LIFE SITE NEWS – Pentagon refuses to turn over records of communications with controversial anti-Christian activist

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • The government watchdog group Judicial Watch has sued the Pentagon after it failed to respond by the June 18 deadline to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request it filed in May demanding the Department of Defense turn over all records of communication between the Pentagon and controversial anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein.Weinstein, whom Defense News called one of the “100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense,” has been meeting with Pentagon officials in an advisory role since the earliest days of the Obama administration. He is the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). According to Defense News, the organization “Advocat[es] for secularism in the military” and “campaign[s] against public prayer and proselytizing by Air Force officers.”  He has compared practicing Christians to Nazis and terrorist groups, called for a ban on Christian prayer in the military, and said that soldiers who attempt to share the Gospel with others are guilty of “sedition and treason” and “spiritual rape.”
  • The DoD first opened its doors to Weinstein in early 2009, just after President Obama took office.  During the Bush administration, Weinstein had filed a discrimination complaint against the DoD on behalf of a Fort Detrick soldier, an atheist who argued that hearing opening and closing prayers during a mandatory military ceremony was “humiliating and dehumanizing.”  Both the Bush administration and the Obama administration fought the complaint, and it was eventually dismissed.  But General Norton Schwartz, then-Air Force Chief of Staff, accepted a meeting with Weinstein in February 2009 to discuss Weinstein’s concerns about what he called “improper religious influence” in the military, including the appearance of uniformed officers at religious events, displays of crucifixes at military chapels, and the practice of “dipping” the American flag before the altar at the U.S. Naval Academy.At the time, Weinstein told the New York Times, “the thing I found encouraging is that not only did [Gen. Schwartz] take it very seriously, but he also acknowledged that there is a problem, which is always a first step.”From that point on, Weinstein became something of an unofficial advisor to the Pentagon, communicating frequently with Schwartz and consulting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about issues including proper punishment for chaplains found guilty of “proselytizing” (Weinstein recommended court martial), and whether Air Force Academy cadets should be permitted to participate in the “Operation Christmas Child” holiday toy drive (absolutely not, given the group’s evangelical origins, said Weinstein).
  • Uncomfortable with Weinstein’s seemingly cozy relationship with the Pentagon, Congressional Republicans called for an investigation and passed an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill requiring the Pentagon to inform the legislature whenever its employees meet with outside individuals regarding military policy related to religious liberty.Weinstein reacted with glee, reportedly shouting at one reporter from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “How terrified are these little pu***es in Congress that they have to pass an amendment about me?”Of particular concern to observers was Weinstein’s relationship with General Schwartz, with whom Weinstein frequently boasted he had a close relationship.

    “As months passed and turned into years, Norty and I spoke frequently,” Weinstein once said about his relationship with Schwartz.  “Sometimes we spoke numerous times each month, and occasionally we spoke numerous times per week. Indeed, I still have a plethora of voice mails left by him from when I was unable to answer his calls.”

    Meanwhile, after Schwartz’s departure, Weinstein continues to enjoy access to the Pentagon brass.  As recently as April 23, Weinstein met privately with Secretary Hagel and a number of other top officials.  Soon after that, the Pentagon released the final version of Schwartz’s Air Force instructional guide, with the ban on sharing religious faith intact.  In an op-ed for the Air Force Times, Robert Dorr credited Weinstein for the provision, called “Government Neutrality Regarding Religion.”

    “As officials confirmed for me — it was mostly because of Weinstein’s in-your-face activism that [the ban on proselytizing] came into existence,” Dorr wrote.

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