher risk than those with spiritual faith. Regardless of whatever anemic argument you may try to use to justify this wretched inclusion, it nonetheless remains a blatant and toxic violation of Clause 3, Article VI of our United States Constitution which incontrovertibly asserts that no religious test can be applied to any office or public trust of the United States Government. Putting lipstick on a pig, General, does not hide the pig. Even if your claimed goals for this misguided (at best) and despicable (at worst) “religious testing” are claimed by the USMC to be honorable and in good faith, any sufficiently advanced unconstitutional incompetence is completely indistinguishable from unconstitutional malice.
General Amos, you and your vast staff of both civilian lawyers and USMC judge advocates know all too well that MRFF is comprehensively correct here. You will doubtlessly lose and lose badly in federal litigation. Both you and your attorneys KNOW damn well how pathetically indefensible your current “lack of religious faith testing” will be ignobly branded in a proper federal court of law.
We have recently reached out to Mr. Jeffery Bearor, the Executive Director of TECOM, on this precise matter and, all too predictably, he has failed to timely respond in any meaningful form. If you choose to do the same we will accelerate an aggressive legal resolution to this insidious, insulting and wholly unconstitutional USMC regulation. All litigation options will be profoundly pursued, and we will never stop on behalf of our numerous active duty USMC clients until the Marine Corps has aligned its policies with the supreme law of this country.
MRFF has already engaged in frank, productive, face-to-face discussions with senior United States Army leaders at Army Staff Headquarters in Washington D.C. on these precise matters and has reached mutual agreement on same. MRFF demands that the United States Marine Corps likewise swiftly comply with the U.S. Constitution and expeditiously amend its currently abhorrent “religious testing” requirements, practices, and demands.
Please just do the obviously right thing here, General, just as U.S. Army leaders did after seeking critical input from MRFF in direct meetings in our nation’s capitol.
The singular objective for the USMC (and American taxpayers) ought to be to avoid a very public, losing, costly, legal showdown that never should have been necessary in the first place. Please consider our reasonable and rational demand on behalf of MRFF’s many USMC clients. Please do not force us to initiate suit against the Marine Corps.
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq.
Founder and President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
The Honorable Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense,
United States Armed Forces
General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy
Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations