Appreciate Your Service Mr. Weinstein

Dear Mr. Weinstein,
I appreciate your service to our country and understand a wall of separation you seek between government and religion.  This is especially a need as so many religions and even atheism is growing within our borders.  Yet, I disagree with the hands-off approach you take as the recently sought punishment of a decorated General and servant to the American people.  To tell a man he cannot mention God is over the line.  One thing that has made our nation great (by the way, I am a veteran of Desert Storm through the USAF) is the ability to speak from our conscience.  I do not have to agree with you and you do not have to agree with me about every issue in life.  Life would be boring if we were all “yes” people, but we should be able to give a speech, debate or even rhetoric without being ostracized even while wearing a uniform.   The General did not ask people to join his religious group.  He merely spoke his conscience.  If you were to give a speech, I would most likely disagree with you about a lot of things, but I would not demand you be reprimanded for your words unless you spoke treasonous words about our nation. 
     Therefore Sir, I ask you reconsider what our nation needs.  Is it freedom from religion from all areas of government life or is it simply the ability for every American to speak their conscience without the fear of castigation?  Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),
Mikey is busy helping our soldiers and asked me to respond to you.
 
Mikey is the Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). There is also the Board, Advisory Board, volunteers and supporters of which 75% are Christians. A full 96% of our 41,600+ soldier clients are Christians – Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodist, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, etc. We fight for the rights of these Christians more than any other religion but it never makes the news.
 
We also rely on our military supporters for their expertise in all matters concerning the military and religion. To name just a few that you may heard of:
Board Member – Major William E. Barker
Board Member – Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV
Advisory Board Member – Lawrence Wilkerson – Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05).
 
I don’t know where you get your information from but we are not trying to get rid of “freedom from religion from all areas of government life…” Our Supreme Court rulings and the Uniform Code of Military Justice explains what one can and cannot do in the military where religion is concerned.
 
“. . . no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”   (Article VI, Section III)
 
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment (Establishment Clause) of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise (Free Exercise Clause) thereof . . . “(1st Amendment)
 
The Establishment Clause comes before the Free Exercise Clause for a reason; the Free Exercise Clause is subservient to the Establishment Clause – not the other way around as some Christians would like it to be. 
 
“Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320. 
This is his second known use of the term “wall of separation,” here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter. 
This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause.
Jefferson’s concept of “separation of church and state” first became a part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878). In that case, the court examined the history of religious liberty in the US, determining that while the constitution guarantees religious freedom, “The word ‘religion’ is not defined in the Constitution. We must go elsewhere, therefore, to ascertain its meaning and nowhere more appropriately, we think, than to the history of the times in the midst of which the provision was adopted.” The court found that the leaders in advocating and formulating the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty were James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Quoting the “separation” paragraph from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, the court concluded that, “coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured.
 
The Supreme Court heard the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the Establishment Clause.
 
Subsequent to this decision, the Supreme Court has applied a three-pronged test to determine whether government action comports with the Establishment Clause, known as the “Lemon Test.”
1.      Any law or policy must have been adopted with a neutral or non-religious purpose.
2.      The principle or primary effect of any law or policy must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion.
3.      The statute or policy must not result in an “excessive entanglement” of government with religion.
 
If any government entity’s actions fit into one of these three, then it is a violation of the Establishment Clause
 
Parker v. Levy: 
 
“This Court has long recognized that the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society… While the members of the military are not excluded from the protection granted by the First Amendment, the different character of the military community and of the military mission requires a different application of those protections. … The fundamental necessity for obedience, and the consequent necessity for imposition of discipline, may render permissible within the military that which would be constitutionally impermissible outside it… Speech [to include religious speech] that is protected in the civil population may nonetheless undermine the effectiveness of response to command.  If it does, it is constitutionally unprotected.” (Emphasis added) Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 1974
 
The National Day of Prayer Task Force is not the National Day of Prayer signed into law by President Truman in 1952.
The National Day of Prayer is celebrated by Americans of many religions as a day of prayer and meditation. The President of the United States issues an official National Day of Prayer proclamation each year according to law, as well.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force (formed in 1983) is strictly a Conservative Evangelical Fundamental Dominionist Christian organization called the “National Prayer Committee” that was formed to coordinate and implement a fixed annual day of prayer (by hijacking the original National Day of Prayer to give it cover and live streaming it on GOD TV all over the world) for the purpose of organizing ONLY Evangelical Christian prayer events with local, state, and federal government entities. 
The National Day of Prayer is sanctioned by the government where the National Day of Prayer Task Force is not.
Parker v. Levy: 
 
“This Court has long recognized that the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society… While the members of the military are not excluded from the protection granted by the First Amendment, the different character of the military community and of the military mission requires a different application of those protections. … The fundamental necessity for obedience, and the consequent necessity for imposition of discipline, may render permissible within the military that which would be constitutionally impermissible outside it… Speech [to include religious speech] that is protected in the civil population may nonetheless undermine the effectiveness of response to command.  If it does, it is constitutionally unprotected.” (Emphasis added) Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 1974
 
Our military is secular and accepts those of all beliefs and those with no beliefs and his speech is “constitutionally unprotected.”
 
The Air Force has strict rules on religious neutrality:
 
Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12:
 
2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause.
Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional
prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing
or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief. (emphasis added)
 
His speech at a private event – in uniform – is a felony under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
 
Civilian laws and military rules and regulations are different.
 
Because Major General Craig S. Olson showed up in uniform to give his speech, he is also providing an unlawful endorsement and selective benefit to a non-Federal entity
(the NDPTF, which is a private organization), in violation of both the Joint Ethics Regulation(DoD 5500.7-R) prohibition on endorsement of non-Federal entities and DoD Instruction 5410.19, which prohibits the providing of a selective benefit or preferential treatment to any private organization. 
 
For your reading enjoyment:
 
He showed up in uniform at a private event (one had to give his written testimony to be even considered to help out in any way), gave his testimony and then asked for prayers that the soldiers (all of them – not just the Christian ones) would rely on Christ.
 
He broke military laws – not our belief or hatred towards Christianity (which we don’t have) – and should have been held accountable.
 
We support and encourage the freedom for any soldier to express their belief as long as it is done in the proper time, place and manner as accepted by military law and the Supreme Court rulings.
 
Major General Olson failed on all accounts and the Air Force didn’t even enforce its own rules and regulations. He should not have been given a free pass because of his religion or rank.
 
The law is the law.
 
If he showed up in civilian clothes there wouldn’t have been a problem.
 
Pastor Joan
MRFF Advisory Board Member

 

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1 Comment

  1. Sterling Voth

    We also appreciate very strongly what you and your organization is doing to keep Evangelicals or others from corrupting the freedom of our Military personel. We would feel the same way had the General been promoting any other religion, or insisting that all our Military personnel “not” exercise any religion at all. If there is one single place that should be totally free of any religious influence, it is the very Military that has the power to take control over all of us and control our society in the same manner it is trained to do against enemies in times of war. That is why the founders were so clear on this as the danger it represents to society at large. We see this all the time in other “freedom lacking” countries where the Military seizes control, overthrows the elected govt. etc.. The restrictions placed on the Military are there for a very good reason and Jefferson and others understood well why it was so important that regardless of your personal beliefs of a God, or lack thereof, you not be allowed to use those beliefs in a position of power to be able to intimidate others into following your beliefs. Besides if there ever were or are, any of the thousands of Gods in human history, it is reasonable to assume that they have the power to enforce their own will or judgement without any intervention from our Military. For most of this countries history we had religious freedom, and other religions existed mostly untouched. Now though it seems that Evangelicals in particular, for some odd reason want force everyone else to conform to their own version of beliefs. This is very wrong, and go back to previous comment that if their God is real, and I’m sure they believe he is, he can truly defend himself without assistance. Military is certainly one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs we have in our society, and not a single citizen need be concerned about anything other than executing the job he or she signed on to do in defense of the same country that has given them the ability to practice a religion of their choosing, or not! It’s simple that religious intolerance was the reason Jefferson and others were worried over the ability of any single group to use a position of power to push their own personal agenda. Once again thanks so much for what your organization is doing for ensuring the idea of “real” freedom everywhere, and know it is appreciated far more than the “hate mail” you receive. As even president Eisenhower went out of his way to make it very clear to the Muslim community, due to particular circumstances in the 1950’s that we are truly a country of freedom and that Mosques, as well as Temples, and other places of worship and faiths were “all” welcome here and we truly meant “religious freedom”. And we can be proud of our military who include persons from all walks of life and faiths who “volunteer” to join and take on that very dangerous job, given the circumstances that not everybody can do given the wide expanse of our globe. Please excuse any typos or spellings missed in re-reading. 🙂

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