Please read the Constitution

The constitution says freedom of religion. The phrase freedom from religion does not appear in the constitution. You and everyone in this country are free to practice or not practice religion as you see fit, as long as your practices do not interfere with anyone else’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Your recent condemnation of an Air Force general for his speech in support of God is wrong and not in keeping with the constitution. 
Just as you are not protected from hearing, seeing or being exposed to other political beliefs. You are not granted protection from exposure to other religious beliefs. Various churches maybe visible to you on your daily travels, as will advertising, in many forms. Your censorship of religion in the military is as wrong as censorship of political views. This country is a Constitutional Republic, not a mob rule democracy. Since you consider the flag of the republic and the constitution to be the only religious symbols for our military, remember that the constitution does not limit man but government. As it sets forth your God given rights, which are inherently derived from the Creator and not government or man. As such these rights can not be taken away or limited.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
We don’t live in the past. Our laws have been changed and added upon and that’s what we must adhere to.
Mikey is Jewish and 75% of the Board, Advisory Board, volunteers and supporters of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 41,000+ soldier clients (1 can represent up to 50 and 1 represents 100) are Christians. So, we fight for the rights of Christians more than any other religion.
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).
The issue is not that he spoke at the National Day of Prayer Task Force, but that he did it in uniform – against the UCMJ, the Supreme Court law and case law.
Staff (2002-05).
Let me clear up some facts that the media is deliberately withholding from you.
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, including Christians of many denominations, including Protestants and Catholics, as well as SikhsMuslimsHindus, and Jews, reflecting the demographics of the United States. On the National Day of Prayer, many Americans assemble in prayer in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. Luncheons, picnics, and music performances revolving around praying for the nation are also popular observances. Traditionally, the President of the United States issues an official National Day of Prayer proclamation each year as well.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force is strictly a conservative evangelical Christian organization called the “National Prayer Committee” that was formed to coordinate and implement a fixed annual day of prayer for the purpose of organizing 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.
If he had showed up in civilian clothes there wouldn’t have been a problem.
“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.
Then there’s 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 consists of those of other beliefs and by giving his speech on Christianity in uniform – which gives the impression to the world that we have a Christian military – demeans the morale of those of other faiths. His speech is constitutionally unprotected.
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)
The violation of this – by speaking in uniform – is a potential 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.
We didn’t make up these laws; our government and military did. We’re making sure they abide by them.
You have been deceived by the media for omitting these pertinent facts.
Pastor Joan
MRFF Advisory Board Member

 Dear (name withheld),
I am writing in response to your May 17, 2015 email to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”).  It appears that you are confused regarding the mission of MRFF, as well as the right of religious freedom in this country.  I hope I can shed some light for you.


You are correct that the term “freedom from religion” does not appear in the Constitution.  However, neither does the phrase “freedom of religion,” but we apparently agree that right exists.  These terms are commonly used to refer to the Free Exercise Clause (freedom of religion) and the Establishment Clause (freedom from religion).  Your statement regarding the freedom to practice or not practice religion fits within the context of the Free Exercise Clause, while the Establishment Clause prohibits the establishment of any particular religion.  This prohibition has been held to include actions or policies by state actors if (1) the purpose is not secular; (2) the 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).


It is within this framework that I address your claim that MRFF’s “recent condemnation of an Air Force general for his speech in support of God is wrong and not in keeping with the [C]onstitution.”  First, allow me to share some facts concerning Major General Craig Olson’s recent speech that are important to the issue of whether violated the mandates of the Establishment Clause:


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.  This situation does not involve a service member merely expressing his own personal religious beliefs in support of God, which might have little or no impact on those under his command.


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.  Consequently, Maj. Gen. Olson’s speech (1) had no secular purpose; (2) had the primary effect of advancing Christianity, while inhibiting the practice of any other religion; and (3) created an excessive entanglement with religion.


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).


As you can see, MRFF’s demand that Maj. Gen. Olson be discipline was made pursuant to Air Force Regulations, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the mandates of the Establishment Clause.  MRFF does not seek censorship of religion in the military.  To the contrary, it works tirelessly to protect the religious freedom of all soldiers, sailors, Marines, cadets, and veterans.  One of the ways it fights to protect this freedom is to prevent the wrongful endorsement of any particular religion.


Finally, you state that the Constitution sets forth “God given rights, which are inherently derived from the Creator and not government or man.”  This claim is simply not a fact.  The rights and restrictions included in the Constitution were clearly determined those wrote it and those men declined to refer to any “Creator” as their source.  Even if the Founding Fathers may have been guided by their own religious moral standards in determining these rights, they plainly chose to establish a government based on secular principles, rather than religious principles.


I hope I have clarified the mission and work of MRFF.  If you have any further questions or concerns, I would be happy to address them.


Blessed be,


Tobanna Barker

MRFF Volunteer

Share this page:

Commenter Account Access

  • Register for a commenter account
    (Not required to post comments, but will save you time if you're a regular commenter)
  • Log in using your existing account
  • Click here to edit your profile and change your password
  • All comments are subject to our Terms of Use

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *