FEATURED INBOX POST – Religious Freedom guaranteed by The Constitution (with MRFF responses)

Bekki,

Please let your boss, Michael Weinstein, know, if you try to steal someone’s religious liberty, you will pay a price. You will stand before your Creator one day and believe me, you won’t be speaking out, you’ll be listening and bowing down. And you’ll answer for all your deeds against the faith. Think about it.

(name withheld)


Hi (name withheld),

It’s a pleasure to get an email like this that actually offers what looks like a legitimate return address. At least that amount of integrity, which is so lacking in most of the ugly, anti-Semitic, obscene and raving attacks that come our way, offers the opportunity for a response, and with it, the possibility of some mutual understanding.

Let me say, first of all, that Mr. Weinstein is the founder of the MRFF, but not my “boss.” He’s my friend. I’m on his Board of Advisors. Because of that, he sometimes passes along emails. Some of them are for my education, so that I can see the degree of ugliness he and his staff are subjected to regularly, and some of them are for inspiration because they are messages of appreciation from people who have been subjected to an astonishing level of degradation because of not being comfortable with the level of religious pressure to which they were subjected, pressure to accept and agree with a religious view that was not their own. With those, there were horrifying stories of the punishments, hazing, attacks, career-influencing negative reports, lost opportunities and lost promotions, in some cases demotions meted out to servicemen and women whose belief system did not comport with the view of those senior to them in rank.

So let me only suggest that you may have been given information that is incorrect. Neither Mr. Weinstein nor anyone else associated with the MRFF is trying “to steal someone’s religious liberty.” If someone told you that was so, that person was giving you false information, whether he or she knew it or not. If you’ve somehow come to that conclusion yourself, you are seriously mistaken and I’d like to know what brought you to such a conclusion.

The truth is that the MRFF is dedicated only to seeing that the right of free thought and free religious belief is protected in the military, as required by laws specifying a separation between church and state. Neither he nor the MRFF has anything against anyone having a commitment to a religious belief system, nor, for that matter, do they have a problem with anyone having no religious belief. That’s the law and it is the American way. So those who have told you he or we are against a particular religious view are incorrect.

As to the rest of your admonition to Mr. Weinstein, it suggests a belief system that holds very serious consequences for those who are thought to have contradicted it. If you’re comfortable with that, I’ll leave you to the question of pondering how it comports with the premise of whatever your faith may be, with only one afterthought. Your last mention of Mr. Weinstein having to answer, in your words, “for all (his) deeds against the faith,” suggests that your belief system, whatever it happens to be, is “THE FAITH” (caps my own). That implies, though I’m not sure is intended, not only a belief in a certain faith system, but that it is the ONLY CORRECT faith system. (again, caps my own) If I may take you literally in sensing that it is your belief that whatever and however you believe is the only correct way one is allowed to believe and anyone who does not share your belief system is going to “stand before YOUR Creator… and answer for (his or her) deeds against the faith,” I can only offer my sympathy.

My best to you.

Mike Farrell


Sir or Mam,

The MRFF and Mikey shared this email with me, I wanted to say I have only answered one other person directly as I am contacting you now.

I am a Jewish soldier in the Army, furthermore I am also an Officer. I have suffered humiliation and degredation at the hands of my fellow soldiers, some that outranked me and some that did not all because I was not Christian, not only not Christian but the wrong type of any religion. I was told not to call myself a Jew, that I could not have Kosher MRE’s and as a final insult I could not have the medals that I had earned or the recognition that I had worked so hard for.

I watched other soldiers receive the awards that should have been mine, one officer was awarded Officer of the Year for the work that I had done on projects. I am very upset to hear your email that the Religious Freedom you say is protected in the Constitution was not afforded to me. Yet I stand up for that very same piece of paper you so easily point at.

Why is that? Why is it ok for the people that did this to me should be allowed to do this in the name of YOUR CREATOR, and face no consequence from anyone. These people of FAITH, went so far as to tell me that no one could touch them for what they were doing to me, Equal Opportunity or The Adjutant General of my State. Finally in the end I was receiving threatening phone calls on my life and safety. All because I wanted to be treated fairly.

If I were you I would stop pointing fingers and realize that if not for the efforts of people like Mikey and the MRFF, many like myself would no longer want to protect you, the Constitution, or this country if all we were to receive was torture, punishment and hate.

Thank you for your time.


Dear (name withheld),

I’m neither Bekki nor Mikey, but I have been asked to respond to your email on behalf of MRFF.

Please remember your words when you stand before the creator, because what you predict might just be what you will face.

Mikey isn’t available for comment, because he is working his you-know-what off, trying to protect the religious rights of every individual in the military, despite claims of (imaginary) rights of Dominionists who insist on shoving their arm-twising version of militant (not military) Christianity down others’ throats — or else! Just as you did.

Perhaps you should google “Dominionist”, to better understand.

It’s especially that “or else!” that matters. Military members legally cannot and must never use their religion to coerce, much less threaten, those who work under them (or, for that matter, over them or around them) within their chains of command, nor may they pretend to represent all of the United States of America, standing in uniform, on duty, when they proclaim their religion. Religion is a personal thing, by law, and by law, it cannot be forced onto others. That is what made and makes America so great. Each to his or her own.

Signed,
A staunch MRFF supporter and military veteran


Good Day, (name withheld),

Mikey Weinstein shared your email with me, and I want to take an opportunity to respond to you directly. It’s important to me that I do this whenever fellow Christians write to MRFF, because I find there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the mission of MRFF and even about what it means to say “religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.”

As I said, I am a Christian. In fact, I even have a brother who is a pastor and a mother who is a real-life ‘church lady’. I have been active in my Church my whole life, and my wife and I have raised our three children to be people of faith, as well. So I can relate very well to your concerns about the threat that someone might try to “steal someone’s religious liberty.” I feel confident in saying that I’m at least as ardent as you in my passion to see religious freedom protected in America.

So I think it’s important to state emphatically that Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF are in no way trying to steal or impinge upon anyone’s religious freedom. If that were the case, I can assure you that I would not support the organization’s efforts. But I know Mikey and others within the organization, and I have found them all to be people of great honor and integrity. Even more interesting might be the fact that many people of faith support MRFF, and that many of the clients who come to MRFF for help are also religious people. The goal of MRFF is not to take anything away from anyone — rather, it is to protect something that is dear and important for everyone.

There seems to be a long-standing tradition in America that most things are a win-lose proposition or a zero-sum game. In other words, if someone else gets what they want then I will somehow lose — or if I get what I want that it has to come at the expense of someone else. While this sort of philosophy makes sense for our sports teams and our business efforts, it is not the case with regard to religious freedom. It is possible for people like you and me, staunch and faithful believers, to have our freedoms and rights fully protected AND for people who don’t believe precisely as we do to also have their freedoms and rights fully protected. There is ample enough room for both groups to ‘win’… but we must disavow ourselves of the notion that protecting someone else’s rights is a bad thing for us — and we especially need to be willing to accept that people whose beliefs differ from our own (including those with no religious beliefs) are entitled to the same protection that we seek.

Where the work of MRFF is most important, and most needed, is to ensure that the rights of all military members are equally protected. In addition to being a Christian, I am also an Air Force veteran (and like Mikey, a graduate of the USAF Academy although I am much younger and have more hair). As a veteran, I am especially aware of the potential for abuse in the highly structured, superior-subordinate environment that is the US military. Our military is not a Christian force, despite the desires and efforts of many Dominionist Christians. As diverse as American society is, so is the American military. Every military member, regardless of their beliefs or non-beliefs, has sworn a solemn oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States…” The Constitution is very clear with regard to religious beliefs, including yours and mine — there can be no effort to establish or favor one set of religious beliefs over another.

What does that mean? It means that Evangelical Christians have a right to believe as they do — and so do Lutherans and Catholics and Universalists and Buddhists and Muslims and Wiccans and atheists and every manner of believer and non-believer. Does that mean we have to agree that anyone else’s belief system is “right”? Nope. Does it mean that we have to admit that anyone else’s belief system is “true”? Nope.

Does it mean that we have to allow everyone to believe whatever they believe is right and true? Absolutely. Democracy is an amazing, wonderful thing — but it can also be messy and noisy. When the noisy mess is caused by all of us being willing to protect the rights of others with the same fervor as we protect our own, then that is an amazing and wonderful thing, too.

I’m very glad that you took the time to write to MRFF. I’m sending this email from my own email account and I am signing my name. If you would like to have any more dialogue about this topic or any other, I’d be happy to do so.

Peace to you and your family.

Mike Challman
MRFF Supporter
Devout Christian
Air Force Veteran
USAFA Graduate (Class of ’85)

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1 Comment

  1. John Moore

    Dear Sir,

    I am the person who called you on 03/11/14 in reference to the misuse, disrespect that your organization is showing to the flag of the United States. I am also the person you rudely told to “send me an email and I will forward it to my lawyers”. Here is the email for you and your lawyers.

    On your website, you have the following two inappropriate, and illegal uses of the United States flag:

    1. At the top of the web page you have a pentagon shaped logo which depicts the United States flag.

    2. On the right side of the page the United States flag is covered over with the words “PLEASE DONATE; DONATIONS ARE FULLY TAX-DEDUCTIBLE; CLICK HERE”.

    You told me on the telephone that you are not inappropriately using the flag of the United States on your website. If the flag of the United States is covered by words asking for people to give you money, what would you call that sir? Looks like advertising to me, and the use of the flag for advertising is illegal.

    Your website states under the “ABOUT MRFF” statement the following: “Fighting for our servicemembers’ rights, so they can fight for ours.”

    If this is actually the truth, please answer the following questions for me:

    1. Is the inappropriate use of the flag of the United States for your advertising the way you are fighting for the rights of service members?

    2. Is violating United States Code the way your business operates?

    2. Do you think it is appropriate to desecrate the very flag that many service members died fighting for to make some money for you and your organization?

    Sir, I am an Honorably discharged member of the Armed Forces of the United States who served in the United States Army. I proudly served my Country and would give my life for my Country and my flag. I don’t appreciate you and your organization disrespecting my flag to try and make a few bucks. I am requesting that you appropriately respect the flag of the United States and immediately remove it from all advertising on your site.

    Thank you for your time.

    John Moore

    Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin

    The following is Title 4 of the United States Code, Section 8. (Please pay special attention to sub-section (i)).

    ————————————————————————————————————-
    No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

    (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

    (b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

    (c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

    (d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

    (e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

    (f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

    (g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

    (h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

    (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

    (j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

    (k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

    ————————————————————————————————————-

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