Your intolerance to religious freedom

To whom ever is in charge ~

     How dare you try and chastise anyone for exercising there freedom to express their religious freedom. Your understanding of the constitution is so far off your pathetic. When a recruiting poster which states that the branch of service is looking for volunteers to serve for GOD and country that’s not a form of government sponsored religion you morons. The vast majority of the veterans that I know that have served this country do so for GOD and country, if you don’t believe that’s your choice and we will put our lives on the line to defend your right to be that way we expect you to do the same with us not attack us because we do. In my opinion your not a real veteran, your just another Al Sharpton type slug trying to make a buck off the backs of those that need a cause to feel important. Get over yourself and leave those that express their faith to do it, you nor your organization are patriots, your nothing but thugs and bullies with nothing better to do…..get a life.

(name withheld)


Hi (name withheld),
You don’t seem to understand the difference between individuals having the right to express their personal religious views and creating the appearance that the U.S. military, as part of the U.S. government, is sponsoring or endorsing a religious view. The law says it can’t do that.

Of course you and a lot of people go into the military with the sense you’re serving God and country, and that’s your right. But it’s also true of the people on the other side of most conflicts. Here in America, those of us who have been in the service have a wide variety of views of God or no god, faith or no faith, religion and no religion. That’s one of the beauties of the country you and I chose to serve.

Bottom line is the poster was made up by a recruiter who changed its wording and chose to stick his personal belief out there as part of his attempt to appeal to potential recruits. As the commander in charge said, if they had come to him and asked for approval to make that change, it would have been denied. On top of that, he ordered them to take it down. So if you have a beef you might want to take it up with the commander.

This is not about the MRFF, which is simply trying to protect the freedom of religious choice for all the women and men in the military. In law it’s referred to as the separation of church and state. It’s not about taking away your right to believe as you do; it’s about honoring the right of every member of every service to enjoy her or his own belief system without having yours or anyone else’s shoved down their throat.

Of course, as in all cases, you’re welcome to your opinion about us, but you’re quite wrong. We are an organization made up of people who believe in the Constitution and think it needs to be protected as well as observed. Many of us are veterans, both grunts and officers, women and men. Many experienced combat and have been decorated for it. Over 90% of the MRFFs supporters are Christian and some of them are clergy. It’s not about making a buck, it’s about preserving a country.

Best,

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

 


Dear (name withheld) –

Thanks for writing to MRFF. Mikey Weinstein, the guy in charge, has read your email and asked me to offer a reply. I’m a lifelong, committed Christian and Air Force veteran, in addition to being a supporter of MRFF. So I think that I can understand the passion and sincerity of your position. Nonetheless, I’d suggest that your perspective of the recruiting poster issue, and the broader Constitutional issues, is not correct.

To begin with, I hope we can agree that neither a recruiting office nor the Army Recruiting Command has any Constitutional rights. However, like every military organization they are expected to meet certain Constitutional obligations, one of which is not to promote or give preference to any particular sectarian belief over other beliefs (including non-belief). The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment does more than just prohibit the government from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion” and from establishing an official religion. It also prohibits government actions that favor one religion over another, or religion over non-religion.

You seem to believe that the guiding principle should be the beliefs of the “vast majority” of veterans that you know. I’d ask you to consider one question — Does the fact that a majority of military members are Christians mean that members who hold other beliefs (or non-belief) are entitled to less protection of their rights? Because I must tell you that my own belief, as a Christian veteran, is that every military member of every manner of belief and non-belief should expect to receive  the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. This is also a guiding principle at MRFF, and it is a commitment that we make on behalf of all military members, including Christians.

Further, acknowledging the unconstitutional nature of a sectarian-themed recruiting poster does not, in any way, undermine the Constitutional rights of any recruit or military member. Individuals can still join the military for any reason or motivation they wish, including religious reasons. Military members can still hold and practice whatever belief (or non-belief) that they wish. When I was in the Air Force, I practiced my faith every day — but I didn’t use my official position or the color of my authority to promote my personal sectarian beliefs.Why? Because it’s not Constitutional for a leader in a military organization to do so.

I understand that your religious rights are important to you — you can believe that mine are equally important to me.  And as veterans, we are certainly justified to share an interest in what happens to the religious rights of our brothers and sisters who serve today. But if we are going to be serious about protecting those rights, we need to be willing to vigorously defend the rights of all military members, including those with whom we may not agree. And that effort includes challenging missteps like the Arizona recruiting poster.

Peace,

Mike Challman
Christian, AF veteran, MRFF supporter


Mr Challman ~

     Your points are well taken but your very wrong! The recruiting posters mentioning on a mission for God and country doesn’t violate any constitutional value at all. It’s a simple recruiting slogan for Christ’s sake! Your making a mountain out of a mole hill is the whole problem with this country today! Folks and organizations like yours make a mockery of the Constitution by being offended and wanting, “heads to roll” for folks just trying to do their jobs and show some spirit de corps! As far as I’m concerned you and your so called organization are no better than the churchy group that protests at military funerals or the NAACP! You hide behind your walls and through stones and don’t give a damn about who get hurt as long as your high and mighty sensibilities aren’t offended. Grow the hell up!
We have troops in the field defending your right to be offended, as well as mine to be able to fire back at you! As they say your either a fix or part of the problem I say you and your group are part of the latter.

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

I, too, am a proud patriot who served honorably. Your opinion that I need to “grow the hell up” and that my “high and mighty sensibilities” have been offended is as wrong-headed as it is insulting.  This has nothing to do with anyone’s personal feelings and it has everything to do with respecting the Constitution.

Sorry that you think I’m “part of the problem” because I wish to defend the religious rights of ALL military members, not just those with whom I agree.  Frankly, I’m mystified as to how you think anyone is hurt when the Army Recruiting Command recognizes a poster as being unconstitutional.  No one is prevented from walking into that recruiting office and joining the Army, for whatever reason or motivation they wish.

You would do well to consider that being denied preferential treatment is a far cry from persecution.

Peace,

Mike Challman
Proud Christian, Proud AF veteran, Proud MRFF supporter


Mike ~

     We could go on and on like this for days, weeks, months, maybe even years! lol So I’ll just try and boil my simple point to this. I understand that you THINK you and MRFF are doing your part to defend the constitution. I get you are a proud vet. What I don’t get is how the use of the word GOD in a recruiting poster is in any way a constitutional violation or in anyway promoting one religion over another. As far as you defending the religious rights of ALL Vets, well Mike, that caused me to just laugh out loud and just shake my head in disbelief! Why, you maybe asking, well think about it, by you supposedly defending the non believer or the folks that worship other than God you strip away the rights of the one your supposedly defending the others from. And as far as you stating the Department of the Army found it to be unconstitutional is a stretch!, the article seemed to infer it was a mere possible minor infraction due to the phrasing not being one of the authorized versions in the Army’s printing guidelines. But what troubles me the most is that toward the end of the article your fearless leader calls for the vigorous and exhaustive investigation and punishment of the perpetrators of this incident. That’s scary Mike, reminds me of instances that aren’t to far from the headlines, ie: ISIS, Pol Pot, Nazi’s…….they all thought they were “protecting the greater good” too!
You have a good day brother, you can give peace a chance but I’ll cover you just in case that doesn’t work out for ya.

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

I agree, this could go on and on.  I understand the point you are trying to make, I just believe that it’s not valid.

First, for you to say that the reference to God is not “in any way promoting one religion over another”, I’d think that the promotion is obvious on its face.  Think of it this way — if the poster said, ‘For Allah and Country”, or “For Vishnu and Country”, you really don’t see how those statements would be a form of ‘promotion’ of one particular sectarian view?  I get that the mention of God seems benign to someone who believes in God, but it is still across the line in terms of appropriateness.

As well, you can laugh all you want at the notion that MRFF defends the rights of all military members, regardless of belief. Fact of the matter is that if the recruiting poster had included one of the other statements that I just mentioned, MRFF would have made the exact same objection to it.

With regard to Mikey Weinstein’s comments about investigation and punishment, I agree that they are strong words.  I also understand that Mikey has been in this fight for much longer than either of us, and if he is disinclined to cut anyone slack, that is certainly his right.  I’d hope that you are not suggesting that he does not have a right to express his opinion?

If you want to be scared by someone’s words, I’d suggest that you read up on the past comments of US military leaders like now-retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin, who believes that the US Army is the right arm of Christ and that we are fighting a holy war against infidels.  To me, it is his sort of rhetoric that reminds me of ISIS… and when it comes from someone who was once in a position of significant command responsibility, it scares the crap out of me (as does the fact that Boykin is not a one-off, there are others who would use their leadership position to advance a sectarian mission).

You have a good day as well, (name withheld).  Don’t worry about covering me, I know that I’m on the right side of God and the right side of the Constitution.

Peace, Mike

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