Active Retired military

Just a note to say that if it wasn’t for the religious freedom to worship openly that I had while serving in the armed forces I might not have gotten through some pretty tough situations. I got my faith back while serving so to give back, my friends and family will support any legal action against your organization to free our military from your form of oppression. That’s our right as Americans. I was proud to serve and I will with pride and honor defend our constitutional right to worship. Please remember there are far more of us that believe in defending our religious freedoms than those few of you who wish to destroy them along with the rest of our country. Our money will go to legal firms poised to defeat you. And Amen to that.

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld) –

Mikey Weinstein shared your email with me, and while he did not specifically ask that I write to you (which is one of the ways that I serve at MRFF — email correspondence), I would still like to take the opportunity to respond because I, too, am both a veteran (USAF) and a life-long, active Christian.

I write to you in the hope that I can correct an obvious misconception you have about the goals and purpose of MRFF. As a Christian myself, I can assure you that I would not be involved in the organization if it was, as you suggest, focused on the ‘oppression’ of religious belief and practice in the military. Simply put, that is entirely inaccurate. Rather, the focus of MRFF is exactly what you describe as your own focus – to ‘defend our constitutional right to worship’… and in the case of MRFF, we defend are the rights of ALL military members – Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Free Thinkers, Atheists, and every other possible belief and tradition.

I’m reasonably sure that you were inspired to write as a result of recent reporting about the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard. The unfortunate and frustrating thing for me about that reporting is that it is inaccurate, incomplete, and and a result, entirely misleading. For starters, to categorize MRFF as an atheist organization that is trying to interfere with the religious rights of military members is, to be blunt, a lie… and many of the sources that are perpetuating the story know that it’s a lie. But the lie serves to support their narrative of a ‘War on Christianity’ so they tell it anyway.

The story SHOULD have been about a military commander who used his position and the color of his authority to promote a personal religious belief to his subordinates. This is wrong, and not because MRFF says so — it’s wrong because the US Constitution says so and the specific rules that guide commanders on this topic say so. The issue is NOT whether the commander is entitled to his belief – he certainly is, and MRFF will defend his right to those beliefs. But his subordinates are also entitled to choose their own beliefs without influence or pressure from their leaders, and leaders are required to avoid “the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates” (AFI 1-1).

I’m glad that your faith has sustained you — mine has done the same for me, including through difficult deployments and challenging times when I was in the Air Force. So I understand and appreciate the sentiment shared by Col Marquinez. But I also recognize that the time, place and manner in which a military leader expresses such a sentiment can be erroneous, and that was the case here.

Thanks for taking the time to write, and thank you for your service.

Peace,

Mike Challman
Christian, AF Veteran, MRFF Supporter

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