Complaint being filed – Your name is a oxy moron. -Freedom what freedom?

I am hoping the facts are wrong and you can clear them up. Otherwise, I have a serious complaint against your organization and what is being reported by the news media for  May 7,  concerning – Maj. Gen. Craig Olson.
I will find out the details to your claims and if found to be valid you will need to spend a lot of money to support your case.
Seriously- I have to question your judgement as an organization for trying to court martial a man based on his beliefs. There have been countless men speaking their faith in uniform prior to this.
Did you seek a court martial for all of them?  Let me answer that question for you. You did not.
So you cannot hand pick which people you’re going to courtmartial and which ones you will ignore. it;s a all or nothing deal. Therefore you case does not hold any merit.
Please drop the case.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),

Thank you for your May 18, 2015 email to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”).  I hope I can clarify the facts surrounding the demand letter sent by MRFF concerning Major General Craig Olson, as you request, as well as the mission of MRFF.

MRFF is devoted to protecting the religious freedom of all soldiers, sailors, Marines, cadets, and veterans.  It has assisted thousands of service members who have suffered religious discrimination or persecution at the hands of their superiors.  One way MRFF works to protect religious freedom within the military is by ensuring that military leaders respect and adhere to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as well as military regulations.  Accordingly, it does not oppose the expression of religious faith by those serving in the military.

Regarding Maj. Gen. Olson, you do not state the source from which you learned of this particular situation or specify the information provided.  Unfortunately, certain media sources have misrepresented the facts and circumstances surrounding his speech and the basis for MRFF’s demand.  Allow me to share some facts about Maj. Gen. Olson, which you may not know:

Maj. Gen. Olson is the Program Executive Officer for C31 and Networks at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.  He is also the highest-ranking officer there, leading 2,200 subordinate Air Force personnel.  In his speech, he admitted that he has neither the ability nor the training to perform his job:

“He put me in charge of failing programs worth billions of dollars.  I have no ability to do that – NO TRAINING TO DO THAT – God did all of that.

“He sent me to Iraq to negotiate foreign military sales; deals through an Arabic interpreter.  I have no ability to do that – I WAS NOT TRAINED TO DO THAT – God did all of that.

“I also went in as a very self-sufficient person.  I thought if you work hard you’ll do fine and that was working great in high school.  Did not work very well at the Air Force Academy.  That’s where I realized I had a very limited intellectual ability.

“I still carry in this pocket my transcript from the Air Force Academy – as Exhibit A in the court of law – that you’re not a gifted intellect; you have no real academic skills.”

In addition to admitting that he is not qualified for his own job, Maj. Gen. Olson requested that the audience pray for Defense Department leaders and for troops preparing to re-deploy.  While this request might be a perfectly acceptable expression of religion under some circumstances, he specifically stated that Defense Department leaders “need to humbly depend on Christ” and requested prayers for the troops so they can “bear through that by depending on Christ.”  Moreover, he made these statements in his official capacity as a military leader while wearing his uniform, thus giving the impression that his statements clearly endorsing Christianity over other religious beliefs were made on behalf of the Air Force.

It should also be noted that Maj. Gen. Olson was speaking at a National Day of Prayer Task Force event.  The mission of the National Day of Prayer Task Force is to mobilize the Christian Community “to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: government, military, media, business, education, church, and family.”  Therefore, he was speaking in his official capacity for a group whose sole purpose is to inject its own Christian beliefs into all areas of government, in direct violation of the Establishment Clause.

Maj. Gen. not only violated the Establishment Clause, he also violated USAF Instruction 1-1, Sec. 2.12: “Leaders at all levels…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.”  Pursuant to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the violation of a lawful regulation “shall be punished as a court martial may direct” (emphasis added).

You state that “there have been countless men speaking their faith in uniform prior to this,” but MRFF did not seek a court martial for all of them.  However, wearing a military uniform while expressing religious beliefs is only one factor to be considered when determining whether the expression of religious beliefs violate the Establishment Clause.  Instead, an act or policy of a government entity or person acting in the capacity of an agent of the government violates the Establishment Clause if any one of the following is shown: (1) its purpose is not secular; (2) its principal/primary effect either advances or inhibits religion; or (3) it fosters an excessive entanglement with religion.  Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).

When all of the above facts are considered – (1) Maj. Gen. Olson was speaking for an organization dedicated to injecting Christianity into the military, (2) he specifically requested prayers to Christ, (3) he stated that others in the military need to accept Christ, (4) he spoke in his official capacity as a military leader, and (5) he wore his uniform – his actions constitute an endorsement of Christianity over other religions, violating the Establishment Clause and Air Force Regulations.

I hope my above analysis makes it clear that demanding discipline in connection with religious expression is not an “all or nothing deal.”  Absent some of the circumstances in this situation, Maj. Gen. Olson’s speech may not have defied the mandates of the Establishment Clause or Air Force Regulations and MRFF would not have sought a court martial.  However, MRFF’s demand in this case was made pursuant to the mandates of the First Amendment, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and Air Force Regulations.  Therefore, the demand does have merit.

I hope I have adequately addressed your concerns regarding MRFF and its demand concerning Maj. Gen. Olson.  If y have any further questions, I would be happy to address them.

Blessed be,

Tobanna Barker

MRFF Volunteer

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